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Hidden L.A. Stories

Hidden L.A. Stories
Two women near the Eagle Rock in the neighborhood of the same name

Los Angeles history will come alive Oct. 23 at the fifth annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar.

Organized by L.A. as Subject and presented by the USC Libraries, the annual event celebrates the diversity of Southern California’s history.

For scholarly researchers, journalists, history buffs and those simply interested in exploring the stories of Los Angeles, discovery awaits everyone at the daylong event.

The USC Libraries serve as the host institution for L.A. as Subject, an alliance of libraries, museums and other archival and cultural organizations. The relationship, which complements the USC libraries’ strong Regional History Collection, is a natural outgrowth of the libraries’ efforts to preserve and expand access to the primary sources of Los Angeles history.

The Archives Bazaar draws its strength from the breadth and variety of its participants’ collections. Large institutions such as the Autry National Center of the American West and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County are represented at the bazaar. Participants also include smaller organizations and personal collections whose materials fill the gaps left in the city’s official history.

“You can pick and choose from over 70 collections and tailor your day to your own interests,” said Jim Beardsley, associate archivist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a member of L.A. as Subject’s executive committee. “It’s a rare opportunity to talk to 10 or 20 exhibitors in one day. You couldn’t do that online or by traveling around L.A.”

Michael Palmer, who chairs the bazaar’s planning committee, said: “The records of Los Angeles’ past are widely scattered. Many minorities — in particular those that did not share in the culture of those who held political power — are under-represented in official government records. It is only in the last 20 or 30 years that the personal records of these minorities have been systematically collected.”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the bazaar, as well as the event’s debut in USC’s historic Doheny Memorial Library. The Los Angeles Times Reference Room and Periodical Room will serve as the event’s exhibition hall, showcasing collections from diverse institutions.

The bazaar also includes a rich suite of programming, which includes panel discussions and documentary film screenings.

A highlight will be an address at 11 a.m. by special guest Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times columnist and KPCC radio host. Morrison has been one of the city’s keenest observers.

She was a member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting teams that covered the 1992 L.A. riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. She is also the author of Rio L.A.: Tales From the Los Angeles River, a chronicle of the city’s eponymous waterway.

Two documentaries will be screened. The Legend of Pancho Barnes tells the story of a female pilot who opened a dude ranch and restaurant on the current site of Edwards Air Force Base. The ranch became a famous hangout for test pilots and later was featured in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Right Stuff. A 20-minute preview of Bridging the Divide: Tom Bradley and the Politics of Race also will be shown. The film chronicles the rise of L.A.’s first black mayor and the multiracial coalition that propelled him to power.

Four panels featuring authors and other experts in regional history will highlight themes from Southern California’s past.

“Uncovering the Legacy of David Alfaro Siqueiros” will focus on the renowned Mexican mural painter who briefly visited Los Angeles in 1932 and defied attempts to censor his artistic vision.

In “Blogging L.A.,” Nancy Mills (“Tales of Downtown”) and Kevin Roderick (“L.A. Observed”) will examine the increasingly important role blogs play in interpreting the city’s past, present, and future. “Extra! Extra! Read All About It!” will bring together veteran journalists and archivists to discuss the newspaper industry through the city’s history. For “L.A. Takes Flight,” researchers into Southern California’s aviation history will share the hidden stories about human flight they have found in the region’s libraries and archives.

In addition, two educational sessions – “Researching L.A. 101” and “Private Passion, Public Resource” – are designed to share best practices for unearthing L.A.’s hidden stories and to inspire individual collectors to turn their work into something of public worth.

In the buildup to the fifth anniversary of the Archives Bazaar, the USC Libraries have developed a new Web site for L.A. as Subject that provides a richer expression of the diversity and connections between member organizations.

Visit the site at to discover more of L.A.’s hidden stories.

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