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  • Local History

    The Santa Monica Public Library: An Illustrated History

    In November 1890, Santa Monica town trustees accepted a donation of 800 books, forming the foundation for the nascent town library. On December 10, Elfie Mosse was appointed City Librarian. Located at Oregon Ave. (now Santa Monica Blvd.) and Third Street, two rooms in the Bank of Santa Monica building were set aside for the library. For the first 14 years, Elfie Mosse was the only staff, and she would lead the library until 1939.

    Since those humble beginnings, the library has grown to become a system of five locations and over 400,000 volumes in the collections. Santa Monica Public Library offers a wide variety of programs for people of all ages and engages in a lively online presence. Much has changed in 125 years, but the tradition of service remains our cornerstone.

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    Imagine Santa Monica
    The Library’s digital collections include the Image Archives of the Santa Monica Bay area, a collection of photographs and postcards dating from 1875 to the present; historical maps of the Santa Monica area; the years 1875 to 1929 of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook; the Santa Monica Newspaper Index, a selective index to newspaper and magazine articles of local interest dating throughout the Twentieth Century and up to the present.

    Image Archives on Calisphere
    Search the Santa Monica Image Archives and Palisades Historical Image Collection on Calisphere, a service of the University of California Libraries.

    Marcus O. Tucker Collection
    The achievements of Marcus O. Tucker are highlighted with a collection of biographical resources.

    Santa Monica Collection Room
    Special collection containing books and documents on the history of Santa Monica and greater Los Angeles areas.

    Stanton Macdonald-Wright Mural
    The new Main Library is graced by a cycle of murals created by artist Stanton Macdonald-Wright in 1935 for the former Main Library located at 503 Santa Monica Blvd.


    Library History
    The history of the Main Library and the four branches: Ocean Park, Fairview, Montana Avenue and Pico Branch.

    Santa Monica History Museum  
    Located on the Main Library campus at 1350 7th Street, the Museum showcases the unique history and qualities of the City. Since 1975, the Museum has collected and preserved the history, art and culture of the Santa Monica Bay Area.  Many of the Museum's historical photographs can be viewed online.
    FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. They preserve and share the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world. Setting up an account is free. It includes many older Santa Monica City Directories.





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