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USC Library partners with Digital Public Library of America

Students walk past an entrance to the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles on April 11, 2012 in California. Two Chinese graduate students from the university were killed early April 11 in an overnight shooting which could have been a failed carjacking in an area southwest of downtown Los Angeles, according to police. Los Angeles has a large Chinese and Chinese-American population, including many students, and certain areas of the city are known for frequent gun violence. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Students walk past an entrance to the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.

The University of Southern California Libraries is sharing a quarter million historical items with the Digital Public Library of America, a national Internet archive based in Boston.  It launched in April to provide greater access to libraries around the country. 

According to USC Spokesman Hugh McHarg, one of the library’s strengths is their regional history collection. By providing a look into Los Angeles’ history, the library aims to show a side of the city people may have never seen before.

“People think that Los Angeles is all about movie stars and freeways and these collections actually give a much deeper and richer and more diverse perspective on the story of Los Angeles,” said McHarg.

The university’s contribution includes thousands of unique images, texts and other sources that explore the history of Los Angeles. The collection also includes pre-World War Two census cards that provide a look at economic and sociological data of LA residents before the war.

“There’s a lot of what you expect: pictures of freeway construction and Dodgers stadium, but there’s also a lot more unique stuff that people don’t think of when they think of Los Angeles,” said McHarg.

Images from the Dick Whittington Photography Studios captured the development of agricultural and manufacturing industries in Los Angeles throughout the 20th century. Pictures of ostrich and alligator farms can be found in the assortment.

"USC Libraries have such rich and deep collections, and they are at the forefront of digitizing and preserving an incredible range of materials," said Dan Cohen, DPLA executive director. "It is wonderful to welcome USC Libraries as a content hub and to add their unique subject strengths to ours."

The items added from the USC digital library collection will more than quadruple the amount of material available through the DPLA relating to the history of Los Angeles and Southern California. They are now available on the DPLA website.