Los Angeles and Southern California Regional History

Established in the mid-1970s, the Regional Cultural History Collection was originally conceived as a repository for the papers of outstanding Southern Californians, with a particular emphasis on political figures. To that end, the papers of elected officials were acquired, among them Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Congressmen Alphonzo Bell, Chet Holifield, Craig Hosmer, Gordon McDonough and Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz.

In 1982 USC History Professor Doyce Nunis proposed to California Governor Jerry Brown Jr. that he place his gubernatorial papers with the collection. Then California Secretary of State March Fong Eu protested that the papers belonged in the State Archives but, despite her vigorous actions, Brown’s papers were transferred to USC Libraries Special Collections.

In addition to elected officials’ papers, the now-named Regional History Collection has grown to include a range of materials such as the papers of the Century Freeway project, the Webster and Christopher Commissions, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, early Los Angeles city directories and the Los Angeles Examiner clippings morgue. Visual materials have rounded out the scope of the Center’s collections and now include close to two million images documenting one hundred years of Southern California history, mostly in three notable photographic collections: the Los Angeles Examiner, the California Historical Society, and the “Dick” Whittington collection. Many of these images have appeared in books, documentaries, class presentations and wall decorations; currently many of them are being incorporated into the Digital Library.

For information about accessing the Regional History Collection please contact specol@usc.edu.

plains black and white

C.C. Pierce,  Panorama of Cahuenga Valley looking north from Prospect Hill, showing the property of G.J. Griffith, Hollywood, California, ca.1900, California Historical Society collection, CHS-6567


More information, can be found in the following research guides:

Documenting Los Angeles History