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USC Libraries receive Documenting Democracy grant

by Bill Dotson
An architectural drawing from the USC Libraries' Edward Fickett collection (Photo/USC Libraries' Special Collections)
Photo: An architectural drawing from the USC Libraries' Edward Fickett collection (Photo/USC Libraries' Special Collections)

The USC Libraries have received a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) as part of the commission’s Documenting Democracy program. The purpose of the program is to enable preservation of and access to unique, essential resources that promote understanding of U.S. history and culture.

The $86,000 award will support the libraries’ work to make available the collection of Los Angeles architect Edward Fickett. The collection documents Fickett’s role as a key figure in defining the aesthetic environment of post-World War II Los Angeles. It covers the 50-year career of the mid-century modernist architect, who shaped the appearance of Southern California’s residential suburbs and designed libraries, structures for the Port of Los Angeles and Edwards Air Force Base, and custom homes for Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marx and other celebrities.

Among the items in the collection are thousands of floor plans, sections and elevations — as well as three-dimensional models, photographs of Fickett’s projects by Julius Shulman, correspondence and business records documenting his career from 1945 to 1997. The collection has been featured in exhibitions such as Overdrive: LA Constructs the Future 1940-1990, currently at the Getty Center through July 21.

The grant also contributes to the libraries’ ongoing development of regional history resources that support Los Angeles-related research at USC and beyond and support USC’s role as a vital center for understanding and investigating the history of Los Angeles as a Pacific Rim metropolis.

Fickett, who attended USC in the 1930s, was a member of the USC Architectural Guild. His wife, Joycie, donated the collection to the libraries in 2010.

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