“Public Los Angeles.” A book talk about housing, popular politics, and the formation of modern LA. Wednesday, August 19, 2020, at 6pm PDT on Zoom.
Public Los Angeles: A Private City’s Activist Futures is a collection of unpublished work by the late Los Angeles historian and urban scholar Don Parson (see Southern California Quarterly articles below) presenting insights into the collectivism, networks of solidarity, and government policy in early to mid-twentieth century LA. The book also contains essays by twelve friends and mentors that contextualize how Public Los Angeles can help shape our understanding of public housing, judicial activism, gender and housework, and the geography of race and class in modern-day Los Angeles. The publication was supported by a grant from the HSSC/Ahmanson Foundation.
Hosted by Donna Schuele, the HSSC President, the conversation included the book’s co-editors Judy Branfman (UCLA) and Roger Keil (York), Rachael Baker (Detroit Renter City), Mike Davis, Sue Ruddick (University of Toronto), and Marques Vestal (UCLA) to discuss the region’s complex political and cultural history, Parson’s legacy, and visions for the future.
Don Parson Articles
Don Parson published articles in the Southern California Quarterly. Those articles are available as PDFs here.
-George A.V. Dunning Lecture (Thursday, October 18, 2018)
Michael Schumacher, “A Time to Be Born, A Time to Die: Robert F. Kennedy in California”
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Co-sponsored by Institute for the Study of Los Angeles
Occidental College, Morrison Lounge in Johnson Student Center
1968—rife with riots, assassinations, anti–Vietnam War protests, and realpolitik—was one of the most tumultuous years in the twentieth century, culminating in one of the most consequential presidential elections in American history. The Contest tells the story of that contentious election and that remarkable year.
-13th-annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar (Saturday, October 20, 2018)
Doheny Memorial Library
University of Southern California
-Sponsored Session at the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch Annual Meeting (August 2-4, 2018)
“Celebrating and Surveying One Hundred Issues: The Journals of the Historical Society of Southern California”
Chair and Commentator: Merry Ovnick, Editor, Southern California Quarterly
“Early California.” Mary F. Casey, California State University, Northridge
“Native Peoples,” Corey D. Blanchard, University of Southern California
“Race and Ethnicity.” Yessenia Navarrete Hunter, University of Southern California
The AHA-PCB 2018 conference was held at Santa Clara University.
-“Juan Avila, Rancho Niguel, and the Liberation of the Native Sons of the Pueblo of Los Angeles,” Laguna Nigel Historical Society (Thursday, June 28, 2018)
Donna Schuele spoke about “Juan Avila, Rancho Niguel, and the Liberation of the Native Sons of the Pueblo of Los Angeles.” The 1830s marked the secularization of Mission San Juan Capistrano and the distribution of its lands to the second generation of the founding families of Los Angeles. Receiving their own land grants allowed native sons to escape the strictures of patriarchy while at the same time establishing themselves as patriarchs. But these land grants proved to be a double-edged sword: families avoided the sorts of tensions inherent in independence born of rebellion but at the same time lost the collective commitment necessary to the success of the rancho enterprise. This talk tells the story of the Avila family when its eldest son, Juan, left his father’s rancho to strike out on his own as the grantee of Rancho Niguel.
The event was part of the June membership meeting of the Laguna Nigel Historical Society. The organization’s website is: http://www.lagunaniguelhistoricalsociety.org
-Special Event: Last Chance Tour of the Los Angeles Times Building, Downtown Los Angeles (Wednesday, June 13, 2018)
The tour included the Globe Lobby, historic displays, newsrooms, television sets and test kitchen, and was given by Los Angeles Times tour guide Darrell Kunitomi.
-“Major League Baseball Moves West”, Whittier College (Wednesday, April 4, 2018)
It’s been six decades since Major League Baseball arrived in California, opening the door for a wide range of professional sports entertainment up and down the Pacific Coast.
Andy McCue, author of “Mover & Shaker: Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers & Baseball’s Westward Expansion,” and Robert Garratt, author of “Home Team: The Turbulent History of the San Francisco Giants,” discussed the franchise moves, the consequences, and how the teams have become embedded in their communities.
A major area of discussion was the history of the team’s stadiums, with O’Malley’s initial struggle to get Dodger Stadium built followed by years of success and iconic status for the ballpark. In San Francisco, where the city-owned model was followed in the spirit of its times, Candlestick Park became a chilly boondoggle which led to two bouts of brinksmanship to keep the team in the Bay Area. The eventual construction of AT&T Park led to success on and off the field and strong ties to its fans.
Andy McCue is a retired newspaper reporter. “Mover & Shaker” won the Seymour Medal for 2015’s best book of baseball history or biography from the Society for American Baseball Research. Garratt, whose “Home Team” was nominated for the Seymour Medal this past year, is a Professor Emeritus of English and Humanities at the University of Puget Sound.
-George A.V. Dunning Lecture, Pasadena Museum of History (Thursday, March 29, 2018)
“Telling My Stories: The pioneering fiction of Octavia E. Butler”
Natalie Russell, Assistant Curator of Literary Collections, Huntington Library
Octavia E. Butler was the first female African-American writer to make science fiction her career. A shy, only child from Pasadena, California, she dreamed of ordinary people in extraordinary worlds, and extraordinary people in ordinary worlds, and put them on the page. Her stories brought the voice of women of color to a genre traditionally dominated by white men. That powerful voice tackled issues, not just about race, but themes that continue to resonate with a wide audience: power, identity, gender, class, the environment, and what it means to be human.
-Lecture, at the Pasadena Senior Center, hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History (Tuesday, February 20, 2018)
“The Robinsons in Pasadena: A Life Between Segregation and Integration”
Amy Essington, Lecturer, California State University, Fullerton and Cal Poly Pomona
In the Far West, the system of racism was not the formal system found in the South. It was instead a more fluid and uncertain system which people of color had to navigate. Africans Americans in Pasadena lived a reality experienced by many people of color in Southern California in the 1920s and 1930s. Mallie Robinson and her five children, Edgar, Frank, Mack, Willa Mae, and Jackie, lived in a community that straddled segregation and integration. Their experiences show the racism, discrimination, and opportunity for African Americans in Pasadena before World War II.
-Tour of Riverside Historical Sites (Saturday, January 27, 2018)
This tour was co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Southern California and the Riverside Historical Society.
The tour was led by Will Cowan, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Southern California and and David Rios, a librarian at the University of California Riverside–he very much enjoys genealogy and soaking up local history. The tour included stops at the Agua Mansa Pioneer Cemetery, the Trujillo Adobe, and a tour of the Mission Inn.
-HSSC Holiday Party (Saturday, December 2, 2017)
The Historical Society of Southern California hosted a Holiday Party at the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum Saturday, December 2, 2017.
The HSSC will kicked off the season with food, refreshments, and good cheer. ______________________________________________________________________________
Just after midnight on March 12, 1928, the recently completed St. Francis Dam collapsed, sending a 12-billion gallon wall of water through the narrow canyon and ultimately to the Pacific Ocean. The disaster killed at least 450 people and effectively ended the storied career William Mulholland, who designed the dam and presided at opening ceremonies just two years earlier. The tour of the dam site was led by geologist Mark Vincent. Mr. Vincent, a graduate of CSULA and an engineering geologist for GeoLogic Associates, discussed the history and the geology of the area and the engineering and geological issues that led to the dam’s failure.
12th-annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar (Saturday, October 21, 2017)
Saturday, October 21, 2017
Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California
The HSSC displayed artifacts from its collection and material about upcoming events.
(Cal State LA) will explore the rise and fall of Rancho Sausal Redondo.
This free event was sponsored by the History & Genealogy Department of the Los Angeles Public Library and the Historical Society of Southern California.
Lecture, Pasadena Museum of History, At Home Series, Kenneth Marcus on “Musical Metropolis” (Tuesday, October 3, 2017)
HSSC President Kenneth Marcus (University of La Verne) will speak about “Musical Metropolis” at a Pasadena Museum of History (PMH) At Home Series member event.
The Pasadena Museum of History At Home series, which combines presentations by outstanding speakers with visits to architecturally unique homes.
HSSC Tour of Rancho Los Cerritos with a Garden Lunch (Saturday, September 30, 2017)
The tour included the house, the gardens, and unique opportunity to have lunch on the grounds in a private garden.
The house tour of the historic Monterey-style adobe included work areas like the mayordomo’s room and blacksmith shop as well as living spaces like the parlor, library, and master bedroom. The garden tour included the vibrant gardens that grace the property today including trees that date back to the mid-19th century, as well as lush landscaping designed in the early 1930s by notable landscape architect Ralph Cornell.
Dunning Lecture Series, Pasadena Museum of History, Andrea Thabet on “Simon Says: How Norton Simon Transformed a Failing Art Museum into a Cultural Powerhouse” (Tuesday, September 12, 2017)
As part of the George A.V. Dunning Lecture Series, Dr. Andrea Thabet will discuss the construction and dissolution of the Pasadena Art Museum between 1969 and 1975, when business tycoon and art collector Norton Simon rescued the failing museum and transformed it into a West Coast cultural powerhouse. Founded as the Pasadena Art Institute in 1922, by 1954 the Institute had acquired modern art collections of tremendous importance and underwent a reinvention of sorts. Renamed the Pasadena Art Museum (PAM), plans were put in place to construct a new building at the corner of Colorado Boulevard and Orange Grove Avenue. PAM’s re-opening in 1969 was deemed a victory for modern artists carving out their own cultural spaces, yet by 1974, PAM was drowning in construction debts. After exhausting all other possibilities, museum trustees allowed Simon to assume financial and operational management of the museum. Combining his own extensive collection of Old Masters and Impressionist art with PAM’s collections, Simon revamped the museum’s policies, renovated the gallery space, and changed the name to the Norton Simon Museum within two years. Many in the bohemian art world saw Simon’s rescue of PAM as a hostile takeover that signaled the end of L.A.’s vibrant modern art movement. Without a doubt, it dealt a serious blow to the modern art scene for both collectors and artists. However, Simon’s decision to house his internationally renowned art collection on the West Coast in Los Angeles, would ultimately prove to be a cultural boon for the metropolis. The Norton Simon Museum is now widely considered one of Southern California’s cultural jewels, with one of the most “remarkable private art collections ever assembled.”
Sponsored Session at the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch Annual Meeting (Saturday, August 5, 2017)
The HSSC co-sponsored the session “A New Era: Racial and Defense Culture in Mid-Twentieth Century Southern California” at the American Historical Association, Pacific Coast Branch Annual Meeting at California State University, Northridge, August 3-5, 2017.
Chair and Comment: Peggy Renner, Glendale Community College
“Jackie Robinson in Southern California: A Life between Segregation and Integration”
Amy Essington, California State University, Fullerton
“African American Ballet and Protest in Postwar Los Angeles”
Kenneth H. Marcus, University of La Verne
“Making Home Again: Japanese American Resettlement in Post-WWII Los Angeles”
Kristen Hayashi, University of California, Riverside
HSSC Tour of the San Gabriel Mission and La Casa de Lopez de Lowther Adobe
Saturday, June 10, 2017
The HSSC toured both the San Gabriel Mission and the La Casa de Lopez de Lowther Adobe.
The San Gabriel Mission, named for the Archangel Gabriel, was founded in 1771 by Spanish Franciscan missionaries and remains one of the best preserved missions in California. The Mission’s historic church, constructed in 1805, is the oldest functioning Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The San Gabriel Mission continues to serve as a parish church for the City of San Gabriel. Since 1908, the Claretian Missionaries have overseen the care and maintenance of the mission’s historic grounds and museum collection.
Built in the early 1800s, La Casa de Lopez de Lowther was part of the San Gabriel Mission complex, situated near the northwest courtyard area. Juan Lopez moved into the house in 1849, and members of his family occupied the home until 1964. Today, La Casa de Lopez de Lowther is closed to the public and serves in a limited role for parish-related functions.
John Macias, History Instructor at Cerritos College and San Gabriel Mission Board chair, and Kim Walters, mission museum curator, led a tour of the San Gabriel Mission site, which included information about the mission itself, the museum collection, and preservation work. The group also toured the Lopez Adobe, which is only open for private tours.
-Centinela Adobe Tour and Talk
Saturday, June 3, 2017
The event was co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Centinela Valley.
The Centinela Adobe, also known as La Casa de la Centinela, is a Spanish Colonial style adobe house built in 1834. It is one of the 43 surviving adobes within Los Angeles County. The Adobe was the seat of the 2,000 acre Rancho Aguaje de la Centinela, a Mexican Alta California era land grant. The Rancho, granted to Ygnacio Machado, was partitioned from the much larger Rancho Sausal Redondo (22,500 acres), which was granted to Antonio Ygnacio Avila.
After a tour of the adobe, Dr. Donna Schuele (Cal State LA) presented “The Roots of Inglewood: The Avila Family and the Fight for Rancho Sausal Redondo.”
After the tour and talk, the group met for an optional no-host lunch at Pann’s Restaurant.
-HSSC Tour of Historical Society of Long Beach Exhibit “Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor”
Tour of Historical Society of Long Beach Exhibit, “Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor.”
On Saturday, April 1, 2017, attendees visted the Historical Society of Long Beach to view their exhibit “Long Beach Remembers Pearl Harbor.” HSLB Executive Director Julie Bartolotto and historians Craig Hendricks and Timothy Friden gave a tour of the exhibit and spoke about the history related to the exhibit.
About the exhibit: “On December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor shocked the nation and propelled the United States into World War II. Long Beach was a strategic stronghold as a major staging area for the Pacific conflict. The war touched everyone who lived here. Many of the ships in Hawaii on that fateful day spent months in Long Beach before the bombing. Officers and enlisted men on the ships left families and friends in Long Beach. The event not only transformed the war in the Pacific, it transformed the lives of Long Beach residents and the city’s economy and infrastructure. The bombing of Pearl Harbor was the catalyst for airport, harbor, and industrial development, and laid the groundwork for the Long Beach that we know today. Using photos, newspapers, items from its collection and others collected from the community, the exhibition commemorates this important anniversary of the event that forced the United States into the Second World War.”
-Los Angeles Public Library Women’s Heritage Month- “Hiding Under Eastern Petticoats? The Emerging Women’s Suffrage Movement in California”
For women demanding the vote after the Civil War, California was a hot-bed of activity, especially with the rival National and American Woman Suffrage Associations battling for alliances in the Golden State.
Donna Schuele (UCLA, Cal State LA) explored California’s suffrage movement in the 1870s and the ways in which the California movement was driven—and riven—by circumstances both local and national.
This free event was sponsored by the History & Genealogy Department of the Los Angeles Public Library and the Historical Society of Southern California.
Sunday, March 12, 2017, 2:00pm
Los Angeles Public Library
Meeting Room A
630 W. Fifth St., Los Angeles, 90071
-HSSC Tour and Lecture at U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Saturday, February 11, 2017
U.S. Navy Seabee Museum, Port Hueneme, CA
Co-sponsored by the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum
Lara Godbille, the Director of the Seabee Museum, spoke on “The U.S. Navy Seabees in Southern California During World War II.” Attendees visited the newly opened exhibit The U.S. Navy Seabees in Southern California During World War II.” The exhibit tour was followed by a behind-the-scenes tour of the collection, storage, and archives.
-Lecture: Get Square With the Rebs”: The Charles M. Jenkins Civil War Diary
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University
Co-Sponsored by the HSSC and the Leatherby Libraries, Chapman University
From January to September 1865, Charles M. Jenkins, the only Los Angeles-area resident to see combat for the Union Army during the Civil War, kept a diary of his experiences in Virginia during and after the final days of the conflict. This remarkable document was forgotten in storage for over 60 years until it was unearthed last year. Speakers included: Louis Di Donato, Wayne Sherman, Paul R. Spitzzeri.
-18th Annual George A. V. Dunning Lecture
Saturday, November 5, 2016
University of California, Irvine
Professor Vicki Ruiz spoke on “Why Latino History Matters to U.S. History.”
-Archives Bazaar at USC
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California Library
The HSSC displayed artifacts from its collection and copies of the Southern California Quarterly.
-HSSC Tour of Downtown Los Angeles Noir Sites
Saturday, October 8, 2016
El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula is the second oldest city in California. Participants learned about Los Angeles and its story, with a focus on noir sites.
-Lecture: “The Jenkins Brothers: An Eye to the Substantial”
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
Co-sponsored by the Drum Barracks Civil War Museum
For 80 years, from the 1850s to the 1930s, Charles and William Jenkins were notable figures in greater Los Angeles. A panel of speakers spoke about these remarkable and controversial brothers in the greater Los Angeles area. A guided tours was given immediately following the program. Speakers included: Louis DiDonato, Alan Pollack, Wayne Sherman, Paul R. Spitzzeri.
______________________________________________________________________________-Lecture: “The Jenkins Brothers: An Eye to the Substantial”
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Old Town Newhall Library
Co-sponored by the Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society
For 80 years, from the 1850s to the 1930s, Charles and William Jenkins were notable figures in greater Los Angeles. A panel of speakers spoke about these remarkable and controversial brothers and their impact on Los Angeles and the Santa Clarita Valley. Speakers included: Louis DiDonato, Alan Pollack, Wayne Sherman, Paul R. Spitzzeri.
-Tour of St. Francis Dam and the William S. Hart Museum
Saturday, June 4, 2016
The day included a tour of the St. Francis Dam disaster area and a tour of the William S. Hart Museum and Ranch.
-Los Angeles Times Festival of Books
April 9-10, 2016
University of Southern California
HSSC publications and pre-1951 quarterlies and annuals were available for sale.
-Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Homestead Museum and the Rowland House
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the Homestead Museum and Rowland House. The tour included visiting the basements in both the Workman House and La Casa Nueva, the second floor in the Workman House, and storage rooms with archival material, including artifacts owned by the HSSC and temporarily housed at the Homestead.
–Associated Historical Societies of Los Angeles County Mini-Conference
January 30, 2016
Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum
Co-hosted by the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum
The HSSC and the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum co-hosted the Associated Historical Societies of Los Angeles County’s mini-conference. Attendees learned about the current situation of the HSSC, learned about collections management from Paul Spitzzeri, the Assistant Director of the Homestead Museum and Second Vice-President of the HSSC, and took of tour of the Homestead, which included viewing items from the HSSC collection.
-17th Annual George A. V. Dunning Lecture
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum
Nat Read spoke about Don Benito Wilson.
-Tour of San Fernando Mission and Archives
Saturday, November 7, 2015
The HSSC toured two venerable San Fernando Valley historic landmarks, the San Fernando Mission and the Lopez Adobe. The day included visiting the library and archive at the mission as well as touring the 1883 adobe, recently reopened after several years of restoration.
-Admissions Day 2015
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
San Marino, California
Alan Jutzi, Avery Chief Curator, Rare Books, spoke on, “The Huntington Library & Southern California History: A Recollection by Alan Jutzi.”
Henry E. Huntington had no personal interest in California history or in documenting his contributions to Southern California. Why then in 1916 did he begin to collect California and Western American history, and after his death how did his library become a major resource for the study of Southern California? Alan Jutzi, longtime Huntington curator, gave his own interpretation of key people and seminal collections in this development and recounted stories of his own encounters with donors, historians, and regional archival collections.