Your Library :: History Room

The Storied History of the History Room

 

The History Room was a significant component of the 2003-2004 annex to the La Jolla/Riford Branch Library.  It began as a vision of Patricia Schaelchlin, local historian and architectural preservationist.  During the research of her definitive history, La Jolla: the Story of a Community, 1887-1987, she collected a library of local La Jolla history, as well as books, maps and other materials describing  San Diego, San Diego County, southern California and California to place La Jolla’s history in context.  She donated this collection to the library as well as funds to construct the History Room in its current form. 

In addition to a wealth of books and ephemera, the donation included microfilm copies of the La Jolla Journal and the La Jolla Light for the period 1919-1969, as well as a topical index of the newspapers for those years.  Unfortunately, copies of the Light and Journal for the period prior to 1919 were not available on microfilm and remain unavailable in any form.  Additionally, her donation included a complete run of the La Jolla Blue Book from 1937, as well as photocopies of the La Jolla section of the San Diego City Directory for the years 1926-1936.

Since 2004, much new material has been added to the History Room collection.  The search for additional sources to meet the varied questions of library patrons is ongoing. Materials that could not be cataloged as books are stored alphabetically in three file cabinets.

To assist genealogical research, History Room volunteers have created indexes of obituaries published in the La Jolla Journal and the La Jolla Light for the period 1919-1994.  It is important to note that various newspaper editors/publishers had different policies regarding the publication of obituaries as a community service, a profit making activity or not at all.  As a result of that and/or the lack of anyone to provide the requisite information, an obituary may not have appeared for an individual that died in La Jolla.

Pat Schaelchlin collected a photocopy of the diaries of Anson Mills, an early La Jolla resident.  The copy is available for reference in the History Room.

At the History Room’s inception, the Friends of the La Jolla Library donated a microfilm reader to read the La Jolla Journal and the La Jolla Light microfilms.  The reader includes a printer for making copies of the microfilm.  Copies are made at a cost of 15¢ per page.

Complementing the microfilm copies of the La Jolla Journal and La Jolla Light, the La Jolla/Riford Library also has the only existing copy of the La Jolla Light for the period 1970- 1994.  The format is bound newsprint.  A topical index/finding aid has been created for these years to expedite research and to minimize handling of the fragile newsprint.  Photographic copies can be made and emailed upon request.

Consistent with Patricia Schaelchlin’s interest in architectural preservation, the History Room collection offers information about many early houses built in La Jolla.  This includes date of construction, some photos, and the names of architects where known.  Materials and photos used for the preparation of the 1977 La Jolla- A Historical Inventory are available for study.

The San Diego Public Library subscribes to a library edition of the online genealogical research site Ancestry.com.  Access is limited to use at the Main Library and its branches.  Among many things, this provides onsite viewing of all Federal censuses for La Jolla for the years 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940.  History Room volunteers have indexed each of these through 1920 to aid La Jolla research.  Indexes for 1930 and 1940 are being prepared.  The indexes are important tools because La Jolla does not appear as a specific census district for any census year.  The index guides the user to the relevant enumeration district, page and line for individuals.  Prior to 1920, La Jolla did not have uniform street numbering.  The 1920 index has a separate sorting by street and street address.  Similar street address indexes will be prepared for 1930 and 1940.  This reverse indexing information did not appear in the La Jolla Bluebook until 1948, where it continued until 1984.

The materials in the History Room are all classified as research items and cannot be checked out or removed from the History Room.  Photographic copies can be made and emailed upon request.