Rolland J. Curtis was the Field Deputy to Councilman Billy G. Mills and Tom Bradley, two of the group of three African-American men first to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council during the 1960s. Curtis’ position as part of the councilmen’s staff, in addition to his prolific photography, created the Photo Archive that I am currently in the process of arranging and describing at the Los Angeles Public Library Central Branch Photo Collection Department.
The Rolland J. Curtis Photo Archive is comprised of 20,000 photographs that document African-American life in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 70s. While a majority of the photographs were taken over the course of Curtis’ execution of his duties as Field Deputy, there are also a great deal of photographs of life outside the walls of City Hall.
My job as the archivist for this collection is to recreate the original groupings of the photographs. Along the way, I am numbering and describing the photographs and rehousing them in acid-free envelopes. This blog is devoted to documenting the process, while showcasing notable photographs and discoveries along the way.
The Photo Archive:
The photo archive is housed at the Los Angeles Public Library Central Branch’s Photo Collection Department. Only a handful of the photos have been digitized. The collection is in the process of being digitized and will be made available to the public once the project is completed. The handful of photos already digitized are available for viewing on the LAPL Photo Collection website only. None of these photos are physically accessible to the public. Any undigitized photos are not physically accessible to the public and will only be made available on the LAPL Photo Collection website once the project is completed. All of the photos on this site and in the archive were donated to the LAPL Photo Collection by Rolland J. Curtis’ widow, Gloria Curtis, in 1998.