From parades to barbecues to fireworks on the beach, greater Los Angeles has long joined the rest of the nation in celebrating Independence Day. As Southern Californians now prepare to mark the nation's 235th birthday, join us for a look through historical images at Fourth of July celebrations of the past and learn about some of the photographic archives that richly document our region's history.
Los Angeles Public Library
The Los Angeles Public Library's History Department has maintained a collection of historical images for more than sixty years. Today, the library's extensive Photograph Collection numbers in the millions. The largest part, with more than 2.2 million images, is the photographic morgue of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and two of its predecessor newspapers: the Evening Herald and the Herald Express. The library also holds a collection of more than 250,000 historical photographs donated in 1981 by the Security Pacific National Bank, as well as a Shades of L.A. archive that showcases the diversity of the family life throughout L.A. history.
Santa Monica Public Library
With photographs dating from 1875, the Santa Monica Public Library's archival collections richly document the visual history of the Santa Monica Bay area. Many images, including a set of historical maps and digitized editions of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook newspaper, are publicly accessible through the library's Imagine Santa Monica website.
Orange County Archives
As the official archive of L.A. County's neighbor to the south, the Orange County Archives preserve a wealth of historical materials, from deeds to government records to early local newspapers. The Archives have also made hundreds of historical photographs publicly accessible through Flickr.
UCLA Young Research Library
The Department of Special Collections at UCLA's Young Research Library houses the photographic morgue of L.A.'s largest daily newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, from which the following three images were drawn. Many images from this invaluable collection and others are accessible online through the UCLA Digital Collections website.
The USC Libraries' extensive regional history holdings include several important photographic archives, including the California Historical Society Collection and the "Dick" Whittington Photography Collection. The USC Libraries also house the photographic morgue of the Los Angeles Examiner, a daily newspaper that merged with the Herald-Express in 1962. Many of the photographs from these collections, as well as images contributed by partner institutions, are publicly accessible through the USC Digital Library.
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.