The word “archives” conjures images of dusty shelving holding yellowing papers. But what about an archive of Duke Kahanamoku’s surfboards? Or Disney memorabilia? Or an original rivet from the Golden Gate Bridge given to Huell Howser? Orange County is home to archives containing these and other treasures that aren’t just historically significant but entertaining, too. We explored six of these repositories and talked to the folks who oversee them. Here’s what we found.
Anaheim Heritage Center
241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 714-765-6453, Anaheim-Heritage-Center
About the Site
Shares an entrance and lobby with Muzeo, the hip museum and cultural arts center
It’s big—nearly a million items. The focus is on the history of Anaheim, Orange County’s oldest city (predating the county’s formation). The city archives are here. So, too, are family papers of the “Colony Founders”—the Germans who moved south from San Francisco and planted vineyards. Along with records galore, old newspapers (O.C.’s first newspaper, the Anaheim Gazette, dates to 1870), maps, a huge collection of yearbooks from Anaheim’s schools, historic photos, and materials on baseball’s Angels, hockey’s Ducks, and football’s Rams from when they played in Anaheim, the center houses one of two public archives for the Walt Disney Company; Disneyland, after all, is two miles away.
What You Should Know
This is part of the Anaheim Public Library system, but it isn’t a typical browsing library. Come in knowing what you want to research so the staff can help you find it. Park for free in the nearby structure. If you get a chance, peek inside Muzeo, which offers traveling exhibits and has a regional history exhibition in the adjacent refurbished 1908 Carnegie Library.
Heritage Services Manager Jane Newell (pictured at top) is eager to share her wealth of information about Anaheim and the collection. During our tour, she dug out some Disney memorabilia, a vintage property assessment book—its listings perfectly detailed in gorgeous copperplate calligraphy—and a large figurine of a dog, directly above, probably made of papier-mâché. The dog had been used in a window display at the city’s still-talked-about S.Q.R. department store, built in 1925 and demolished in the 1970s. Someone found it at a yard sale and donated it.