Now that Memorial Day has (unofficially) ushered in the summer season, join us for a look through historical images from several regional archives at how Southern Californians have used the region's extensive beaches over the years. Much has changed—note the evolving fashions in swimwear—but the photographic record attests that Angelenos have long enjoyed playing in the meeting-place between surf and sand.
Braun Research Library - Autry National Center
With its origins in Charles Fletcher Lummis' Southwest Museum, the Braun Research Library—part of the Autry National Center for the American West—preserves tens of thousands of images related to Southern California history.
UCLA – Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive
Preserving decades of photojournalism from L.A.'s preeminent daily newspaper, the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive at UCLA's Young Research Library is an invaluable resource on Southern California history. The collection includes negatives dating back to 1913--many of them digitized and accessible through the UCLA Library's Digital Collections portal.
California State University Dominguez Hills Archives and Special Collections
The CSU Dominguez Hills Archives and Special Collections' South Bay History Collection, from which the following images are drawn, chronicles the early history of the South Bay area, including the beach communities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Torrance.
Center for the Study of Political Graphics
Beaches are not only a place of recreation but can also be the focus of political causes. The following posters come from the Center for the Study of Political Graphics' collection of more than 75,000 posters related to political movements for peace and social justice.
Center for Oral and Public History - California State University Fullerton
Based in Cal State Fullerton's Pollak Library and operating under the aegis of the university's history department, the Center for Oral and Public History holds roughly 3,000 images in addition to its 7,500 hours of recorded oral histories. The following images from the center's collections show early scenes from Orange County's miles of white sand beaches. (Correction, 06/03/11: an earlier version of this post misspelled the name of Pollak Library.)
USC Libraries - Regional History Collection
The USC Libraries' Regional History Collection preserves several extensive photographic archives related to Southern California history—with many of the images publicly accessible through the USC Digital Library.
Metro Transportation Library and Archive
As the official archive of the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Metro Transportation Library maintains a vast collection of photographs, maps, reports, employee newsletters, and other documents related to the region's transportation history. The following photos from the library's Flickr feed highlight the perhaps unexpected interaction between mass transit and the beach, including the Southern California Rapid Transit District's 1974 "Street Fleet" of shore-bound buses.
Many of the archives who contributed the above images are members of L.A. as Subject, an association of more than 230 libraries, museums, official archives, personal collections, and other institutions. Hosted by the USC Libraries, L.A. as Subject is dedicated to preserving and telling the sometimes-hidden stories and histories of the Los Angeles region. Our posts here will provide a view into the archives of individuals and cultural institutions whose collections inform the great narrative—in all its complex facets—of Southern California.