J. D. BLACK PAPERS (CSLA-15):Series Descriptions
COLLECTION TITLE AND NUMBER: J. D. Black Papers, 1876-1999. CSLA-15ACCESSION NUMBER: 1999.24COLLECTION SIZE: 22 archival document boxes, 14 oversize boxes
The J. D. Black Papers have been arranged according to series, the descriptions of which can be consulted by selecting the appropriate series title below. Specific research strengths and types of materials for each series are noted in its particular description. To access the series descriptions, select the following links.
Series 1: Owens Valley Water Controversy Records | Series 2: Publications and Scrapbooks | Series 3: Photographs | Series 4: Protest Correspondence, 1946-1960 | Series 5: Personal Correspondence and Records | Series 6: Personal Notes
The arrangement of each series' content in boxes and folders is described in the box and folder lists, which can be accessed through selecting the appropriate links in the series descriptions.
Series 1: Owens Valley Water Controversy Records back to top
(To view the box and folder list indexing the arrangement of this series' contents in boxes and folders, select the preceding series title.)
Size: 6 archival document boxes, 1 oversize box
This series consists of materials concerning the Owens Valley water controversy in the 1920s, which marked the final stage of the valley residents' most active resistance to the City of Los Angeles. Central in this series are the correspondence, and organizational and administrative records (many of which are copies) of the Big Pine Property Owners Association (BPOA), the Big Pine Reparations Association (BPRA), and the Big Pine Water Association (BPWA). This includes the by-laws and articles of incorporation of the BPRA and the BPWA, and meeting minutes for the BPOA and the BPRA. There is also incoming and outgoing correspondence from the organizations regarding their plans for compensation, including lawsuits initiated by State Senator J. M. Inman and Inyo County District Attorney Jess Hession (see, for example, Box 8, Folder 1). Also to be found are City of Los Angeles proposals for resolving problems and subsequent position statements issued in response by Big Pine organizations (see especially Boxes 8 and 9). Depositions from Big Pine residents, and data sheets and lists regarding population and business losses, and losses of farms and ranches also form an important part of this series. Noteworthy as well are the handwritten estimates from members of the Big Pine Canal Company and Owens River Canal Company on the value of their water rights and farms in late 1923, a time when the City of Los Angeles was actively buying up property and water rights in the Owens Valley (Box 8, Folder 3). Names of note in these organizational and administrative records include W. W. Watterson and Fred Eaton.
J. D. Black's business correspondence with San Francisco and Los Angeles businesses concerned matters in the Owens Valley and provides insight into attitudes of business people regarding the actions of Los Angeles city departments and government in the Owens Valley (cf., for example, Box 8, Folder 4). There are also some materials related to the actions of the City of Los Angeles after the 1920s, eg, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power property sales in Inyo County towns in 1947 (Box 12ov).
For a complete description and index to the arrangement of the contents of this series in boxes and folders, consult the box and folder list.
Series 2: Publications and Scrapbooksback to top
Size: 25 folders, 33 oversize folders, 1 flat file
In this series are found the loose newspapers, clippings of newspaper and magazine articles, governmental publications, and scrapbooks that Black compiled of the Owens Valley water controversy, most of which date from the 1920s and the early 1930s. The scrapbooks were originally catalogs for tailors of men's suits that J. D. Black used to mount newspaper clippings. The newspaper articles in scrapbooks and loose clippings come from newspapers in the Owens Valley and Los Angeles, with some from Nevada and Arizona newspapers. Full editions of local Owens Valley newspapers, from Bishop and Big Pine, also exist. Some of the clippings on the Owens Valley water controversy date from after J. D. Black's death (1960), indicating that his wife Sophie or other Black family members had added them to his collection. Magazine articles on the Owens Valley postdating J. D. Black's death in this collection indicate a provenance similar to the one just mentioned.
Important California state publications on the Owens Valley water controversy include the state engineer's report in 1925 to Governor Friend Richardson. Also in this collection are City of Los Angeles publications, dating from the 1920s and 1930s, related to its involvement in Owens Valley. They are often apologia for the city's actions, eg, the City of Los Angeles, Department of Water and Power's response to claims for reparations: Facts Concerning the Owens Valley Reparations Claim (Box 9, Folder 7).
The loose newspaper clippings in Box 14ov originally accompanied the notes, correspondence, and rough drafts of letters found in Series 4 and 6. There are also a number of publications related to the personal activities of the Black family, eg, telephone directories.
Series 3: Photographsback to top
Series size: 6 archival document boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 oversize folder
This series' holdings consist of personal photographs of the Black family, as well as general interest photographs of life, persons, and places and towns in the Owens Valley. Unless otherwise noted, photographs and post cards are black and white; they are in relatively good condition, except for two photographs of Tonopah, Nevada, which are fragile and must be handled with extreme care (Box 11ov, Folder 5). For a complete description and index to the arrangement of the contents of Series 3 in boxes and folders, consult the box and folder list. This series also contains two subseries, which are described below.
Series 3. Subseries A: Photographic Postcards: Photographic postcards--very popular in the United States ca. 1900--constitute much of the photographic materials in this series; because of their value in the J.D. Black Papers and format, they have been arranged as Subseries A in Series 3. They document important events in the history of the eastern Sierras of California and western Nevada. These include the first crossing of the California state line by the Carson and Colorado Railroad, the railroad that serviced the Owens Valley and the mining towns of western Nevada. Other valuable postcards include those of mining towns such as Bodie, California, and Candelaria, Nevada. Also found in this subseries are photographic postcards related to the Owens Valley water controversy, most notably the seizure of the Alabama Gates by the residents of the Owens Valley in 1924 (Box 16, Folders 1-13); and the photographic postcards reproducing original photographs of Harry W. Mendenhall and Andrew Alexander Forbes documenting the Native Americans of the Owens Valley, chiefly the Paiutes (See Box 16, Folders 16-29). For a complete description and index to the arrangement of the contents of Series 3 in boxes and folders, consult the box and folder list.
Series 3. Subseries B: Abandoned Properties, Owens Valley
Extremely rare, perhaps even unique, are the photographs that J. D. Black took of ranches and farms, and other properties in the Owens Valley abandoned after their acquisition by the City of Los Angeles. J. D. Black labelled many of the photographs with the names of their owners and dated some as well. Because of their value, and because J. D. Black stored them separately, they have been established in the Subseries B: Abandoned Properties, Owens Valley. For a complete description and index to the arrangement of the contents of this series in boxes and folders, consult the box and folder list.
Series 4: Protest Correspondence, 1946-1960back to top
Series size: 14 folders
This series contains correspondence (some incoming, but mostly outgoing), telegrams, night letters, and newspaper clippings regarding the injustices of the Owens Valley water controversy that J. D. Black sent to state and federal officials and bodies. Eccentric in mission and content, these communications date from after World War II to J. D. Black's death in 1960, a period well after the time when the Owens Valley water controversy had been decided in the favor of the City of Los Angeles.
Series 5: Personal Correspondence and Records back to top
Series size: 21 folders, 1 oversize folder
This series is made up of correspondence, receipt books, receipts, newspaper clippings, leases, contracts related to the personal affairs and business interests in the Owens Valley (mining and stores) of J. D. Black and his wife Sophie Black and their daughters.
Subseries A of this series is comprised of correspondence and photographs to J. D. Black from servicemen of World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict. The photographs of Subseries A include pictures of the famous Italian monastery of Monte Cassino after the Allied assault there in 1944. For a complete description and index to the arrangement of the contents of this suseries in boxes and folders, consult the box and folder list.
Series 6: Personal Notes back to top
Series size: 2 archival document boxes
In this series are found the handwritten, loose notes of J. D. Black on the Owens Valley water controversy. Some functioned as rough drafts of the correspondence found in Series 4, and the notes are often hard to decipher. The loose newspaper clippings in Box 14ov of Series 2 originally accompanied the notes found in Series 6.
© 2012 Loyola Marymount University