Issue 2: Disasters

Photo: Gary Leonard, Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Editors Note

Welcome to the second issue of Acid Free, a quarterly online publication of the Los Angeles Archivists Collective. 

As archivists situated on America’s most famous fault-line, with hundreds of thousands of acres burning in wildfires statewide, five years into a severe drought of epic proportions, our coast and waterways currently teeming with record toxic algae blooms, perhaps it's easy to feel the looming threat of doom and disaster...

Originally inspired by the disaster preparedness responsibilities inherent to archival work, this issue of Acid Free looks beyond our duties as responders, mitigators, and conservators, and examines DISASTER as several things—as natural occurrence; as acts of God and Man; as the often silent and commonly unacknowledged imperative underlying (Western) assumptions of human endeavor, progress, and evolution.

What constitutes DISASTER? What does DISASTER look like in 2016? How have these views and definitions changed over time? How do we (society) diminish the experience of disaster? How do we (archivists) facilitate the inclusion of these experiences within larger collective/cultural memories?

In light of the many disasters (defined here as you see fit) occurring today in our communities, in our habitat, and across the larger globe, we hope the articles presented here will give pause, allow us to consider the varying definitions, causes, and implications of DISASTER, and elicit more questions and conversations in this direction.


Person: ProjectARCC

Person explores archival culture through interviews with professionals active in the field. In this edition, LAAC spoke with ProjectARCC: Archivists Responding to Climate Change.

Place: L.A. Riots, 1992

Place explores archival repositories and examines local landmarks as they appear in the archival record. This edition features Koreatown and South Los Angeles in 1992 during the Los Angeles Riots, and focuses on the destruction and chaos that stemmed from the event.

Thing: Archives of Thirst

Thing explores archival culture by highlighting historic documents, collections, exhibits, and artifacts. This edition highlights the archival research and questions posed by the Natural History Museum's 2013 exhibition, Just Add Water, as they relate to the building of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

A/V: 1933 L.A. Earthquake

Footage from the 1933 Los Angeles earthquake from Pathe News, Inc., originally on 16mm film and digitized by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project (CAVPP).

In Process: Jana Gowan

In Process highlights the activities, experiences, and insights of current archival studies students as they develop their own perspectives on issues, trends, and events in the field. Jana Gowan discusses her research related to writing her graduate thesis on accessing memories of the Dust Bowl.

Researcher: LAADP

Our researcher spotlight highlights individuals making innovative uses of archival materials. This edition profiles Jasmine Jones of UCLA Library’s Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform (LAADP).

Out of Town Digital Projects

A quick roundup of noteworthy out-of-town digital projects related to this month’s theme of DISASTERS.

Events: AV Workshop Recap

A recap of the Moving Image Media Workshop jointly held by LAAC, UCLA AMIA Student Chapter, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Department of Educational Initiatives hosted the Archaeology of Moving Image Media Workshop in May 2016.


A roundup of accomplishments and news from Los Angeles-area archivists and repositories. 

Events: SAA Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA

The Los Angeles Archivists Collective was present at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists, held in Atlanta, Georgia, August 1 through August 6. In this event recap, we share some of our favorite photos from the conference. 

Take a look at our Acid Free archive.

Read all of the stories from Issue 1: Labor.