About this Collection
The Miriam Matthews Photograph collection consists of 4,600 black and white photographs of varying sizes, negatives, captions and descriptions from museum exhibitions, and a slide carousel. The collection reflects Matthews' dedication to the preservation of African American history in Los Angeles. The chronology of the scenes and people depicted in this collection spans from the Spanish founding of the city in the late 18th century to the 1980s, with the bulk of the collection from the twentieth century. Key points of interest from the Spanish and Mexican eras include the founding Los Angeles pobladores of African descent, African American stagecoach drivers and overland guides to California, and the multiracial californio family of Pio Pico. Other points of interest after U.S. annexation in 1848 include the influx of middle class African Americans to Los Angeles between 1890 and 1915, as well as the churches, social, charitable, and fraternal organizations they formed during this period and through the 1980s. Matthews' collection also highlights those individuals who contributed to civil rights legislation and advocacy, those who were elected or appointed to government positions, popular entertainers, artists, and black-owned businesses. There is also substantial collection of photographs produced by black photographer Harry H. Adams, documenting life, politics, community service, and civil rights movement in Los Angeles in the 1960s.