Noah’s Flood in an ARkStorm on the San Gabriel River/Rio Hondo in Whittier Narrows

by Paul R. Spitzzeri This summer marks the 250th anniversary of the Portolá Expedition, the first European land-based travel through California, and, as some posts here last month noted, the fifty-plus members of that group came over la abra ("an opening" or La Habra in a corruption of that phrase) in the Puente Hills and descended into... Continue Reading →

Medium Rare: An Astrological Reading from “Madam Endor,” Los Angeles, 15 February 1920

by Paul R. Spitzzeri In the first three decades of the 20th century, booming Los Angeles was home to a wide array of religious and spiritual practitioners, with a great many outside the so-called mainstream.  This included clairvoyants, psychics, mediums and others working on the fringes of the spiritual realm. Tonight's highlighted artifact from the... Continue Reading →

“In High Glee”: A Stock Certificate for the San Gabriel Mining Company, 1888

by Paul R. Spitzzeri In March 1842, nearly six years before James Marshall stumbled upon the precious metal while building a mill for John Sutter on the American River in the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Sacramento, Francisco López made California's first major gold discovery in Placerita Canyon at the western edge of the San... Continue Reading →

Blackface in Los Angeles: A Photograph of Vaudeville Performer Estelle X. Wills, 1920s

by Paul R. Spitzzeri The scandals that have erupted in recent days in Virginia as governor Ralph Northam, attorney general Mark Herring, both Democrats, and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, a Republican, have all been identified as involved as participants in or with direct connections to the wearing of blackface when the three politicians were... Continue Reading →

Through the Viewfinder: Photos of the National Soldiers’ Home, Sawtelle, Los Angeles, 1910s

by Paul R. Spitzzeri It was known officially as the Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Veteran Soldiers, with sites across the country, and it opened in 1888 on land donated by John Wolfskill, orange grower and son of early American settler William Wolfskill; former United States Senator from Nevada, John P. Jones,... Continue Reading →

Whitewashing in American Households with “Fun-to-Wash” and “California Citrus” Washing Powders, 1910-1930

by Paul R. Spitzzeri As we commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. on this national holiday, there is much to think about, whether it is those areas of progress made and those that are lagging in race relations or looking back on the history of race relations in our country in terms of overt and cover... Continue Reading →

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