Photograph Archives and Other Collections
Consisting today of over 600,000 prints, negatives, glass-plate negatives and slides, the photo collection is one of the stellar components of the museum’s archival holdings. In addition to being the most comprehensive collection in existence of photographs and negatives documenting Santa Monica’s history, most of the images in the collection cannot be found anywhere else. The photos are the most sought a coming in on nearly a daily basis from writers, publishers, the media, students, teachers, scholars and a host of others inside and outside the region.
In the 1990s, the museum’s collection of images was significantly augmented by the accession of major photo collections from within the city of Santa Monica. In 1995, the museum received the photo archives of Outlook newspaper photographer, Bill Beebe, whose collection of over 75,000 images spans the 1930s to the 1960s. This acquisition was followed in 1998 by the accession of the Outlook archives (over 300,000 images covering its 123 years of operation) and by the accession of the personal archives of Bob Smith (over 6,000 negatives, including images of former Presidents Nixon and Kennedy), staff photographer at the Outlook between 1970 and 1997 and the archival collections of the former City Scene newspaper in 1998 (over 6,000 images).
In 1996-1997, the SMHSM was awarded funding in the amount of $75,000 from the city of Santa Monica towards the conservation of its photo collection. More recently, the SMHSM received funding from the Ahmanson Foundation (Los Angeles) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (Washington, D.C.) for photo conservation and digitization.
Usage of Photo Collection by the Museum – Past and Present
- City by the Sea: Life and Landmarks in Santa Monica, 2000 – 2001 traveling exhibition at Santa Monica City Hall, Santa Monica Public Library, lobby of Santa Monica-UCLA Hospital, First Federal Bank, US Bank. Thousands of people viewed the exhibits.
- Santa Monica Pier History book
- City of Santa Monica Arts Festival
- Santa Monica – UCLA Medical Center Orthopedic Hospital groundbreaking event – photo murals on construction site
- Research for media, authors, teachers
- Documentaries (i.e., The Hidden History of Ocean Park by Santa Monica City TV)
- Publications (i.e., Santa Monica: Jewel of Sunset Bay)
- Slide shows for students and adults
- Train Festival, Bergamot Station
- Casa Del Mar gift shop
- Rotary Club 80th Anniversary slide show
- School year books – John Adams Middle School
- Exhibition for Girl Scouts Jamboree (over 150 girl scouts in attendance)
- Traveling exhibit of a quilt with business logos and photos of Santa Monica
- Photo exhibition at Santa Monica Place (celebration of Flag Day)
- Stan Laurel 100th Anniversary of his birth celebration on the Third Street Promenade
- Golden Age of Santa Monica celebration at the Georgian Hotel (school classes from all Santa Monica schools attended the exhibition)
- Photos for SMASH School History EXPO
- Photos and texts for the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Annual Membership directory
- Photos for the former Security Pacific Bank
- California State Fair Centennial
- Santa Monica College orientation video
- Rusty ‘s Surf Ranch – TV Promotional
- Fred Sands Calendars and Website
- Los Angeles County Lifeguards history book
- First Presbyterian Church – 100th Anniversary
- Santa Monica Post Office Anniversary
- A & E television documentaries
- CNN television documentary
- History Channel documentaries
- KCET – Things No Longer Here Anymore
- Surf Santa Monica News
- Beach Volleyball history book
- Pacific Blues television series
- Dr. Joyce Brothers television special
- E True Hollywood Story – television
- Santa Monica local television networks
- Annual Pioneer Community Picnic
- Los Angeles Fire Department 100th Anniversary book
- The Story of James Dean book, published in New York
- Santa Monica Fire Department Centennial Book
- Santa Monica Pier History by Jeff Stanton
Museum Photos in Public Buildings
- Casa Del Mar Gift Shop
- Chamber of Commerce Offices
- Famous Fish Enterprise Restaurant
- Georgian Hotel
- Jonathan Club
- Long’s Drug Store
- Pacific Dining Car Restaurant
- Snug Harbor Restaurant
- Teasers Restaurant
- Tony Roma Restaurant
- Fred Sands Real Estate
- William Burke Spa in Malibu
John P. Jones Collection
A major photographic archive of the co-founder of Santa Monica, the John P. Jones Collection includes many rare landscapes of early Santa Monica. The collection also richly details the extended family life and lively social activities at the Miramar, the mansion built by Mr. Jones overlooking Palisades Park and the Pacific Ocean. Photographs and negatives.
In addition to a selection of early Santa Monica photographs, the Outlook Collection consists of the complete archive of images for Santa Monica’s daily newspaper from 1965 to 1998. Noted for its award-winning photography, the Outlook Newspaper covered all the news in Santa Monica and the Westside, from major issues and events to feature stories, notable people and community social life. Photographs and negatives.
Bill Beebe Collection
Also providing a daily record of the area from the 1930s to the 1960s, the Bill Beebe Collection is composed of negatives by professional photographers for the Pacific Press, a photo service that provided images to the Santa Monica Outlook, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald and Los Angeles Examiner. The photographers included Bill Beebe, Emerson Gaze and Bill Anderson. Negatives.
Fred Basten Collection
The author of over thirty books, and a specialist on early Santa Monica, Fred Basten donated historical photographs that appear in his book, Santa Monica Bay: Paradise by the Sea and many other images pertaining to Santa Monica. Photographs and negatives.
The Museum Collection includes unique and significant photographs and negatives donated by pioneer Santa Monica families during the city’s Centennial in 1975. Continuously augmented by donations, the Museum’s foundational photographic archive also includes the collections of Paula Boelsems/Glenn Sundby and George Tate (Muscle Beach), Bob Smith and Bryan McLellan (Outlook Newspaper), Santa Monica Fire Department, Phila Caldwell (Milbank House) and Virginia Tegner Spurgin (early Santa Monica). Photographs, negatives, glass plates, lantern slides, stereoscopes, postcards.
Public Access to the Photographic Archive
Visitors to the Museum can access on a database over 6,000 digitized images. Other images are accessible through a research request. Please see Research Library for details.
Photo reprints for Sale
Photo reprints are available for sale, for personal or commercial use. Please email at email@example.com or phone Mary Pat Cooney, Operations Manager at 310 395-2290 for details.