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Shades of L.A.: A Search for Visual Ethnic History

Thousands of photographs highlighting the stories of ethnic communities in Los Angeles have been documented and restored as part of a decades-long project launched by the Los Angeles Public Library. The collection embodies untold stories of ethnic communities in Los Angeles in what now culminates as "Shades of L.A."

The project was sparked after the need for photographs detailing the everyday stories of ethnic communities in Los Angeles. The job was to discover photos that have already existed in the homes of Angelenos, and to place them in an extensive public collection.

"I was really impressed with the Shades project when it was first launched in the 1990s because they offered alternatives to the stereotypes of ethnic communities, of ethnic people in Los Angeles, by providing real stories," said William Estrada, curator and chair of history at the Natural History Museum.

The archive contains more than 10,000 photographs, copies, and images collected from communities across the greater Los Angeles area, as KCET's Artbound explored in this story. "The idea was to collect and highlight the moments families themselves saw as important milestones," wrote Lynell George.

Featuring Interviews With:

  • Kathy Kobayashi, project historian, Shades of L.A.
  • Marilyn White, contributor, Shades of L.A.
  • William Estrada, Natural History Museum

 

 

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