New database of Los Angeles officials since 1850

Los Angeles City Council in 1933

The City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles City Historical Society have worked together to finish an online database — finally! — of past and current elected officials. Want to know when exactly Ernani Bernardi or Gilbert Lindsay served on the City Council? Well, now the answer is online. The first mayor of Los Angeles, the site tells us, was Benjamin Davis Wilson and he took office May 7, 1851. It's all searchable and fairly flexible.

Um, yeah, it took awhile to get this project completed. Considering that it began in the Great Depression. The site's editors explain:

The Los Angeles history project was initiated by the Works Project Administration in the 1930’s during the Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It sought to identify and record the terms of office of individuals who, over the years, served in the government of the City of Los Angeles. It includes all elected officials who held the offices of Mayor, City Attorney, City Controller and members of the City Council; and all appointed commissioners who served on the various municipal boards. The City Clerk at the time, Robert Dominguez, secured the assistance of librarians from the City’s Library Department and directed them to use the Common and City Council Minute Books to develop the project.

Work on the project was interrupted briefly in 1939 when Mayor Fletcher Bowron (1938- 1953) came to its rescue and assigned it to the staff of the Municipal Reference Library, a division of the Library Department. At that time there was no City Archives. Data compiled by the project for the years 1850-1965 was published in four volumes including an index, but work on the project was inexplicably halted.

Hynda L. Rudd, the City’s Records Management Officer and first Archivist, now retired, was approached by the late noted historian Dr. Doyce B. Nunis, Jr who urged her to revive the project and update it through the year 2010. With the support of the Los Angeles City Historical Society, Ms. Rudd obtained a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation to support the work, which included consolidating the data in the published four books with the updated information in this computer-based program. Future updates will be the responsibility of the Records Management Division of the City Clerk.

Photo: Los Angeles Public Library/Security Pacific Bank Collection

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