The C.C. Pierce collection constitutes one of the most important collections of historical photographs of early California
and Los Angeles extant. The collection of 10,100 prints was assembled by Charles C. Pierce, a photographer and long-time operator
of a thriving Los Angeles photographic business. The collection is divided into nine topical headings devised by Pierce. These
include Los Angeles Historical; Indians; Missions; California cities, counties, etc.; Industries and Agriculture; Transportation;
Natural History; Art and Architecture; and Miscellaneous Scenery. Within these large sections are smaller categories that
focus on the history, landscape, people, civic and cultural events, built environment, and development of Southern California
and the Southwest from approximately 1845-1930. Of particular interest are the various Indian tribes depicted as well as all
twenty-one of the California Missions.
Charles Chester Pierce was born on November 22, 1861 in Springfield, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Pierce migrated
to Southern California in 1886. Pierce began his photographic career in the thriving boom town of Los Angeles, first in partnership
with Albert H. Lohn, and then successively with J.B. Blanchard and A.E. McConnell. He established his own studio around 1900
at 313 Spring Street. He moved several times during his career, eventually expanding his business to include the sale of
photographic supplies. The most outstanding aspect of his business, however, was the vast picture library he amassed over
three decades at work. Aside from making his own photographs, Pierce acquired the negatives and prints of other regional
photographers such as Emil Ellis, Parker and Knight, Ramsey, Herve Friend, L.M. Clendenon, George P. Thresher, George Wharton
James, and F.M. Huddleston. Pierce eradicated the existing signatures from the photographs, stamped his own name on the images,
and organized the lot into subject files. The consequence of Pierce’s business practices assured that most, if not all, of
the connections between the images and their original creator are now lost. However, the archive which he advertised as the
"C.C. Pierce Collection of Rare, Historical and Curious Photographs, Illustrating California, the Pacific Coast and the Southwest,"
became an invaluable resource for researchers and boosters alike, all of whom came to Pierce’s shop to locate an image for
All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Photographs. Permission
for publication is given on behalf of the Huntington as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or
imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.