Southern California Genealogical Society

Local Resources - LA as Subject
By Beverly Mateer Taylor

In 1999 the Getty Research Institute published "Cultural Inheritance, a Directory of Less-Visible Archives and Collections in the Los Angeles Region." When I recently tried to acquire a copy, I learned simultaneously that the book is no longer available and that an updated version is online under the name "L.A. as Subject" at

The data was collected during a four-year research project begun in 1995 to identify historical and cultural resources about the Los Angeles region and to make them more accessible to scholars, researchers, and community historians.

Institutions included are those which responded to a survey by supplying a description of their archive or col­lection, listing the types of materials, time periods repre­sented, languages of the materials, demographic profile, access (public hours, reservations, etc.), and management (catalog, lending policy, etc.).

This Website is extremely user-friendly. The design is attractive and uncluttered. An introductory paragraph explains what is there and why. Search options are clearly presented. From the home page, searches can be made by keyword or institution. Clicking on "additional search options" leads to four categorical choices: Holdings Type, Time Periods, Language, and Sectors of the Population. (The question relating to adding a collection to the list is for institutions to request inclusion.)

Keyword Search is the only choice that does not provide a list from which to choose. Notice keyword is sin­gular-if you type in more than one word (except for a name such as San Gabriel), it ignores all but the first. The first time you use the site, click on the down arrows at the end of each of the boxes to see what is offered, in order to get a better feel for the organization. The number of references is in parentheses after each item on every list. A single institution may be listed in more than one cate­gory.

  • Institutions offers the choice of an alphabetical list of all institutions or type of institution, such as archive, charitable organization, church/mosque/synagogue/tem­ple, college, individual collection, etc.
  • Holdings choices include artist, artwork, books, databases, diaries/journals/personal papers, maps, memorabilia, or newspaper clippings.
  • Time periods range from 1848 to the present, with years covered that appear to relate to histor­ical trends rather than a fixed number of years.
  • Languages refers to the language of materials in the collection.
  • Sectors of the Population includes choices of various eth­nic groups, economic groups, organizations, gender spe­cific, etc.

Search results are listed in a pop-up window with the name of each institution followed by the first three lines of its description. Clicking on the name of an institution brings up another window that gives all the relevant infor­mation about that collection. As in the print publication, the format is the same for each institution, which makes scanning the page for specific details very quick and easy. The information about a single archive can be printed out on one (sometimes two) pages. Moving back and forth from institution to results list to search page is very easy using the close window and back commands that appear in the window.

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