"Valley Times" Photograph Collection

2017 Preservation Award Recipient

Published from 1946 to 1970, the Valley Times was a daily newspaper that focused on the news and happenings of the San Fernando Valley. The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) received the daily newspaper’s entire photo collection in 1981. 

The photos in this collection document an important time in Los Angeles history, as the San Fernando Valley grew enormously after World War II. Photos of groundbreakings for new construction projects, brand-new Mid-Century Modern buildings, aerial photos showing changes to the overall landscape, and more help tell the story of this period of immense change and offer a glimpse at this period of history.

Beginning in 2013, the LAPL Photo Collection Department worked to process and digitize the extensive Valley Times photo collection of over 82,000 images. Regular LAPL resources were not enough to complete this project, which required the crucial first step of hiring an archivist to process the enormous collection. LAPL partnered with the nonprofit organization Photo Friends to raise additional funding, and in just three years the archivist and LAPL staff processed the entire collection. 

This project came just in time to preserve these important historical photos. Many of the photos were in poor condition and suffering from degradation. For decades, photos had been stored in folders alongside acidic newspaper clippings. Some photos have creases, tears, paperclip burn marks, and discoloration. LAPL staff knew that if these photos were not properly preserved, they could be lost forever.

The critical work of processing, organizing, and rehousing the 82,000 images in an archival-safe manner was complete in summer of 2016. Of these images, 52,000 images were selected as eligible for digitization, and as of late 2016, LAPL had already digitized nearly half of these. 

The newly preserved and digitized photos of the Valley Times collection are an invaluable resource for researchers and historic preservationists. Because many of the photos have precise publication dates, it is possible to know exactly how a building or neighborhood looked at a certain time. Grand opening events captured on film show buildings in their pristine, original condition. Photos of streetscapes depict entire corridors of buildings, some of which may have since been demolished or altered. 

This vast amount of visual information relevant to San Fernando Valley history and postwar growth has never before been accessible to the public. These digital images can assist researchers and preservationists in telling the stories of significant events, people, and places in the San Fernando Valley. This important project earned a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2017 for its huge potential impact on historic preservation in the San Fernando Valley.