Institutions from All Over L.A. Are Hauling Out Treasures from Their Archives

More than 70 big-name museums and small town historical societies gather at the Archives Bazaar to show off the cool stuff in their collections

Most of the year, the historical treasures in L.A.’s archives and libraries are locked up tight in acid-free boxes and climate-controlled vaults, but once a year some of them get to come out and play. More than 70 institutions, from the Huntington Library and the Getty to small-town historical societies stretching from San Pedro to Glendora, will gather at the glorious Doheny Library for the Archives Bazaar on Saturday, October 12, to show off riches from their collections, and entice you to pay them a visit.

Prop volleyball used by Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” (2000)

Photo courtesy of USC Special Collections

USC is bringing out the original “Wilson” volleyball that Tom Hanks befriended in Cast Away and that now lives in the USC Cinematic Library. USC is also hauling out some utterly terrifying early medical equipment from the days California was considered “frontier” territory. One dental kit features reusable syringes and “nerve paste” that contains arsenic to deaden problem teeth. The Baseball Reliquary often displays historic sports equipment you can touch, keeping with the interactive theme.

19th Century frontier dental kit

Photo courtesy of USC Special Collections

Specialists from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be available to project your home movies on 8mm, 16mm, Super 8, or VHS, and audio engineers with cassette decks and reel-to-reel machines can play your stash of old tapes. You can finally relive your 7th birthday party with a room full of strangers—or find out from the crowd if your garage band was any good.

The day will also be filled with programming by historians, librarians, and other smarties. Christina Rice is in charge of millions of historic photographs at the Los Angeles Public Library and will be sharing memories of that beloved institution which is celebrating 25 years since their downtown home reopened after a devastating fire.

You’ll want to bring your white robes and join the cult of Father Yod when David Gartrell from UC Santa Barbara breaks out the scrapbooks from the Source Family archives in a session about nontraditional religious movements in Southern California.

Scrapbooks are a jackpot for historical researchers. You never know what’s been tucked inside. There’s even a session on the proper methods for preserving family scrapbooks. The conservators in charge might even be processing your castoffs someday, so keep ‘em clean.

Helms Bakery in Culver City, 1930s

Photo courtesy of USC Special Collections

Archives Bazaar, Sat., Oct. 12, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Doheny Memorial Library, USC University Park Campus. 

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