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IN 2006, Azusa Pacific University Libraries Special Collections added to its more than 600 books published on the history of Los Angeles by acquiring community, corporate, and institutional histories, biographies and autobiographies, bibliographies and reference works, monographs, and regional studies for the state of California.  This, our inaugural issue of The Vault, will highlight four of the acquisitions that capture and preserve several important eras along with the map books that expand this historic scope.

C O L L E C T I N G  L O C A L  C A L I F O R N I A  H I S T O R Y

Rare Los Angeles Directories

The Directory of Los Angeles for 1875, compiled by J.A. Oliver and S. Armor, is the city’s second directory and the earliest complete directory for the city.  The directory, previously owned by historian F. B. Houghton, a founding member of the California Historical Society, lists Prudent Beaudry as mayor and notes the completion of the Los Angeles and San Pedro Railroad in 1869.  The city, a dozen years before the land boom of the 1880s, served as home to seven book dealers, twenty-eight teachers, thirty-three printers, twenty-seven social clubs, twelve churches, three military companies, and two brass bands.  Other copies of this important directory may be found at the Huntington Library, California State Library, UCLA, Honnold/Mudd Library, and the American Antiquarian Society.

Fewer known copies exist of the third city directory of Los Angeles, compiled by Aaron Smith and published in 1878.  Azusa Pacific University’s copy is from the estate of Edwin A. Carson with his penciled signature on the front fly leaf.  Edwin was the seventh son of George Henry Carson and Maria Victoria Dominguez Carson, owners of the original Dominguez Rancho.  Frederick A. MacDougal, a charter member of the Los Angeles Social Club, was mayor of the city when its population was between 11,000 and 13,000 on less than thirty square miles of area.  Los Angeles, founded by Spain as El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, had survived a disastrous flood four years earlier, and was three years away from celebrating its centennial.  The only other known copies of  the 1878 Directory of the City of Los Angeles reside at the Huntington Library, the California Historical Society, and in the hands of a private collector.  Only the Huntington Library and Azusa Pacific University own both directories.

1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles


Azusa Pacific University’s athletic program has produced six Olympians who have taken home medals at the games, making the purchase of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics Directory an inspiring institutional asset.  The directory is housed in a full black morocco clam shell box and contains the autographs of more than ninety athletes who competed in the Games of the X Olympiad.

The signatures from the United States include Olympic sprint champion Eddie Tolan, long jump winner Edward Gordon, and silver and bronze medal winner Ralph Metcalfe, who would lose to Jesse Owens in the 100 meters by one-tenth of a second in the 1936 Olympic games.

Other signatures include Canadian Horace “Lefty” Gwynne, gold medal winner in bantam weight boxing; Haruhiko Kon and Sadayoshi Kobayashi, both members of Japan’s silver medal-winning field hockey team, and gold medalist Louis Hostin of France in heavyweight weightlifting.  Also included is the autograph of Carlos Padilla, Jr., a welterweight boxer from the Philippines, who would later referee the third Ali-Frazier fight in Manilla.

Because of the Great Depression and the remoteness of Los Angeles only half as many athletes participated in the 1932 games as had in 1928.  Despite this, eighteen world records were either equaled or broken and several firsts made the news:  China and Columbia competed for the first time each sending one athlete, and, a new official automatic timing and photo finish camera recorded the events.

The Maps of Los Angeles

Dawson’s Bookshop published W. W. Robinson’s, Maps of Los Angeles:  From Ord’s Survey of 1849 to the End of the Boom of the Eighties in 1966.  This well-known volume is printed by Saul and Lillian Marks at the Plantin Press and published in a limited edition of 380 copies.  APU’s copy is a two-volume, slip-cased edition where volume one is the book and volume two contains the typescript of the text with printer’s notations in pencil along with correspondence related to the design and printing of the book.

The Maps of San Francisco

Other books related to the W. W. Robinson volume include three by Neal Harlow, The Maps of San Francisco Bay (1950) printed by the Grabhorn Press with a rare pencil signature by Harlow, Maps and Surveys of the Pueblo Lands of Los Angeles (1976), and Maps of the Pueblo Lands of San Diego, 1602 – 1874 (1987).  Both signed copies are printed by The Castle Press.

Two books by Carl I. Wheat, The Maps of the California Gold Region, 1848-1857 (1942), and his magisterial, Mapping the Transmississippi West, a five-volume work completed in six volumes and published between 1957 and 1963, demonstrate the importance of map making to California history.

Disenos of California Ranchos

Two volumes by Robert H. Becker, Disenos of California Ranchos (1964) and Designs on the Land: Disenos of California Ranchos and Their Makers (1969), printed by The Grabhorn Press and by Grabhorn-Hoyem, reproduce and explain 101 disputed Mexican Era land maps and titles.  Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain (1965) by Ernest J. Burrus and California as an Island with a Checklist of Maps, 1622-1785 (1967) by J. Leighly, complete the number of fine-printed volumes in APU’s bibliocartography collection.

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