City of Commerce Local History Digital Resources Collection

Prepared by City of Commerce Public Library
City of Commerce Public Library
5655 Jillson Street
Commerce, CA 90040
Phone: (323) 722-6660
Fax: (323) 724-1978
E-mail: http://www.asknow.org/portal.cfm?lib=CPL
http://www.cocpl.org
© 2009
All rights reserved.

City of Commerce Local History Digital Resources Collection

Collection number: Consult library

City of Commerce Public Library

Commerce, CA 90040
Date Completed:
20090629
Encoded by:
John Marquette
© 2009. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: City of Commerce local history digital resources collection
Dates: 1890-2003
Bulk Dates: 1960-1985
Collection number: Consult library
Collector: City of Commerce Public Library (Commerce, California)
Collection Size: 2,400 images 200 online items
Repository: City of Commerce Public Library
Commerce, CA 90040
Abstract: The City of Commerce Digital Resources Collection contains images from approximately 100 years of life in and near the City of Commerce before and after its incorporation on January 28, 1960. More than half of the photographs are monochrome and focus on events which took place during the City's 20th anniversary year in 1980. The collection also contains a representative example of industries which were located in the City of Commerce and which have since relocated outside municipal boundaries. The gradual transformation from an English-language and white American heritage to one which is predominantly Latino/Hispanic is also visible through the years after the 1960 incorporation.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English
Selected digitized images from this collection.

Access

Collection is available through the California Digital Library/Online Archive of California.

Preferred Citation

City of Commerce local history digital resources collection. City of Commerce Public Library, Commerce, CA 90040.

Acquisition Information

A collection of approximately 2,400 images was placed in city archives in the early 1990s. The bulk of the cataloging was done in 1994 by library employees as a finding aid for the photographs. Approximately 2,200 photographs remain to be digitized.

Project Information

The photographs and other images in the collection are held by the City Clerk in a secure location. They were brought onsite and matched to a finding aid developed in 1994 and converted to a usable file in 2002. Cataloging was originally done by an archivist, and some changes were recently made to entries in order to ensure conformity throughout the object descriptions.
A selection of objects was chosen for review by several older residents through a series of interviews with the City Clerk. The interviews took place over a week in September and augmented the information already in the finding aid index. Objects were sent to Northern Micrographics in batches of 50 for digitization and returned to the library for review. They were then moved into the software chosen by the California State Library and Califa, the state library consortium, and uploaded to the Online Archive of California at http://oac.cdlib.org/ .
Because of the cost factor in retrieving the boxed images from secure off-site storage, access to the original paper-based images is extremely limited. All available images in the collection were scanned to California Digital Library standards  by Northern Micrographics and high-quality TIFF files are available through the City of Commerce Public Library s Adult Services Department. JPEG copies and image descriptions are available for casual viewing through the Online Archive of California.

Biography / Administrative History

The City of Commerce was created on January 28, 1960 after an affirmative vote of residents of the area created the city from unincorporated Los Angeles County territory. The city contracts for major services (police, fire, and public services) through the County of Los Angeles Sheriff's, Fire, and Public Services Departments. The population of the city in 2000 was 12,568 (source: U.S. Census Bureau).

Scope and Content of Collection

The City of Commerce Digital Resources Collection contains images from approximately 100 years of life in and near the City of Commerce before and after its incorporation on January 28, 1960. More than half of the photographs are monochrome and focus on events which took place during the City s 20th anniversary year in 1980. The collection also contains a representative example of industries which were located in the City of Commerce and which have since relocated outside municipal boundaries. The gradual transformation from an English-language and white American heritage to one which is predominantly Latino/Hispanic is also visible through the years after the 1960 incorporation.
The photographs, microfiche, microfilm, realia, and ephemera in the complete collection are housed in a series of boxes, file cabinets, and scrapbooks. The materials are, for the most part, stored in sealed boxes and are unavailable to anyone. An electronic index to the photograph file is available, but it is not possible to view any of the items located in the index. The items selected had the most available documentation, were topical, and had a size suitable for shipment. In addition, they did not have to be unbound from library scrapbooks which are deteriorating from their acid-based paper stock and have become brittle.
The library documents the formation of a city devoted to the attraction of business through providing an industry-friendly and the communities surrounding it from which it drew many of the businesses' employees. Its location, originally adjacent to two rail yards and astride old United States Highway 101 (now the Santa Ana Freeway, or Interstate 5), made it an ideal location for manufacturing and trans-shipment of goods throughout the United States. The city's founders drew its borders to minimize the acreage devoted to residential housing and maximize the amount designated for business and commercial operations. Nevertheless, a tight-knit community of residents of the "Bandini" section of unincorporated East Los Angeles were left within the proposed city limits. Residents chose through the electoral process to incorporate, and the city was formally incorporated as a "general law" (Lakewood-model) city on January 28, 1960.
As decades passed, state pollution laws became more stringent. Companies depending on volatile fluids abandoned the city for "friendlier" jurisdictions. In their place, the Commerce Card Club/Commerce Casino was opened in 1983. At the time, the Commerce Casino was "the largest card club in the world" (Elliott, City of Commerce: An Enterprising Heritage, 1991) and provided a significant amount of the revenues lost by the departure of manufacturers. The photographs, book (Elliott), and other material the library wishes to digitize in the future come from the period of its founding through the city's transformation from traditionally-processed photographs to digital media. The first 200 cover the period from about 1890 to about 2003. Subsequent submissions will focus on images originating digitally or having been converted digitally at an earlier time.
Residents of the city and surrounding community have access to more of their history as well as the industries which benefited it and often damaged it through pollution. The image repository will assist relatives and descendants of residents of the area in understanding the city it played in the history of California.
The digitized images represent the development and transformation of Los Angeles County from a manufacturing-oriented economy to a service-based economy. They also show the process of demographic change in the county, with people of Latino/Hispanic origin becoming an electoral majority and subsequently assuming most of the elected and appointed roles in city government.
This project was funded by the Institute of Museum and Library services and managed by the California State Library and the Online Archive of California.

Subjects

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Quigley, Maurice H.
Pahl, Kathryn
Long, Eva
Bristow, James W.
Thornburg, Leone
Scheibler, Charles
U.S. Tire and Rubber Company
U.S. Royal Tires
Trammell Crow Company
Commerce Casino
Union Pacific Railroad
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Los Angeles County Fire Department
Commerce (Calif.)
Union Pacific Railroad East Yard -- California -- Commerce (Calif.)
Aquatorium
Veterans Memorial Park
Rosewood Park
Bristow Park
Bandini Park