Overview of the Collection
Scope and Contents
Overview of the Collection
Collection Title: Surfing Collection
Physical Description: 21.16 linear ft
Special Collections & University Archives
5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego, CA, 92182-8050
Although surfing existed for hundreds of years before it was embraced by American culture, the sport did not receive national
recognition until the mid-Twentieth Century. The "royal sport for the natural kings" as Jack London called it in 1907, was
quickly popularized by the onset on American film, music, and the dedication of professional surfers. Beach themed movies
Gidget (1959) and surf music from the Beach Boys and Dick Dale contributed to the Californian allure, and San Diego saw a major increase
of surfers out in the water.
Though much of San Diego's early surf history has gone undocumented, most historians agree that the modern age of surfing
began in California with the arrival of George Freeth in 1907 and Duke Kahanamoku in 1912. The end of the Second World War
saw a marked change in the jovial, communal environment that surfers once embraced. During the war, the military procured
major stretches of beach for training grounds, closing many of the best breaks in the process. Technological advancements
like foam boards and wetsuits aided the accessibility of the sport, and more and more people were able to get out into the
water without discomfort.
In the late 1950's, Southern California saw an explosion in the surf scene, causing more experienced, older surfers to seek
out unfound breaks along the coast and into Mexico. The
Gidget phenomenon drew people from the mainland toward the coast to pursue unrealistic expectations about surf culture. By the 1960's
surfing had become part of the American identity.The sport was embraced by the masses on a grand scale.
Whereas surfing was once influenced by the relaxed Hawaiian cultural practices of hula, the ukulele, and the "aloha" spirit,
the younger generation of surfers became more interested in slashing and destroying waves, shorter foam boards, and establishing
surfing as a youthful counterculture. Cultural transitions during the 1960's also added to the appeal of California beaches,
as surfers were seen as individualistic athletes uninterested in corporate city life. The prominence of the short board, coupled
with a global interest in competitive surfing marked the departure from the "golden years" of Freeth and the famous Duke Kahanamoku.
San Diego arguably has some of the most consistent surf in the continental US, and several spots are sought out by prominent
professional surfers. In 2001, Cortez Bank was discovered one hundred miles west of San Diego, yielding some of the largest
waves ever ridden. The discovery of the spot has firmly planted San Diego in the world of big wave surfing, and the county
is still a vibrant center for surf culture and art.
Conditions Governing Use:
The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with
the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections
is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Requests for permission to publish must be
submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission
is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission
of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available
for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including
but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Identification of item, folder title, box number, Surfing Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library
and Information Access, San Diego State University.
A significant portion of this collection has been cataloged, and can be accessed via the PAC.
Information about related materials is available at http://libpac.sdsu.edu/search~S0?/tsurfing+collection/tsurfing+collection/1%2C2%2C752%2CB/exact&FF=tsurfing+collection&1%2C751%2C
Scope and Contents
Surfing Collection documents surfing and surf culture through article clippings and documents, as well as ephemera and media that describe surf
culture, surfing's history, and information about surfing.
Series I: Documents contain various articles, bibliographies, and syllabi related to surfing.
Series II: Media and Ephemera contains ephemera such as toys, stickers, postcards, playing cards, advertisements, menus, fliers, clippings, as well as
several pieces of audiovisual material.
Series III: Periodicals includes various surfing periodicals from 1963 to the present. A portion of the Surfing Collection is cataloged, and can
be accessed via the library catalog: http://libpac.sdsu.edu/search~S0?/tsurfing+collection/tsurfing+collection/1%2C2%2C752%2CB/exact&FF=tsurfing+collection&1%2C751%2C".