Issue 4: Occult

Editors Note

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

OCCULT is defined as "not revealed; not easily apprehended or understood; hidden from view."

In this issue of Acid Free, we pull back the veil between our world and the unknown, and invite you to explore "photographs in which tables and dolls levitate, ectoplasm erupts from the mouths of mediums, and ghosts hover;" books bound in human skin (or found not to be); and the ways an Aquarian bookshop or an Arkestra teleport communities to higher realms through word and sound.

More importantly, as archivists, we want to ask how and why certain histories are shrouded or obscured, and explore how alternative modes of existing and thinking within modern society might inform our archival practice and everyday lives.

We hope you enjoy this issue, and we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a note at


Mothers of Magic

Spiritualist movements were always populated by female followers, but it was also a context in which a woman straining against the gendered expectations of the day could find their own space to live—and to lead.

Profile · Megan Rosenbloom

This interview with Megan Rosenbloom includes topics on her love for the history of medicine, her trajectory towards Medical Librarianship, directing Death Salon events, and even her research with books made from human skin.

Manly P. Hall Archives

This brief history details one of the most uniquely occult collections in Los Angeles, the Manly P. Hall Alchemy Archive, which recently saw considerable attention in the Art of Alchemy exhibit at the Getty Research Institute.

Astrological Archives

The music archives of a renowned classical guitarist provides a look into early 20th century astrological practice

Door to the Cosmos

Audio engineer Todd Carter writes about their Sun Ra/El Saturn project, which digitized hundreds of audio tapes recorded by the iconoclastic composer and bandleader Sun Ra (1914-1993).

Spirit Photography

Melissa Haley explores the wide-ranging world of spirit and unexplained photography by highlighting the collections of a number of archival repositories around the United States.

Athanasius Kircher

Kelly Kress describes a visit to the Museum of Jurassic Technology and her encounter with the work of Athanasius Kircher.

The Aquarian Age:
Alfred & Bernice Ligon

Highlighting an oral history and archival collection of Alfred and Bernice Ligon, proprietors and owners of the Aquarian Bookshop and Spiritual Center.

Searching for the First California Cuisine

Richard Foss explores California cuisine and highlights issues with archival records in California collections.


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

Recent Events

Recaps of recent events by the Social Activities Subcommittee. 

Acid Free Archive

Issue 1: Labor