Bartlett Photographs: Southern CA (and Beyond) in the 1920s and 1930s

March 13th, 2012 § 1 comment

View from Royce Hall towards Powell Library, evoking the image of an Italian Romanesque piazza, UCLA, Los Angeles, 1928

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.

Rancho Malibu la Costa

View towards beach house under construction in the Rancho Malibu la Costa development, Malibu, circa 1927

Aerial coastline view of the Rancho Malibu la Costa development area, Malibu, circa 1927

Bartlett photographed the Hotel Playa Ensenada, a luxurious Baja California vacation destination offering a casino and alcoholic beverages during prohibition.

Hotel Playa Ensenada

Couple seated in front of the Hotel Playa Ensenada, Ensenada, 1931

The collection also documents local activities such as the 1927 Rose Parade

Motorized float shaped like a wedding cake in the Rose Parade, Pasadena, 1927

and junior high school students at work.

Thomas Starr King Junior High School

Two school boys at Thomas Starr King Junior High School demonstrate a science experiment, Los Angeles

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.

Boğaziçi Üniversitesi

View towards the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi campus, Istanbul

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.

Bartlett’s instructions for coloring the photograph of View towards the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi campus, Istanbul

View towards the Boğaziçi Üniversitesi campus, Istanbul, with color sketched in by Bartlett to instruct colorist

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.

Martha Steele, UCLA Library Cataloging & Metadata Center



§ One Response to Bartlett Photographs: Southern CA (and Beyond) in the 1920s and 1930s

  • Alex Rose says:

    This is really exciting. Thanks for what you are doing to preserve these images and sharing them with the world on the internet!

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