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A Guide to the Research Library and Archives

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

View images from the collections of PMH, the Pasadena Public Library, and Pasadena City College, Shatford Library

WHAT IS AN ARCHIVES?

USING THE RESEARCH LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES

REPRODUCTION SERVICES

HOLDINGS

 

 

 

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Pasadena Museum of History (known as the Pasadena Historical Society until 1994, and the Pasadena Historical Museum until 2002) was founded in 1924, just 50 years after the first members of the Indiana Colony settled along the banks of the Arroyo Seco. The original mission of the Society, which remains essentially unchanged today, was to collect, preserve, and exhibit materials that documented the founding and early history of the city. This was an ambitious, forward-looking mission statement in 1924, when the collections filled just one filing cabinet owned by one of the Society’s founding members!

The Society got its first real home in 1932 in a room specifically designed for it as part of the new Civic Auditorium. By 1958, it had outgrown that space, so the collection was moved to the Pasadena Public Library, where it was staffed by its own volunteers. In 1970, the Paloheimo family donated the Fenyes estate to the Society. The Archives first occupied the basement level of the Mansion and later moved to the Curtin House, where it remained for the next 20 years. During the 1980s the Society, recognizing how valuable the collection and its research potential had become, hired its first professional archivist.

In 1993, the first phase of the History Center building was completed, allowing for the transfer of the Archives into environmentally-controlled quarters for the first time. The collections were reorganized, and access became much easier. The collections continue to expand through donations, finding tools are constantly being developed and updated, and use of the Archives by researchers from near and far continues.

 

 

WHAT IS AN ARCHIVES?

 

Perhaps the best way to understand an archives is to compare it to an institution most of us are familiar with--the public library. Whereas the library is traditionally based on the book and the printed page, an archives is a “collection of collections” (a collection is an “archive”; the place where it is kept is an “archives”). Typical of most archives, the Pasadena Museum of History’s collections contain not just books and periodicals, but photographs, manuscripts, maps, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and ephemera of all kinds.

Although materials are usually housed together by format, they are also found combined in “special collections,” or groups of materials donated to the Museum by an individual or organization and kept together permanently under the donor’s name. It is an established archival practice to attempt to preserve the original arrangement or filing system because it often reveals something of interest about the creators and the time in which they lived.

Because of the variety of materials included in such collections, the only way to bring them together and to alert the researcher to their existence is through indexing. At this point, most of our indexes have been manually compiled, but we are progressing toward consolidating and automating access to the numerous lists and files which are currently the only keys to the contents of the collections.

Since it is broken up into separate collections, the Archives does not lend itself to browsing. The fragility and rarity of some of the material requires that casual use be discouraged. Researchers must do as much preliminary work as possible using the finding tools available in the reading room; only when they have located likely resources are they allowed to handle the original materials.

 

USING THE RESEARCH LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES

The Archives staff and volunteers only are permitted to retrieve research materials from storage. Use of the materials is restricted by rules intended to protect and preserve them in good condition for the future (seeResearch Library and Archives Regulations”).

While a library user may be accustomed to finding a specific answer to a specific question quickly, the archives user must be prepared to spend a lot of time “digging” for answers. Although staff and volunteers do provide direction and advice, researchers are encouraged to spend some time looking for what they need on their own.

Hours: 1:00 to 4:00 pm Thursdays through Sundays. Closed major holidays.

No appointment necessary.

 

RESEARCH SERVICES

Staff and volunteers in the Research Library are happy to conduct basic research free of charge for researchers who cannot visit the Archives in person.  Please email your questions to research@pasadenahistory.org, being as specific as possible.  Research requests are handled in the order received.  There can be a delay of several weeks before a request is completed. 

There are charges for photocopying, scanning and mailing the results of our research (see Reproduction Services). 

 

REPRODUCTION SERVICES

Reproduction services are available for a fee (photocopies or scans). All reproductions must be first approved by a staff member—fragile or oversized material may not be able to be copied.  Personal digital cameras (no flash!) may be allowed for certain materials with approval by a staff member. 

Photocopy charges

$.20 + tax (8½ x 11)

$.30 + tax (11x14)

$.40 + tax (11x17)

Reproduction Use Fees

Reproduction of any material owned by Pasadena Museum of History is subject to a Reproduction Use Fee (Museum Members may receive a 10% discount).

 

For Profit

Non-profit

Personal

Reference/Décor

$50

$25

$15

Publication

$50

$20

$15

Film/Broadcast/Online

$100

$20

$15

Advertising/Exhibition

$150-$500*

$20

$15

*Prices vary depending on use; please inquire.

View our Reproduction Use Form.

 

Copyright

The Museum’s physical ownership of the materials in its collections does not imply ownership of copyright.  It is the user’s responsibility to resolve any copyright issues related to the use and distribution of reproduced materials. 

     


 
 
470 West Walnut Street ~ Pasadena, CA 91103 ~ Ph 626.577.1660 ~ Fax 626.577.1662 ~ info@pasadenahistory.org