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LAPL Photo Collection - Year in Review

Christina Rice, Senior Librarian, Photo Collection,
A North Hollywood couple prepares for New Year's Eve. (Valley Times Collection)

As we enter this last week of 2016, let's take a look back at what the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection has been up to during the year. 


Rolland Curtis

Between 3,000 and 5,000 people descend on City Hall in 1969 to protest deteriorating relations between the Los Angeles Police Department and the black community following a raid on the Black Panthers headquarters. (Rolland J. Curtis Collection) 

We started off the year by wrapping up a grant-funded project to organize the Rolland J. Curtis Collection. Curtis had been a field deputy to Council members Billy Mills and Tom Bradley in the 1960s, so this collection of roughly 12,000 images depicting social and civic activities in South Los Angeles certainly fills a gap in our collection. We have been in possession of Curtis' images for a number of years, and while we were fortunate enough to have a dedicated volunteer work with the collection for well over a decade, this grant from the Haynes Foundation enabled us to utilize the services of a professional archivist. I don't think we could have found a more perfect person for the job than Kristine Protacio who embraced the collection and even wrote about the images in her spare time



Thanks to Kristine, we have a beautifully organized collection, almost all of which has now been scanned. We're still a ways off from getting the images described and in our online collection, but thanks to Kristine, we're now able to navigate the collection and make it more easily available to researchers. Kristine also curated our first 2016 exhibit in the History & Genealogy Department, Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s and 70s from the Rolland Curtis Collection and with Photo Friends, put together a companion catalog available through Amazon or the Library Store.


LAPL Staff, and reps from Photo Friends, Pinup Girl Boutique, and Besame Cosmetics salute the Valley Times in style!

Fast forward to the middle of the year, where, at long last, we finished organizing our Valley Times Collection! Together with Photo Friends and the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, we were able to raise over $230,000 to preserve the photographic archive of this former Valley newspaper. For three years. archivist Christine Adolph immersed herself in the mid-Century San Fernando Valley, culminating with the preparation of 52,000 images for digitization and the exhibition Service, Society and Social Change: Post – War Clubs from the Valley Times Newspaper, currently on display in the History & Genealogy Department at Central Library. We kicked off the exhibit and celebrated the end of project with a opening reception, complete with an exhibition catalog and featuring a fashion show sponsored by Pinup Girl Boutique and Besame Cosmetics, with LAPL staff as models.


Photo Friends has been busy as ever. In addition to the two exhibit catalogs, they also published One Golden Moment: The 1984 Olympics Through the Photographic Lens of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. David Davis, journalist and Photo Friends Board Member, curated this collection of images from the 1984 Games, and interviewed all the living Herald Examiner photographers who shot the various events that summer. Photo Friends also sponsored five installments of the long running Photographer's Eye program and already have two photographers lined up for 2017. Bloggers Annie and Eleanor have been penning some fantastic articles over on the Photo Friends website, so be sure to check it out often. Thank you Photo Friends! 


Cohen apartment

Recently digitized image of Mickey Cohen in his swank living room in 1958. (Los Angeles Herald Examiner Collection) 

Our fulltime archivist Wendy Horowitz has been neck deep in Herald Examiner images all year as she waded through 1970s/80s pics from movies, television, and local theatrical productions. The digitization queue continues to grow! 


hill st tunnel

Demolition of the Hill Street Tunnel in 1955. (Mildred Harris Collection) 


Speaking of digitization, this year over 8,000 images were added to the online collection this year. Most were from the Valley Times, but we also finished adding the images Mildred Harris. These Kodochrome slides were all taken by Harris, who was a secretary at the Methodist Headquarters, but in her spare time was a Los Angeles historian and early preservationist who documented many Downtown buildings as they were being demolished from the 1940s through the 1970s. Thanks to the Digitization Department for their part in making these images accessible!

Let's not forget to give an extra tip of the cap to Terri and Fernando who assisted patrons in placing over 450 orders for images this years. Three cheers for volunteers Andrew, Derek, and Helen who have helped us make leaps and strides with the Valley Times and Herald Examiner Collections. 

As we approach 2017, we look forward to adding Valley Times and Rolland Curtis images to the online collection, mounting exhibits celebrating neon and Los Angeles architecture, hosting great programming at Central Library, and continuing to make the Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection a source of information for all aspects of our city's past. 

Happy New Year from the Photo Collection!