Encompassing more than 300 archival collections, the Huntington’s California holdings are of the first rank for the study of the state’s history. Materials range chronologically from the late 18th century to the present and consist of all manner of media, including manuscripts, books, broadsides, photographs, maps, audiovisual materials, and realia. English and Spanish are the two principal languages.
The Library’s materials document extensively the history of California's infrastructure from the eighteenth century on: agricultural, urban, power, and water. As a result, our collections also document labor, migration, land use, environmental history, and to a lesser extent Indigenous history. Collections such as the 19th-century Abel Stearns papers and the 20th-century Southern California Edison records are among the Library’s premier holdings on California land use and development. Also noteworthy are the more than 2,100 maps and sketch maps of Los Angeles, Southern California ranchos, and subdivisions of the city of Los Angeles and neighboring towns found in the Solano-Reeve Collection.
Personal diaries and letters, some dating to the 1850s, provide exceptional research opportunities for women’s history. Especially notable are materials of Californio women of the nineteenth century such as María Amparo Ruiz de Burton and Latina leaders in 20th century Southern California like Gloria Molina. The papers of feminists such as Caroline Maria Seymour Severance and records of Southern California women’s clubs like the Ebell Club are other noteworthy 19th-century resources. These strengths continue in twentieth-century holdings on professional women’s organizations and businesswomen like Grace Nicholson.
Migrant history, that is, the movement of persons from one country to another, is a distinct collecting field. Nineteenth-century Californio family papers often concern American and European migrants to California before 1846, besides Spanish and Mexican migrants. For the twentieth century, the personal records of Mexican/Mexican-American families document the migrant experience first-hand.
California’s legal and political history, including civil rights, is represented in the papers of lawyers such as Loren Miller and H. W. O’Melveny; governors and judges; and Los Angeles county and city officials. The Los Angeles County Court records, on long-term deposit, support scholarship related to the Los Angeles legal system and Southern California’s social and ethnic history.
Early California Population Project Research Guide
Guide to American Historical Manuscripts at The Huntington Library
Guide to Historical Manuscript Collections Dealing with Water in the North American West at The Huntington Library
Los Angeles Area Court Records Research Guide
Newspaper Collections Research Guide
Southern California Architecture Research Guide
California Letter Sheets depicting life during the California Gold Rush era
Palmer Conner Collection of Color Slides of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Area Court Records
Los Angeles Times Company Records
Los Angeles County Assessor Road Maps
Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission
Ernest Marquez Collection
Photograph Album from C. F. Lummis to Susanita Del Valle
C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs
Solano-Reeve Collection of Los Angeles survey maps
Southern California Edison Photographs and Negatives
Tract Maps from Southern California
Views of Old Chinatown, Los Angeles
Dick Whittington Studio Collections of Negatives and Photographs
Banner image credit: Western Union telegram to Loren Miller. mssMiller papers, Loren Miller papers. Gift of Loren Miller, Jr., December 2006.