Explore Local History This Saturday At The Los Angeles Archives Bazaar
Despite the fact that Los Angeles is, objectively, the most interesting and beautiful city in the history of the world, far too many people write it off as being a place without a past. "L.A.’s the victim of many slanders, but one of the most pernicious is that the city has no history," Nathan Masters, who manages public history programs at the USC libraries, told LAist.
Enter the 11th annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar, a glorious celebration of diverse Southern California stories and the institutions and archives that preserve them.
"A day or even an hour at the Archives Bazaar will disabuse anyone of the notion [that Los Angeles doesn't have history]," said Masters. "It's the one day each year you can tour more than 80 archives in one place and talk to the historical experts who preserve Southern California's truly rich and diverse history."
Imagine a grand, cavernous room in USC's Doheny Memorial Library filled to the brim with tables of exhibitors, displaying ephemera from, and information about, their various collections. Antiquities, as Francis Bacon once wrote, are the remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time. Though the collections represented by no means warehouse the ancient (our history is of, shall we say, a more recent vintage), each map and scrap and postcard on display stands as a tiny, beautiful missive—preserved in amber and/or plastic wrap—from a place that no longer exists: a past Los Angeles.
The Archives Bazaar—which is presented as a partnership between USC Libraries and L.A. As Subject—is particularly rich in film and TV history resources (the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, UCLA Film & Television Archive and the Writers Guild Foundation Library and Archive are among this year's exhibitors), but there is truly something for everyone amid the bounty.
Attendees can find out more about utilizing broad collections like the Los Angeles City Archives, or far more niche interests, like the Ayn Rand Archives, the LA84 Foundation, the Baseball Reliquary, and—my personal favorite—the David Boulé California Orange Collection. The full slate of exhibitors for this year's fest can be found here.
Literally everyone who matters (in the field of regional history) will be there. I'm talking historical societies, special collections, and museums. It's not a stretch to say that weekend two of Desert Trip will basically be the poor man's Archives Bazaar. Heck, spend two hours walking around the booths in Doheny and you'll have seen so much crazy historical shit that Altamont will seem like a total snooze-fest in comparison.
For those who tire of perusing and schmoozing with the 86 (!) local institutions on hand, the Archives Bazaar also boasts a full day of programming on local history and archival practices. We are particularly excited for "Governing Paradise" and "Uncovering the Hidden History of the St. Francis Dam Disaster." “Governing Paradise,” a panel moderated by BFD-architecture writer Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG, will delve into what the idea of "utopia" means in the context of 21st-century urbanism in a megacity like Los Angeles. During the St. Francis presentation, historian and documentary filmmaker Jon Wilkman will speak about the role water played in the growth of Southern California, and William Mulholland's greatest, haunting failure: the tragic collapse of the St. Francis Dam on March 12, 1928, which released a flood that killed more than 400 people. Needless to say, it's gonna be lit.
The 11th Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar will be held on Saturday, October 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Doheny Memorial Library at 3550 Trousdale Parkway on the USC campus. You can be cool and take the Expo Line, or find parking information here.