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Peek in the Stacks: urban archives

Mothers in the Archives

Most countries celebrate Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. This year, Mother’s Day is on May 12th. There are many ways to celebrate our mothers. In the United States, many of us buy flowers, candy, jewelry, or create something to show appreciation. However, throughout history, there have been political and cultural events that have shaped this tradition...

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Environmental Collections

The first Earth Day, observed across the country on April 22, 1970, was the product of local grassroots action to increase environmental awareness. Activities that day were not created by organizers in Washington, but by individuals and communities who worked to focus the nation’s political agenda on environmental issues. Special Collections and Archives holds several collections that document the history of environmental ...

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Gilbert G. Benjamin Subversive Activities Collection

Gilbert G. Benjamin, Jr. began working for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1946, and was posted in both Virginia and Washington D.C. before being transferred to Los Angeles in 1957. The Gilbert G. Benjamin Jr. Subversive Activities Collection documents his work in Los Angeles, and includes documentation of communist and other subversive activities across Southern California ...

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Bud and Louise

On March 14, 1947, a yacht in Newport Harbor exploded with two people aboard, Walter Overell, a wealthy businessman, and his wife, Beulah. Both were seemingly killed by the blast, and the yacht sank to the ocean floor. While the initial report suggested the explosion might have been caused by an engine malfunction and leaking gasoline, it was soon discovered that the blast was actually caused by dynamite....

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School Desegregation and Busing in Los Angeles

In 1961, Mary Ellen Crawford, an African-American teen, attempted to enroll at South Gate High School, the closest high school to her home. The Los Angeles Unified School District refused her request, and directed her to enroll at the more-distant Jordan High School. Jordan’s student body was 99% African-American, while South Gate High's was 98% caucasian. Crawford's parents filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging that the Los Angeles Unified School District exercised discriminatory attendance boundary practices....

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California Water Collections

Water history, particularly the controversy surrounding water rights and access, has dramatically and incontrovertibly shaped the growth and development of Los Angeles.  Nearly 100 years ago, the dedication and opening of the Los Angeles Aqueduct on November 5, 1913 was the culmination of many years of work on the part of William Mulholland and others at Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power. More than any other ...

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Agness M. Underwood Collection

Agness Underwood was a Los Angeles newspaperwoman for forty-two years. During the 1930s and 1940s she was one of the city's best-known court and police reporters. In 1946, she became city editor of the Herald Express, a post she held for seventeen and a half years. No man had ever held the job more than four years. At the time she was the only female city editor of a major American metropolitan newspaper. During her ...

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