The Automobile Club of Southern California Collection provides documentation on the region's transportation history, especially Los Angeles from 1892 to 1963, from the Auto Club's Corporate Archives. The Collection includes: a selection of 98 historic strip maps, illustrating the development of major Southern California routes; 498 photographs from the general photograph collection, depicting buildings, businesses, streets, and points of interest; and 650 photographs from engineering notebooks along with searchable transcriptions of the engineers' notes documenting the conditions of streets, highways, bridges, railroads, etc.
The Automobile Club of Southern California was founded in 1900 and its archive provides a distinctive picture of life in the region during the 20th century. The documents and pictorial materials relate not only to the Club's history but also to local and regional architecture, infrastructure, public policy, and cultural and recreational history.
Since 1909 the Auto Club has produced a monthly magazine focused on automotive tourism. The archived issues of Touring Topics and its successor, Westways, provide a chronicle of landscapes and destinations including extensive coverage of the deserts and coastal regions of California, the national parks of the American West, and Hawaii.
The club began to participate in deliberations about transportation policy in 1909. Its activities have included independent provision of planning studies as well as commentary on public policies, programs and proposals. In 1922 the Auto Club produced the first comprehensive traffic survey of Los Angeles, and in 1937 its engineers wrote the first detailed proposal for a region-wide freeway system. The working files for these projects provide a rich source of materials on the region.
A substantial portion of the holdings document the workings of the organization itself, from the executive staff to the daily operations in dozens of district offices.
The full corporate archive includes the following, portions of which are digitized for the Collection:
MAPS: The Auto Club began the charting and mapping of Southern California's roads in 1906. The archives contain original vellum renderings of strip maps and road maps, as well as the printed maps produced from these renderings, for the period 1906 to the present. These maps offer a continuous, definitive record of the development of roadways and roadside services in the region. Strip maps illustrate major routes between destinations. Some strip maps include a list of approved hotels, restaurants and garages that had satisfied the Auto Club's standards for facilities and service. Those selected for the Digital Archive depict locations within Southern California. When available, successive editions of strip maps for the same route have been digitized to facilitate comparisons over time. Coverage of the digitized material is from 1912 - 1936.
PHOTOGRAPHS in the Auto Club's general photograph collection depict buildings, businesses, streets, vistas and other points of interest in the region between 1892 and 1962.
ENGINEERING NOTEBOOKS, compiled by the Auto Club's engineers, document transportation conditions between 1922 and 1957. They include photographs, accompanied by the engineers' descriptions, of street conditions, bridges, railway crossings, buildings, intersections and other transportation related issues.