An overview of the special collections maintained at the Occidental Library.
We have significant holdings on the following topics: (1) Visual, literary and cultural materials including manuscripts, rare books printed before 1800, printing history, fine printing, artists' books, mystery and detective fiction, illustrations, photographs, and stereographs; (2) US West, California, Los Angeles history and the Japanese American relocation during World War II. (3) Abraham Lincoln and 19th century political life (4) Latin American studies (4) early to mid-20th century publications and (5) individual collections including poet Robinson Jeffers, journalist Bessie Beatty, and activist/writer Upton Sinclair.
Joe and Henk Friezer Photography Negatives
Photographer Henk Friezer has donated the entire photo negative archive of Friezer Photography to Occidental College Special Collections. The Joe and Henk Friezer Photography Negatives is the collected work of father and son photographers Joe and Henk Friezer, freelance photographers who lived in and built their studio in Northeast Los Angeles. Starting in 1955 and later joined in 1968 by his son Henk, Joe and Henk photographed local community and family events; numerous regional and national business and organizations, including Occidental College; prominent Los Angeles and national figures; and served as the primary news photographers for the Northeast Newspapers chain as well as contributed other regional and international news publications. Spanning over 50 years, the archive comprising 100,000+ negatives represents over 15,000 photo assignments. Read more in our new research guide, a finding aid written in May 2016 by archivist Joanna Chen Cham during her LA as Subject Residency at Occidental.
And there's more: please scroll down to see all our holdings. The list is in alphabetical order by collection name.
15th through 17th Centuries Imprints
Among the library's treasures are 143 rare works published between 1450 and 1699, such as a page from the Gutenberg Bible and several Aldine editions. Oxy History Professor Maryanne Horowitz has prepared online studies about two of Oxy's rare atlases by notable early cartographers:
18th through Early 19th Century Imprints
Includes many classics, and works that were important in the development of printing and typography such as books printed by John Baskerville and Giambattista Bodoni.
Over 240 examples of books designed, published, printed and illustrated by artists. This genre represents the evolution of book design as a creative endeavor.
William Jennings Bryan Collection
Books, family letters, newspaper clippings, sound recordings, and mementos by and about former statesman and Scopes trial prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925). The official correspondence of Bryan is housed at the Library of Congress
Robert Glass Cleland Collection on Latin America
Robert Glass Cleland, class of 1907, was an authority on Mexican and Californian history and a professor, dean, and vice president at Oxy. His collection of 1,200 books contains early bibliographies, histories, and government reports on Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Peru, Uruguay and El Salvador in English, Spanish, French, and German.
Carl Dentzel Collection
Carl Dentzel was director of the Southwest Museum of the American Indian (now part of the Autry National Center) in Northeast Los Angeles. He assembled an excellent collection on World War II propaganda, consisting of research, published reports, booklets, radio broadcasts and correspondence from international, national, and local government sources.
E. L. Doheny Research Foundation Collection
The E. L. Doheny Research Foundation funded a team of experts in several disciplines to go to Mexico and analyze the economic, political, and social climate of the country, circa 1917. Several Oxy-related historians were part of the team. There are primary materials, notes, typewritten reports, original interviews and studies.
Nelson Eddy Music Collection
Several 20th century operatic scores, sheet music and books on music from the personal library of actor and singer Nelson Eddy. The 47 document boxes (39 linear feet) of indexed sheet music provide a diverse representation of world music.
Fine Printing Collection
Over 3,000 books and several boxes of ephemera created by small private presses dedicated to the craft of fine printing and bookmaking, with an emphasis on California printers.
General Rarities Collection
Single gifts and purchases assembled in one general collection. There are first editions, unique and fragile bindings, autographed works, items purchased to enhance other collecting areas, or gifts from prominent donors. It covers a range of subjects, from science to literature.
Ned Guymon Mystery and Detective Fiction Collection
About 16,000 volumes of first editions, plus manuscripts, film scripts, periodicals and photographs pertaining to mystery and detective fiction, from 1740 to 1975. The collection is very rich in Sherlock Holmes; highlights of Gothic Fiction are also well represented. Donated by Oxy alumnus E. T. Guymon, Jr., this is one of the world's largest collections in this genre.
Max and Virginia Hayward Californiana Collection
Max E. Hayward of Hayward Lumber & Investment Co., and his wife Virginia donated in 1937 about 500 volumes of narratives and histories of early exploration of California, its settlement, gold rush, missions, natural history, and tourism.
Osgood Hardy Collection
Dr. Paul Osgood Hardy was professor of Hispanic-American history at Occidental. The collection includes his manuscripts, speeches (1913-1930), travel papers (1912-1919), and publications; also his personal diary of summer travels in Mexico containing postcards, photographs and ephemera of the region. Of special interest are documents related to the 1913-1916 Yale Peruvian Expedition to excavate Machu Picchu.
Bill Henry Collection
Materials preserved from the personal library of Los Angeles Times columnist and Olympic historian, William Mellors "Bill" Henry (1890-1970), class of 1914. Includes manuscripts, letters, press clippings, photographs, ephemera and memorabilia documenting Olympic games from 1932 to the present, 20th century Los Angeles history, presidential campaigns, and the development of aviation in Southern California. To browse a selection of materials from the Bill Henry Collection, please visit the digital collection. To learn about Bill Henry and the development of Los Angeles during the 20th century visit the online exhibit. For a full list of Oxy's Bill Henry collection visit our finding aid.
Highland Park Ebell Club Records
These records document the activities of the Ebell Club of Highland Park from its founding in 1903 to the present. Included are constitution(s) and by-laws, meeting minutes, event programs, yearbooks, club histories, financial records, scrapbooks, rental agreements, material from affiliated confederations of women’s clubs, photographs, and other records documenting the club’s social and community service functions.This collection is housed at the Ebell Club in Highland Park.
K. Garth Huston Plantin Press Collection
Approximately 150 books printed by the Plantin Press, the influential Los Angeles press of Saul and Lillian Marks. Collection includes boxes of ephemera and some correspondence between K. Garth Huston, M. D., and the Marks.
Japanese American Relocation Collection
Letters, pamphlets, newspapers, and other publications related to the forced internment of people of Japanese heritage during World War II. The core of the collection is the correspondence of Oxy President Remsen Bird as he worked to protect Oxy students of Japanese descent. A complete research guide to the collection and selected letters and papers are available in the Online Archive of the Japanese American Relocation during World War II. To navigate the collections use our Japanese American Relocation finding aid.
Robinson Jeffers Collection
Jeffers graduated from Oxy in 1905. His wife Una Jeffers, collector Albert Bender, and UCLA University Librarian Lawrence Clark Powell '28 were instrumental in starting the core of this collection in the 1930s. The collection now contains several editions of his work, foreign translations, manuscripts, and portraits of Jeffers taken by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston and other great photographers. The Robinson Jeffers online exhibition page celebrates this great poet. Use the Robinson Jeffers finding aid to learn more.
Charles D. Klamm Stereograph Collection
Extensive collection of 10,000 stereographic views, covering the Civil War, San Francisco earthquake, Los Angeles environs, California National Parks, Colorado landscape, Alaska Gold Rush, scenic pictures of Africa, Europe, South America, and Asia. The bulk of the photographs were taken during 1890-1911.
John Lloyd-Butler Railroadiana Collection
Lloyd-Butler, a California rancher, had a passionate interest in American railroading. His collection covers the history and development of American railroads from 1846 to the early 1970s. To learn more about the Railroadiana Collection visit the online exhibit.
Charles Fletcher Lummis Daily Journal (1912-1926)
Charles Lummis was a journalist, author, editor, presidential advisor to Teddy Roosevelt, advocate of Native American rights, ethnographer, and head librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. This Daily Journal is a typescript record of his life.
An enticing collection of 346 very small books, shelved in the reading room for better preservation, display and enjoyment of these delicate works. Connect to the Miniature Books online exhibit.
Barack Obama ’83
Special Collections is collecting and preserving materials related to alumnus Barack Obama. Students in "Obama and the Issues" class, Politics 265, in spring 2010 collected contemporary images of Barack Obama in global popular culture. This initial series launches a digital archive to preserve different perspectives and research related to Barack Obama, President of the United States and Alumnus of Occidental College. Selected items are organized in the digital collection.
In the Summer of 2012, the Occidental College Special Collections department and four undergraduate interns set out to document college life at Occidental by capturing personal stories of alumni. Starting in the 1930s, the interviews span 70 years and represent at least four generations of the Oxy family. The OxyCrops Student/Alumni Interviews Collection comprises 58 digital video files and transcripts created by interns, students and staff for a series of oral histories conducted in the Summer of 2012.
This collection exhibit includes biographies and other interview information for each of the alums who participated in the OxyCorps project. It also includes biographies of the four interns, and current Oxy students, who conducted the interviews. For more information on OxyCorps please visit the OxyCorps page, the collection exhibit and the finding aid.
Pauley-Voorhis Western Americana Collection
About 300 volumes about the exploration and settlement of the West, collected by Charles B. Voorhis, a Pasadena civic leader. Holdings include first-hand accounts, works by Bancroft, the magazines Land of Sunshine and Overland Weekly, and significant works related to the Mormon religion, including a very rare edition of the Book of Mormon.
Public Information Collection
Collection comprises of 34 boxes (21 linear feet) of international publications, mostly World War II propaganda, organized by country. It includes national publications, pamphlets, and radio broadcast transcripts, from 1939 to 1950s.
F. Ray Risdon Collection of Lincolniana and American Political Life
Approximately 4,000 volumes, pamphlets, photographs, newspapers, scrapbooks, presidental campaign ephemera, songsheets, autographs, daguerrotypes, and other materials pertaining to Abraham Lincoln, and in a broader sense, to the Civil War and to American presidents and political campaigns. To learn more please visit the online exhibit and the finding aid.
Ward Ritchie Collection
Ritchie ’28 was a printer, a major figure in the local culural scene, and a dedicated alumnus of the College. The collection is comprised of over 800 works from his various presses, works written by him, biographical materials, and boxes of galley proofs, mock ups, and ephemera. As a commercial printer, Ritchie published many works about Los Angeles, thus providing resources for regional history research. Click here for this collection's finding aid.
Upton Sinclair Collection
About 1,000 books by and about writer and social activist Upton Sinclair, including foreign translations and early titles published by the author's imprints. There are also periodicals and newspaper clippings, and many rare materials documenting Sinclair’s run for governor of California in 1934. Major titles are in first editions and warmly inscribed from Sinclair to Elmer Belt, who was his physician. Of particular note is the very rare “Fig Leaf Edition" of OIL!
Earle V. Weller Romantic Literature Collection
Earle V. Weller was son of Samuel Weller, first president of Occidental, and an avid collector of works by and about the English Romantic poets, with a special focus on John Keats, Lord Byron and Percy Shelley. The collection includes books, pictures, pamphlets and periodicals.
Jacob & Josephine Ver Brugge Zeitlin Collection on Bookselling, Publishing, Book Collecting and Printing
Jake Zeitlin was a prominent bookseller who helped establish a literary and artistic community in Los Angeles in the 1930s, continuing through the 1980s. Zeitlin had close personal ties to Occidental, and donated part of his collection of materials describing the history of libraries, collecting, and rare books, focused on Europe and the United States.