We have just begun to create catalog records for the nitrate negative images in the Adelbert Bartlett collection. There is a tremendous variety of subject matter in this commercial photographer’s collection, from the early development of the real estate and tourism industries to local Los Angeles area activities to promotion for a prestigious private school in Turkey. For example, Bartlett photographed the Rancho Malibu la Costa housing development while it was under construction. The development, located between Carbon Canyon and Las Flores Canyon, was the first subdivision on Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit land. The rancho owner had recently lost the financially ruinous legal battle to keep California Highway 1 (PCH) off of the Rancho land and needed to generate income.
Bartlett photographed the Hotel Playa Ensenada, a luxurious Baja California vacation destination offering a casino and alcoholic beverages during prohibition.
The collection also documents local activities such as the 1927 Rose Parade
and junior high school students at work.
A photograph of Robert College in Istanbul (the part that is now the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi campus), founded by two Americans, includes a view of the towers of the Rumeli Hisari (15th century fortress) in the background.
Two other related images provide insight into Bartlett’s work process. To create a color version of the image, Bartlett wrote instructions for the colorist and sketched the colors onto a print of the image.
The addition of descriptive metadata (i.e. information about the photographs) for these nitrate images will enable historians and other users to more fully evaluate the scope of Bartlett’s activity locally and abroad.
By Martha Steele, Nitrates Metadata Coordinator