Written by on November 15, 2018

Recently Digitized: Howard Louis’s Scrapbook, 1927–1933

This post was written by Isabel Brady (ECON, ’20), a student assistant in Special Collections and Archives. 

This quarter, Special Collections and Archives digitized Howard Louis’ scrapbook from the Louis Family Papers. Howard, known to his friends and family as Toby, was the youngest son of Ah Louis. The scrapbook chronicles the young adult life of Howard through photographs of his time as an athlete at San Luis High School to his days as a student at UC Berkeley. The photographs depict a life full with friends, family, and the occasional appearance from one of the many family dogs. Most of the photographs fall between the years 1927 and 1933.

A screenshot of how the scrapbook appears in the Special Collections and Archives Online Collections. Howard Louis is seated on the tree stump in the middle photo on the right.

San Luis Obispo High School football team, 1927. Louis Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly. 167-6-c-11-01-01_013.

The first pages of photographs show Howard as an accomplished athlete participating in both track and field and football for San Luis High in 1927 and 1928. Photographs show the races and games that he participated in against local rivals, Paso Robles and Santa Maria. On a trip to Yosemite in 1929, Howard and his companions captured beautiful pictures of Half Dome, Mirror Lake and Glacier point. Photographs of other trips to beaches and other sights in the San Luis Obispo area and around California are in the scrapbook pages. Even a trip to the University of Chicago is included.

Brothers Howard and Fred Louis with friends at the beach, 1931. Louis Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly. 167-6-c-11-01-01_098

Photographs of the Yoke Choy Club playing football in Golden Gate Park and out on various activities show the club’s prominence in Howard’s young life. During Howard’s time at the UC Berkeley, many photos are portraits of his college friends around campus. International House, Bowles Hall, the Faculty Glade and the Campanile are all fixtures in the photographs. Nearly 90 years later, these places look almost identical as they did in 1930. Contrarily, photographs of San Luis Obispo from 1933 show a very different downtown than today. Chorro Street and Palm Street are nearly unrecognizable.

The Yoke Choy Club in Marin County at the Muir Woods and in Sausalito, 1927-1931. Louis Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly. 167-6-c-11-01-01_116

Photos of some frequent faces from the scrapbook. Howard Louis at UC Berkeley on the left. The center photo is Howard and two children in Antioch, CA. Photo on the right: Elsie and Helen Louis, Howard’s niece and sister, respectively. Louis Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly. 167-6-c-11-01-01_053

Rare views of the Louis Store at 800 Palm Street and the family home at 863 Chorro Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, circa 1932. Louis Family Papers, Special Collections and Archives, Cal Poly. 167-6-c-11-01-01_108

In digitizing this scrapbook, I got a look inside the life of a young person in the 1920s and 1930s. Surprisingly, it is not all that different from mine. Growing up in Berkeley, my friends and I frequented many of the same places as Howard Louis. We’d climb up the Campanile to take pictures, eat lunch on the Faculty Glade and the few days a year it was warm enough, we’d make the trip to Stinson Beach to soak up the sun. Now, living in San Luis Obispo, hiking the mountains surrounding SLO, going to Pismo Beach and walking around downtown SLO are things I do regularly. It’s fascinating to see how 90 years later not all that much has changed.

See the entire scrapbook here.

See more materials digitized from the Louis Family Papers here.

Learn more about Special Collections and Archives at http://lib.calpoly.edu/search-and-find/collections-and-archives/.

Read more on Louis Family Papers, San Luis Obispo History, and special collections and archives.

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