The Autry Files

April 17, 2020

Aloha Friday: Truman’s Tropical Duds

Aloha Friday / Collections

By: Kristen Stalling, Museum Curator, Harry S Truman NHS/Independence Multi-Park Facility

This past Sunday, April 12, marked the 75 th anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s death and swearing in of Harry S Truman as 33 rd President of the United States. In the year that followed, President Truman secured victory in World War II, began reconstruction efforts and sought peace around the world. By the end of 1946, Truman badly needed a vacation. His personal physician suggested he get to a warm, secluded location to rest and rejuvenate. The Naval Station in Key West fit the bill and... Read more

April 16, 2020

L.A. Poets in Place: Neighborhoods

L.A. Poets in Place

“What makes a good poem of place?” asked Nikolai Garcia , Assistant Editor of Dryland Literary Journal. Is it tied to personal identity? Does it change if your writing about a place familiar or unknown?

“Poetry makes the old new and makes the new familiar” said Jenise Miller quoting Kevin Young, Poetry Editor of the New Yorker .

L.A. Poets in Place kicked off Friday, April 10 with over 100 people in attendance. The theme was neighborhoods and... Read more

April 14, 2020

Plants in the Archives?

By Cheryl Miller, Head, Library Metadata and Discovery Services; Liza Posas, Head, Research Services and Archives; Christina Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant

While a museum Library and Archives might seem like the last place to find native California plants and trees, there actually is a virtual garden in the stacks. First, there is the manuscript collection of Frank A. Schilling, a member of the Conservation Association of Los Angeles County, founded in 1924 after a summer of devastating mountain wildfires. Schilling gave a series of lectures at the... Read more

April 14, 2020

Is This a Western? (Episode 3) One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Is this a Western?
This week Josh responds to a high school teacher who asks if Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a Western. Read more
April 13, 2020

Contemporary Viewpoints in a History Gallery: Photographs by Pep Williams in the special installation Behind Bars

Behind Bars / Exhibitions

In 2017 photographer Pep Williams gained the opportunity to photograph inmates in Chuckawalla Valley State Prison and Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California. Several of his resulting photos offer a “contemporary viewpoint” alongside older artifacts in the Autry’s history galleries, in the special installation Behind Bars: Incarceration in the American West . In his prison photographs , Williams portrays... Read more

April 10, 2020

Aloha Friday: Aloha Anniversary

Aloha Friday / Exhibitions

By: Carolyn Brucken, Chief Curator, and Libby Short, Autry Member

When the Dress Codes teams issued a call for aloha shirts for the exhibition, we found a goldmine in the shirts collected over the years by Libby Short and Michael Friedman, longtime supporters and friends of the Autry Museum. In sitting down with Libby, I learned how aloha shirts are simultaneously loved as works of textile art and an expression of love over time. For this Aloha Friday blog, I invited Libby to share the story behind what has become one of my favorite shirts in the show... Read more

April 10, 2020

Happy Birthday Jane Withers

Collections / Revealing Women in the Archives

By: Caroline Sheehan, 2018-2019 Autry/Occidental College intern; Liza Posas, Head, Research Services and Archives

Jane Withers, actor, philanthropist, and doll collector, turns 94 this Sunday. A testament to the range of her life’s achievements can be found everywhere: in newspaper and magazine articles, film reel footage, and in archive collections like those held at the Autry.

Jane Withers was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 12, 1926. Her mother, Ruth, dreamt of having a child star, and gave her the name Jane so it would fit on a marquee. Her parents wasted no time in... Read more

April 6, 2020

Is this a Western? (Episode 2) Challenge: Frankenstein

Is this a Western?
Challenge: Frankenstein

The Autry’s media specialist, Anton Lieberman , suggested Frankenstein . Here’s how Josh responded: Read more

April 6, 2020

Sweet Land: The Show Must Go On

Native Communities / Programs

By: Brittany Campbell, Public Engagement Manager and Ben Fitzsimmons, Associate Director of Programs and Research

Artistic endeavors are essential today more than ever and the Autry actively works to include the many voices of the creative communities of the American West through partnerships and public programming initiatives. We were excited to hear that The Industry, an artist-driven company creating experimental productions that expand the definition of opera, was developing an opera exploring the myths of American identity and the erasure of certain stories. Sweet Land was co-... Read more

April 3, 2020

The “Cowgirl of the Typewriter” Defied Stereotypes and Took the Reins


On August 29, 1948 Houston Chronicle Magazine ran an article that claimed it “could completely unnerve the boys who go in for the manly entertainment of the shoot’em-ups…that some of Hollywood’s wildest Westerns are screen written by a blue-eyed, blond-haired beauty from Houston who answers to the name of Frances Kavanaugh.” The story ran alongside photographs of Kavanaugh at her typewriter and working out scripts with directors, producers, and actors. It aptly showed off her curled hair and impeccable lipstick. The writing, as well as the images, grappled with the stereotypes of... Read more