Special Collections
UCLA Library Special Collections

Programs and Projects

Center for Primary Research and Training

The UCLA Library created the Center for Primary Research and Training to integrate special collections materials more fully into the teaching and research mission of the university. The center provides a substantive educational experience for graduate students by training them in archival methods, while simultaneously making accessible lesser-known collections through the creation of finding aids, or guides. It was launched with a generous lead gift from the Ahmanson Foundation.

Recognizing that many faculty in the social sciences, humanities, and visual arts want to give their students experience with primary sources and that many graduate students are looking for original subjects for theses and dissertations, the center pairs students with unprocessed or under-processed collections in their areas of interest. Students have access to materials that others have not yet fully investigated, and their training in archival organization and description results in making those collections more accessible to other researchers. They are compensated at a rate competitive with similar on-campus employment options such as teaching and research assistantships.

Collecting Los Angeles

"Collecting Los Angeles" gathers, preserves, interprets, and makes accessible UCLA Library collections documenting the remarkable multiplicity of cultures and at-risk hidden histories of the Los Angeles region. This innovative project builds on the Library’s existing strengths in special collections, photo archives, oral histories, maps, books, and circulating materials that reflect the history, communities, culture, and civic life in Southern California. It was established with funding from a $5-million, five-year gift given by the Arcadia Fund to support transformational changes in UCLA Library collections and in the services that support them.

Golden State Mutual Processing Project

Gathering in lobby of Golden State Mutual Life Ins. Co. buildingThe Haynes Foundation is supporting the processing of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Co., Inc. historical records, which date from 1866 to 2008. These records provide unparalleled documentation of the activities of the largest African-American-owned insurance business, and historically one of the largest black-owned businesses, in the western United States. GSM also functioned as a civic hub and a cultural icon for African-American Angelenos on the rise. The project will integrate UCLA’s existing holdings of GSM material, donated by one of the founders in 1986, with a significant new donation acquired after the company ceased operations, and produce a new finding aid that will greatly enhance researchers’ access to the collection.

Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform

In partnership with Lauren Bon and Metabolic Studio, UCLA Library Special Collections developed the Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform in commemoration of the Aqueduct’s centennial, November 5, 2013.  The platform provides access to digitized archival resources from UCLA Library Special Collections, including photographs, documents, maps, and pamphlets. Featuring original scholarship from graduate students in the Center for Primary Research and Training, a program in UCLA Library Special Collections, the platform serves as a space where scholars, writers, and students share research that contextualizes the Aqueduct’s historical, social, political, and environmental impact on California and the nation.

The platform will also provide access to more than 2000 archival resource descriptions from six California institutions: Braun Research Library at the Autry National Center; Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library, The Claremont Colleges and the Claremont Colleges Digital Library; Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge; Eastern California Museum; William H. Hannon Library at Loyola Marymount University; and UC Riverside Libraries, Water Resources Collections and Archives. Incorporating these resources into the Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform enables users to search across the holdings of multiple repositories to discover archival materials.

Los Angeles Times Photo Archive Index Conversion

The Los Angeles Times Photo Archive is one of the UCLA Library’s largest and most important collections, containing approximately 4 million prints and negatives. The archive spans from 1920 to 1990 and unique among its content is the amount of photographic evidence concerning the Los Angeles region during this time. The range of documentary material reflecting L.A. politics, Hollywood entertainment, the built environment, arts and culture, race relations, industry, growth and development is perhaps unrivaled. The Los Angeles Times Photo Archive project to convert the paper indexes will result in an online database that will allow patrons to search the entire collection.  Funding for this project has been generously provided by the Arcadia Fund.

June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive

The June L. Mazer Lesbian Archive at UCLA is an outreach and collection-building partnership between the June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) and the UCLA Library. These collections expand the pool of primary source materials available to researchers and to the community at large. This partnership was initiated by CSW and is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to inventory, organize, preserve, and digitize more than eighty Mazer collections pertaining to lesbian and feminist activism and writings.