San Luis Obispo County Regional Photograph Collection, MS 168
Scope and Content Note
Spanning over one hundred years of San Luis Obispo County history, the San Luis Obispo Regional Photographs collection contains photographs, negatives, artwork, prints, and postcards of San Luis Obispo County. The collection documents the transition of San Luis Obispo and nearby towns from their early origins to the present, with emphasis on the significant development of the county in the first half of the twentieth century.
The collection's scope ranges from the development of downtown San Luis Obispo to the towns and cities that comprise San Luis Obispo County: Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton, and San Miguel to the North and Cambria, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Avila, and Pismo along the coast. Although the collection dates span from 1850 to 1980, some of the earlier photographs are reproductions of originals, which is noted when known. The collection is focused on San Luis Obispo County but the last subseries includes photographs of California and Arizona places, which were included in an extensive collection of snapshots taken in the early 1920s.
The San Luis Obispo County Regional Photographs Collection is divided into 6 series:
- San Luis Obispo, City, c. 1870-1980, including street and building views, views of downtown, and of businesses and people;
- San Luis Obispo County, c. 1880-1970, including the cities of Paso Robles, Atascadero, Templeton, Morro Bay, and outlying ranches;
- Hearst Ranch, San Simeon, 1920s, 1970s, including photographs of construction of the Ranch and of outdoor art;
- Art, 1850-1930s, including prints and amateur artwork;
- Postcards, 1900-1950, including local tourist attractions;
- West Coast Regional Photographs, including photographs from northern and southern California tourist locations, especially the California Missions.
The collection is housed in seven boxes. The most significant portions of the collection—photographs of early San Luis Obispo—are located in Series 1. The artwork includes lithographs, watercolors, a pencil sketch, and page-long excerpts from books. When known the contemporary address of a business or residence is noted, as are photographers. Most dates were gathered from contemporary resources and records.
The collection includes several donations and purchases. In order to simplify access to the collection for researchers, materials in specific formats and topics were reorganized and refoldered to more accurately reflect their contents.