The Autry Files

February 22, 2021

Theo Westenberger: A Brief Introduction

Collections / Library and Archives / Revealing Women in the Archives
By Caleb Allen, Cataloging Assistant

Commercial photographers are an odd sort of cultural worker: responsible for showcasing the products that one ought to want, glimpses of vacations one ought to strive for, providing a keyhole into the lives of the celebrities one loves, and generally helping to visualize a zeitgeist. It’s rare that one ever bothers to learn who a commercial photographer is—for every Annie Leibovitz or Steven Meisel, there are innumerable other photographers who are more or less unknown to the wider public. Now, it would be unfair to count Theo Westenberger among the... Read more

January 6, 2021

Citrus Crate Labels as a 2021 Calendar

Collections / Library and Archives
By Victoria Bernal, Women in the Archives Social Media Manager

With 2020 thankfully behind us, this light-hearted 2021 calendar features the attractive citrus crate labels in the Autry’s archive. Citrus crate labels didn’t just sell oranges and lemons in wooden packing crates. These lithographs sold health, leisure, wealth, sunshine and an Eden that was California. Labels were carefully crafted by artists to create eye-catching images that differentiated produce that essentially all looked the same. In describing these designs in his book... Read more

December 16, 2020

World AIDS Day and the Art of Mooshka

LGBTQ+ Communities

By Eugene Wyrick, Associate Design Director

Each year, we commemorate World AIDS Day on December 1. I want to reflect on what this day means to me in 2020—through my personal experience coming of age (and coming out) during the 80s and 90s, through my work on one of the Autry’s latest exhibitions, and finally, against the backdrop of COVID-19.

For much of the pandemic shutdown, I have had the good fortune to work on the timely and prescient exhibition (currently on view at the Autry online, and hopefully, in person soon),... Read more

December 11, 2020

Let Them Eat Books: Chocolate Spice Cookies from The Arizona Cook Book

Collections / DIY / Library and Archives / Revealing Women in the Archives
By Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant

Williams needed a public library, and the women of the Williams Public Library Association were determined to provide one. Though a small town with a population of about 2,500 in the early 1900s , Williams was not insignificant, hosting the terminal of the Grand Canyon Railway and serving as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Despite this, the town had not the means to construct and maintain a public library .... Read more

November 20, 2020

Women’s Stories Found in the Native Voices Archives

Collections / Library and Archives / Revealing Women in the Archives
By Victoria Bernal, Women in the Archives Social Media Manager

The rich archive of the Native Voices theatre company reflects 26 years of Native storytelling in which women’s stories always played a prominent role. As the only Equity theater company in America devoted exclusively to developing and producing new theatre works by Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations playwrights, Native Voices was... Read more

October 29, 2020

Excavating Stories of Women Archaeologists in the Archive

Collections / Revealing Women in the Archives

By Victoria Bernal, Women in the Archives Social Media Manager

* Thank you to archaeologist Karimah Richardson and archivist Liza Posas for their insights on the importance of the women archaeologists’ archives at The Autry.

In commemorating October as both Archives Month and Archaeology Month, we dug into the archives of several women archaeologists in the Autry’s collections. Archaeologists Frances Watkins, Ruth Simpson, and Bertha Parker Cody each played a role in the archeological efforts of the Southwest Museum, the first museum in Los Angeles to promote both... Read more

October 13, 2020

CCHI: Electoral Politics in the West

Collection Initiative / Collections / Community
By Tyree Boyd-Pates, Associate Curator of Western History

This April, the Autry launched our Collecting Community History Initiative (CCHI) to respond to the growing desire to collect the diverse stories and objects about the American West during this epidemic. Since then, we have launched two iterations, The West During COVID-19 and... Read more

October 12, 2020

The Alcatraz Logbook: Signs of Red Power

Community / Native Communities
By Joe D. Horse Capture, Vice President of Native Collections and Ahmanson Curator

It's one of the most significant artifacts of the Red Power era.

Kent Blansett Founder and Executive Director American Indian Digital History Project

Occupation of Alcatraz

On November 20, 1969, a group of Native Americans landed and occupied Alcatraz Island for 19 months. The initial group of over eighty occupiers referred to themselves as “Indians of All Tribes” reflecting the diversity of Native Americans in the Bay Area during this time period. The... Read more

September 28, 2020

Griffith Park Yarnscape 9: How to Crochet a Merry-go-round Horse

DIY / Exhibitions

Have you had enough passive screen-time and want to make something with your hands, maybe learning a new skill in the process? Join us in contributing to a gallery display of Griffith Park in crochet, with the help of these how-to videos.  

As part of our exhibition Investigating Griffith Park we’re inviting the Autry community to make pieces to represent various aspects of the park, from nature to recreational activities, and mail them into the Autry (or drop them off in person once the... Read more

September 28, 2020

Cooking Up the New West: A Brief History of Soul Food in Los Angeles

African American Communities / Collections / Community
By   Kyrie Blackman, Getty Marrow Intern

Love soul food? Even though the American South is a couple of thousand miles away, Los Angeles, California, is home to many African American soul food eateries steeped in a history of migration worth celebration. During the mid-1960s, the term “soul food” was adopted because of the popularity of the word “soul” to describe African American culture. Steeped in a history of enslavement in the American South and lack of access to quality ingredients, African American cooks had to make do with what they had available with ingredients post-emancipation,... Read more