Skid Row History Archive

Over 35 years of performances, projects, exhibitions, and history collecting by the Los Angeles Poverty Department are available for scholarly and causal research in the archive on the mezzanine level of the Skid Row History Museum and Archive.

Our archive is a testament to the importance of place-keeping in a community that has been under threat of displacement for decades and continues to affirm its existence through arts, activism and organizing. The archive is available to visitors by appointment.

Archival Projects Manager
Clancey Cornell  310-980-2411  clancey@lapovertydept.org
Media Archivist
Henry Apodaca  henry@lapovertydept.org
Archivist bios click HERE

FINDING AIDS – Coming Soon
We are developing finding aids for our collections. These aids will soon be available in PDF format here for your review. Access of specific physical and digital material is limited to the museum.

VISIT US
We welcome all community members, researchers, students, and visitors! If you would like to visit the archive to learn more, or make an appointment to view specific collections, contact clancey@lapovertydept.org

GET INVOLVED
If you are interested in volunteering in the archive, or starting an internship with us, please reach out to clancey@lapovertydept.org

Events and Programs
We are preparing to hold collection days where we will provide an opportunity for community residents and local organizations to contribute materials to the archive. More soon!

Walk The Talk website / archive

The website provides on-line access to the 60-plus people whose real-world accomplishments —-from 1970 until today, have been celebrated in Walk the Talk from 2012-2020.  The website, created by artist / technologist Rob Ochshorn, includes: hour-long video interviews and transcripts of the interviews, for each honoree as well as videos and scripts of the scenes distilled from the interviews and performed by Los Angeles Poverty Department in each Walk the Talk performance / parade.

Rob Ochshorn has designed software that offers the viewer unique, surprise means of navigating the content— including the ability of the transcript to follow the honorees speech in the video and the ability to search the entire archive (over 70 hours of interview material):  just type in whatever you want: “affordable housing”, “community mental health”, “broken windows policing”, “compassion”, “recovery”, — -and responses from everyone who spoke to that, appear.

ARCHIVISTS

Archival Projects Manager
Clancey Cornell  310-980-2411  clancey@lapovertydept.org

Media Archivist
Henry Apodaca  henry@lapovertydept.org

Archivist bios click HERE

FINDING AIDS – Coming Soon
We are developing finding aids for our collections. These aids will soon be available in PDF format here for your review. Access of specific physical and digital material is limited to the museum.

GET INVOLVED
If you are interested in volunteering in the archive, or starting an internship with us, please reach out to clancey@lapovertydept.org

VISIT US
We welcome all community members, researchers, students, and visitors! If you would like to visit the archive to learn more, or make an appointment to view specific collections, contact clancey@lapovertydept.org.

Events and Programs
We are preparing to hold collection days where we will provide an opportunity for community residents and local organizations to contribute materials to the archive. More soon!

About the Archive

LAPD’s projects focus on a constellation of inter-related issues of continuing importance to Skid Row including: gentrification and community displacement, drug recovery, the war on drugs and drug policy reform, the status of women and children in Skid Row, mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty. Materials from each project of the past 35 years include: research, rehearsal notes and videos, and scripts and videos of and performances. Thematic panel discussions for many projects and subsequent responses from the press– provide not only a comprehensive history of the first arts organization in Skid Row, but also a glimpse into the parallel history of the changing dynamics of Skid Row across time.

In addition to the history of LAPD projects from 1985-present day, the archive contains thousands of documents, photographs, and audiovisual material related to the history of neighborhood dating back to the late 1800’s.  LAPD has taken a unique approach in collecting materials that map the grass roots community building and activist history of Skid Row across time. We hope the archive and its contents can serve as a means of mining the neighborhood’s activist history and amplifying effective community resistance strategies that will be helpful to other communities facing similar pressures.

Over the past two years as the archive has developed with the support of staff and interns, we have been able to accept additional collections from allied local organizations like the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and personal collections from individuals like Alice Callaghan and Mollie Lowery.  As we move forward in our efforts we hope to support more deposits by community residents and other organizations in Skid Row.

ARCHIVE HIGHLIGHTS

Walk The Talk Archive

The Walk The Talk Archive comprises about 70 long form interviews of Skid Row visionaries who have made significant contributions to the neighborhood from the early 70s to today. Transcripts, portraits, and videos of performances based on these individuals interviews are available for viewing. We also have a digital platform that can be used to connect these interviews to other relevant materials in the archive, or explore our materials based on theme of interest.

36 portraits of Walk the Talk honorees by Mr. Brainwash, 2012

Walk the Talk honorees Charles Porter and Zelenne Cardenas honored in Gladys park. Portraits by Brian Dick, 2014

Chronicling years of Skid Row Activism

In addition to materials that span the history of the Los Angeles Poverty Department’s projects, John Malpede and others have collected extensive material related to Skid Row and homelessness in general. The collections uniquely highlight waves of local advocacy and activism in the community that can serve as models for communities facing similar pressures of gentrification and displacement.

The Catholic Agitator is a newspaper published by Catholic Worker community members and volunteers multiple times each year.

Mapping the Changing borders of Skid Row

In 1976 “The Blue Book,” was adopted by the city, in part as a strategy that would “contain” poor people in one corner of downtown. Significantly, it had the reverse effect of also preventing upscale development within Skid Row. Complete digital and physical copies of Blue Book and The Silver Book (the plan that the Blue Book responded to) are available for viewing in the archive, as well as an archive of one of the first ever exhibitions in our Skid Row History Museum on this subject.
The archive also has other significant documents from the CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) that created programs and entities to implement the plan, including the founding of SRO Housing, Inc and the Skid Row Development Corporation. Until it was disbanded in 2012, the CRA played a significant role in Skid Row and the entire downtown. The archive includes a number of documents the track CRA involvement in the area.

The “Blue Book” and the “Sliver Book”, 1976

LA Poverty Department's Early Photographs

In addition to materials that span the history of the Los Angeles Poverty Department’s projects, John Malpede and others have collected extensive material related to Skid Row and homelessness in general. The collections uniquely highlight waves of local advocacy and activism in the community that can serve as models for communities facing similar pressures of gentrification and displacement.

LAPD Performances

LAPD Inspects America: (City)

LAPD inspects America was a series of performance residencies in cities across the country in which LAPD partnered with arts and social service organizations to create new performances with local people experiencing homelessness. The archive contains videos of all LAPD performances since 1985.

“LAPD Inspects The Twin Cities” performance at the Walker Art Center, 1991

Mollie Lowery Collection

In 1985, Mollie Lowery, along with Frank Rice started Los Angeles Men’s Place (LAMP) as a safe drop-in center on Downtown L.A.’s San Julian Street. LAMP began as an oasis for men—that quickly became open to men and women– that provided the opportunity, but did not require, people frequenting the center to connect with health and mental health services. By 1990 LAMP had developed and implemented new cutting-edge programs including access to health care, a housing program, and substance abuse recovery programs supported by the County. Before Lowery passed away in 2016, she created a collection –collected over decades—of newspaper articles, documents and ephemera related to Skid Row and Homelessness– to be donated to the archive.

Los Angeles Times cartoon, 1986

Archive Funders

Los Angeles Poverty Department’s archive is supported in part by a grant from the Community Archive Program of the Mellon Foundation.