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.
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.
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.