Friday, July 24, 2015

Pasadena Museum of History Archives

The first page of a huge book of maps called the Sanborn Maps.

I'm researching to write a book, and one of the characters is an archivist. So I went over to the archives at the Pasadena Museum of History. I thought it would be a fun way to learn how archiving is done. I decided to research my home and street to get an idea.

I knew where to find some of the materials I wanted. There's plenty right there in the reading room that you can look at. It'll take me ages to get through it all—delightful, nerdy ages. You can also tell an archivist what you're looking for and they'll help you find more great resources. You can research anything about Pasadena history.

This is the City Directory from, I believe, 1939. The C.F. Lamb Funeral Home offered definite pluses, especially the "Lady Attendant." I assume that the building, at the corner of Orange Grove and Los Robles, has always been a funeral home. It was the Avalon Funeral Home when I moved to Pasadena in 2005. Recently, the Avalon business has vacated the premises and the building is for sale. Next time you drive by, look up. There's a lovely weathervane.

Put some cash in the donation box and this book can get a special protective cover.


For a break, I found a shady spot on the grounds of the Museum. You could do worse.

And yes, I had fun.

The Archives are open Thursday through Sunday from 1-4 pm. No appointment is necessary. Enter the parking lot on Walnut just east of Orange Grove, take the elevator to the lower level of the museum building (not the Fenyes Mansion), and you're there.

(Oh and just by the way, by the by, off hand, as an afterthought, as it were: the Museum Store has 3 copies of Act As If and one of Camelot & Vine. When you buy the books there a portion of the money goes to the Museum.)

What would you like to research?

15 comments:

llandudnopictures said...

I love the fonts, especially the first image. I assume that's actually a poster, or some form of advertising/marketing piece?

Petrea Burchard said...

I should probably give that one a caption, Geoff. It's the first pace of a huge book (almost a meter square) of maps of city streets and buildings called the Sanborn Maps. Isn't it great? They used every font and swirl and flourish imaginable. I'll caption it, thanks to your question.

William Kendall said...

Archivists do wonderful work, and I find are underappreciated for their skills.

BettyS said...

I love this place. I've done research there on my house, and on Washington Park. The Sanborn Maps are also available electronically, via the Pasadena Public Library. But that's no fun! I'm looking forward to your new book!

altadenahiker said...

Perfect place to spend the dog days of summer.

Petrea Burchard said...

William, I promise I appreciate archivists enough to make up for those who don't.

Thank you, Betty. I might look at the maps online but the beauty of the books themselves can't be duplicated.

Yeah, any place of research is comfy for me, Hiker. Books, info, and air conditioning.

Bellis said...

I've spent a few very pleasant Sunday afternoons down there researching my house and the neighborhood. The Sanborn maps are invaluable. They were done for fire insurance purposes, I think. The staff and volunteers are very helpful and it's amazing who you meet down there. My only regret is that they weren't open all week. It was hard to wait for the next opening days.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

The top image fascinates me. Partly because Vic's dad was an illustrator and passed down all the graphic devises it took to be able to create like this. So over the top.

Petrea Burchard said...

It is indeed a pleasant room, Bellis. I like that it's not silent, and people can talk to each other. It's part of the fun.

PA, I agree, it's over the top. I love it, though. I think they used every typeface in the book, and all kinds of swirlies.

LOLfromPasa said...

Oh goodie - a new book! Pasadena has so much to offer.

Petrea Burchard said...

Old books and new, we are loaded!

Shell Sherree said...

I confess, I usually skirt around researching of the thorough kind if I can. But I can well imagine you'd have thoroughly enjoyed yourself, dear Petrea. I'll look forward to reading the fruits of your researcherative labours as your new story reveals themin due course. Yay for a new Petrea book in progress !!

Petrea Burchard said...

To each her own, Shell. I've found happiness as a bookish nerd. Your art is the fruit of your imagination and talent, and what a joy that is for those who see it.

Ms M said...

Researching a project can be a lot of fun! And glad to learn you're working on another book.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you! I probably shouldn't mention it because the process takes so long. But it is very pleasant work.