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About this collection

The Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research Collection is currently comprised of the Charlotta Bass / California Eagle Photograph subcollection and Emma Lazarus Jewish Women’s Clubs of Los Angeles Records, 1945-1980 subcollection.

Charlotta Bass / California Eagle Photograph Collection

The Charlotta Bass / California Eagle Photograph subcollection is comprised of almost 500 photographs that were among the personal papers and artifacts of Charlotta Bass, publisher of the California Eagle from 1912-1951. The photos can be divided into 6 general categories:

  1. Photographs illustrating Bass' career as the Eagle's publisher and editor, her political activities, including her candidacies for U.S. Congress and Vice President on the Progressive Party ticket, and her trip to Prague and the Soviet Union;
  2. Personal photographs of Bass with family, colleagues and friends, and photos of Bass' relatives, friends and acquaintances;
  3. Photographs of reporters and other employees of the California Eagle;
  4. Photographs published in the California Eagle that illustrate various aspects of political and social life in Los Angeles' African-American community;
  5. Other photographs of African-Americans;
  6. Photographs published in the California Eagle of various news events, including labor union activities, the activities of the Civil Rights Congress, and citizens protesting the Communist "witch hunts" of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Charlotta A. Bass (1879-1969) had a multi-faceted career as a business person, journalist, activist and political candidate. Born in Sumter, South Carolina, she lived in Providence, Rhode Island before moving to Los Angeles in 1910. That year Bass began selling subscriptions to The Eagle. Two years later she became the owner/publisher/editor of the renamed California Eagle. For forty years Bass used the paper as a vehicle for advancing a range of social causes and community activism ranging from voter registration, housing and employment discrimination, police brutality and human rights. In April 1951 Bass published her last issue of The California Eagle and sold the paper soon afterward. Bass ran for Los Angeles City council in 1945, U.S. Congress in 1950 and was the Progressive Party's U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate in 1952. Bass retired to Lake Elsinore. Three years after suffering a severe stroke she died in 1969.

In 1879 John J. Neimore founded the oldest African American owned newspaper in Los Angeles. Originally called "The Owl", he later he renamed it "The Eagle." When the paper was taken over by Charlotta A. Bass in 1912 it was renamed finally to "The California Eagle." The newspaper served as a source of both information and inspiration for the black community, which was either ignored or negatively portrayed by the predominant white press. As publisher, Bass was committed to producing a quality periodical. In her weekly column, "On the Sidewalk," begun in 1927, she drew attention to unjust social and political conditions for all Los Angeles minority communities and campaigned vigorously for reform. Bass' husband, who she had hired in 1913 and married shortly thereafter, served as the paper's editor until his death in 1934. Bass ran the paper by herself until 1951 when she sold it. The paper ceased publication in 1965.

Emma Lazarus Jewish Women's Clubs of Los Angeles Records

The Emma Lazarus Jewish Women’s Clubs of Los Angeles Records, 1945-1980 subcollection is comprised of records from the Emma Lazarus Jewish Clubs of Los Angeles (ELJWCLA), active from 1951 to 1980. The majority of the subcollection consists of correspondence, minutes of meetings, and records of cultural programs. The ELJWCLA also assembled a large number of newspaper clippings and pamphlets relating to the interests of the organization, which included: anti-Semitism, desegregation, civil rights and voting rights, deportation of the foreign born (Walter-McCarran Act), peace and nuclear disarmament, Jewish culture and children’s education, international brotherhood (particularly with the Soviet Union), the arts in general, and the status of women (particularly working women).

The ELJWCLA was part of the national Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs, which grew out of the Emma Lazarus Division of the Jewish People’s Fraternal Order, itself an outgrowth of the United Council of Working Class Housewives (later the Progressive Women’s Council). The Los Angeles clubs coordinated many of their activities with the national Federation, however, much of their work focused locally. In the mid-fifties the ELJWCLA were particularly concerned with civil rights and partnered with African-American organizations in Los Angeles. The clubs sponsored plays on the history of the Jewish people in the United States, concerts by Jewish and African-American performers, election and legislative initiatives on the local, state, and national level, senior citizen centers, and International Women’s Day celebrations. The records of the ELJWCLA end in 1980, with the activities of the organization ceasing during this decade. The national Federation dissolved in 1989.

Materials from the Emma Lazarus Jewish Women's Clubs of Los Angeles Records subcollection are part of the L.A. as Subject Community Histories Digitization Project. Thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USC Libraries are digitizing this collection for public access.

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