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C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs: Finding Aid
photCL Pierce  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Related Material
  • Index Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs
    Dates (inclusive): approximately 1840-1930
    Bulk dates: 1880-1920
    Collection Number: photCL Pierce
    Creator: Pierce, C. C. (Charles C.), 1861-1946
    Extent: 10,100 photographs in 63 boxes (51.19 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: rarebooks@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: 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 (1861-1946), 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.
    Language: English.

    Access

    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please visit the Huntington's website: www.huntington.org.  

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    C.C. Pierce Collection of Photographs. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Purchased by the Friends of the Huntington Library in 1939.

    Processing Information

    The collection was numbered and catalog cards were created by Huntington staff sometime after its purchase. In the mid-1990s, Huntington staff housed and boxed the collection. In 2001, the original finding aid was created based on the original numbering scheme.

    Biographical Note

    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 their purposes.
    C.C. Pierce died on November 7, 1946, at the age of 84. His prints and negatives are dispersed at several Los Angeles-area repositories including the Title Insurance and Trust Company (or Ticor) at the USC Regional History Center; the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History; and UCLA Special Collections. In addition, UCLA acquired the account books of C.C. Pierce's business dealings from 1909 to 1921 (Call # 170/134). The eight volume manuscript ledgers provide a detailed listing of his clients and the nature of the business.

    Scope and Contents

    The C.C. Pierce collection contains 10,100 historical photographs of early California and Los Angeles that were 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 assigned by Pierce: Los Angeles Historical; Indians; Missions; California cities, counties, etc.; Industries and Agriculture, Transportation; Natural History; Art and Architecture; 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. Pierce described the latter as "a very extensive and superior collection of this subject, covering a period of over sixty years" that includes copies of paintings and etchings made by Edward Vischer from 1842-1876 and Henry Chapman Ford (1883).
    Pierce's practice of copying other photographer's images and supplying his own identification should alert the researcher to treat the descriptive and date information on the photographs with some skepticism.
    There are two numbers on the back of each photograph: the regular penciled number is the negative number assigned by Pierce; the red penciled number is that assigned by the Huntington. Researchers should refer to the red number at all times when ordering reproductions.

    Arrangement

    The original order of the collection has been maintained and all subject headings are those assigned by Pierce himself.
    Cards for individual items are filed in subject and geographical sections of the Photo Catalog.

    Related Material

    See also: C.C. Pierce Negative Collection (photCL 464)   for photographs related to the Charles C. Pierce family and business, including one photograph of the interior of Pierce's last studio at 1572 W. Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles (photCL 464 (1)).
    For more information about C.C. Pierce and his business see:
    "C.C. Pierce, Photographer," UCLA Librarian (volume 17, no. 10, March 26, 1964), 71-72.
    Kurutz, Gary F."'Courtesy of Title Insurance and Trust Company'- The Historical Collection at CHS' Los Angeles History Center," California History (Summer 1978), 186-194.
    Smith-Baranzini, Marlene, "The CHS Southern California Historical Collection: New Location and New Opportunities for Historic Research," California History (Winter 1991/1992), 397-398.

    Index Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Persons:

    Ford, Henry Chapman, 1828-1894.
    Vischer, Edward

    Places:

    Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--19th century--Photographs.
    Los Angeles (Calif.)--History--20th century--Photographs.
    California--History--Photographs.

    Subjects:

    Indians of North America--Photographs.
    Cities and towns--California--Photographs.
    Agriculture--California--Photographs.
    Industries--California--Photographs.
    Vehicles--California--Photographs.
    Plants--California--Photographs.
    Animals--California--Photographs.
    Adobe houses--California--Photographs.
    Landscape--United States--Photographs.
    Cityscapes--California--Photographs.
    Missions--California--Photographs.

    Document Types:

    Photographs.