Print this page

Thank you @LAHistory!

Social Science, Philosophy and Religion Department, Central Library,
Part of the booklist cover page

We want to thank @LAHistory for tweeting about a bit of Los Angeles Public Library history: an LAPL booklist produced in the months after the 1965 Watts Riot. After checking Central Library's files we are happy to report that we found an original copy of the booklist in the Social Science, Philosophy & Religion's bibliography files. In addition, two scanned versions of the booklist are available within LAPL's California Index.

The booklist contains suggested reading to gain perspective on the reasons behind the Watts Riot. Nearly all of the books on the booklist are still available to check out. A few titles have been marked as "reference" and are available for in-library use only. Search the library's catalog by title or author to locate the book, as the call number given in the booklist may have changed slightly.

To search for more recent material on the Watts Riot, perform a keyword search in our catalog using the search term watts riot. From the results list, click on a desired title for more information. Click on the "copy locations" link to see the owning libraries and availability. At Central Library, many of the books are shelved in the Social Science, Philosophy & Religion Department.

Central Library’s Rare Books Department owns a four-volume collection simply titled Watts Riots (call number 320.158 W3535), issued by the Office of the Mayor, consisting of statements from civilians and law enforcement. This title can be viewed only by appointment in advance. To make an appointment to view this interesting collection of primary source material, call the Rare Books Department at (213) 228-7350 or contact the department by email.

Another title of interest is Characteristics of the South and East Los Angeles areas, November 1965 (call number 312.73 U53-41 no. 18). This report presents the demographics of designated southern and eastern portions of Los Angeles, based on a special census conducted by the Census Bureau at the recommendation of a federal task force to investigate the Watts riots. An online version is available in Google Books.

To research people, places or events in California history (especially Southern California history) be sure to search our California Index in addition to the library's catalog. To research the Watts Riot in the California Index, type in watts riot in the keyword1 field. For slightly different results, type in watts in keyword1 and riots in keyword2. Some of the citations link to the digitized document. If not, look at the citation for the “Location” field to determine at which library the document is stored. If no specific location is given, contact Central Library’s History Department.

For further research on this topic, visit our Research and Homework page. The African American Experience is a comprehensive database to explore the history and culture of African-Americans. It contains full-text articles from over 400 reference sources, plus scholarly essays, primary source documents and papers, photographs, maps, images, and audio clips. In the search box, type in watts riot. Click on the first result, “Los Angeles Riot of 1965” to read a narrative of the event and the aftermath. Explore the “Related Entries” section to read related articles and excerpts from primary documents, and to see photos and a timeline.

Buildings on fire, Watts Riots

Also, Los Angeles Public Library subscribes to a variety of historical newspaper databases. The Los Angeles Times Historical Archives and the Los Angeles Sentinel Archive provide news coverage of the Watts Riot as it was published at the time. Simply typing in watts riot displays thousands of results -- far too many to sift through. To refine the search, click on "Advanced Search". From here one can limit the search by date by specifying a starting date only (i.e. after August 11, 1965), or specifying a range of dates (i.e. August 12, 1965 to December 31, 1965). There is also an option under "document type" to limit the search to front page articles only. To read historical newspaper coverage from smaller towns and communities, select the Access Newspaper Archives database. Also, Central Library owns a collection of newspapers titles for that time period that are available only on microfilm, such as the Los Angeles Evening and Sunday Herald Examiner.

All of these databases are available over the Internet from our Research and Homework webpage with a valid LAPL card. To log in to the African American Experience, scroll down the alphabetical list of databases and click on the link. To see a list of the newspaper databases, click on “Newspapers” in the subject area at the top of the page, then click on “Find It”. Scroll down the list of newspaper databases and click on the desired link. From the login screen, enter your library card number and four-digit PIN. Also, all of these databases can be accessed by visiting any LAPL location.

Last but not least, the Los Angeles Public Library’s Photo Collection is another great resource for researching events that took place in Los Angeles and Southern California. As before, type in watts riot in the Photo Collection catalog’s search box. In the drop-down menu, select “subject browse” instead of “keyword”. In the results list, click on the first result to view photographs from the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner Collection.

Thanks again @LAHistory for mentioning our booklist and giving us the opportunity to showcase the resources available at Los Angeles Public Library!