As the L.A. Riots’ 25th Anniversary Approaches, USC Libraries Are Digitizing Records of the Uprising

Posted by Lauren Colonna

As the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles riots approaches, major films and television features from Netflix, ABC, A&E, and others are remembering these historic events. With the uprisings back in the national spotlight, academic researchers as well as the general public may wish to conduct their own research, and USC Libraries offer the resources to do so. Since last fall, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USC Libraries have been digitizing more than 150,000 pages of documents and audio recordings related to the 1991 police beating of Rodney King and the 1992 riots.

The records, most of which were sealed until 2011 and 2012, come from the investigations of two independent commissions into the LAPD’s internal culture and procedures and the reaction of public agencies to the 1992 unrest. They include thousands of interviews, reports from public meetings, and internal files from the LAPD, gathered over 50,000 working hours by attorneys and consultants for the commissions. Though many were never published, they will become publicly accessible online for the first time through the USC Digital Library as the project continues.

Deborah Holmes-Wong and Giao Luong Baker of the USC Digital Library lead the project as principal investigators, and the project team includes Sue Luftschein of the USC Libraries' Special Collections; Wayne Shoaf, Yuriy Shcherbina, and Louise Smith of the USC Digital Library; and Tim Stanton of the USC Libraries' Programs and Planning division.