Saturday, July 13, 2013

L.A. UNIFIED’S HISTORICAL COLLECTION: from Mesopotamian artifacts to report cards

Jed Kim | Pass / Fail | 89.3 KPCC

Grace Sutherland report card (1896-1897)


A report card from 1896 is just one of more than 30,000 items archived within LA Unified's Art and Artifact Collection.

July 11th, 2013, 6:00am  ::  If you've ever wanted to check whether your great-great-grandmother really was a straight-A student, you may be in luck.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has a public archive of more than 30,000 historical items that date back to 1855, when the district's first school opened. And it includes some report cards.

The Art and Artifact Collection contains a wide variety of items gathered throughout L.A. Unified's history: paintings, sculptures, photographs, antique furniture and even ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Mesopotamian artifacts.

The collection also includes old academic records, including a report card from 1896-1897. It's for then-fifth grader Grace Sutherland, whose best subject seems to have been Geography.

It also gives a peek into evolving academic philosophy. One of the stranger subjects is "Sloyd," which apparently is an educational system based on woodworking. You can read more about it in an old Woodwork Magazine article.

The collection is housed in offices at 1330 W. Pico Blvd., but it's only viewable on Fridays and by appointment.

L.A. Unified tweeted a photo of Sutherland's report card yesterday and an official said more artifact photos are on the way.

"The tweeted report card is just a tease of what we have," said district spokeswoman Monica Carazo.

About The Art & Artifact Collection

from the A&A Collection website |

Office Information

The Art and Artifact Collection Office is open on Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm by appointment. Please note that AAC exhibits and collections are available year-round.

The phone number is 213-742-8351. The email address is

The AAC Office is located at 1330 W. Pico Blvd., Room 288, Los Angeles, CA 90015.

AAC Curator Leslie Fischer, Installing Exhibit

About Us

Since its founding a century and a half ago, the Los Angeles school system has accumulated many valuable and important artworks, artifacts, records and historical items, some as property of the District, others as gifts and donations. In recognition of their value and significance, the District Office of Secondary Instruction made initial efforts in the late 1980’s to consolidate and inventory its holdings. In 2000 and 2001 the District’s Visual and Performing Arts Branch (now called the Arts Education Branch) received grants from the Getty Foundation and State of California Department of Education to further catalogue the artwork, create the beginnings of a collections management database, and determine the scope and mission of the AAC. In 2001, the District hired a part-time Curator to design and manage the Art and Artifact Collection/Archives Resource Center which is a free, accessible community asset.

Welcome AAC Intern Ana Azcarate

Ana Azcarate joined the Art and Artifact Collection team in February 2010. She graduated from CSUDH in June 2010 with a degree in art history. She has been an LAUSD employee for 16 years. Currently, she is a Health Care Assistant assigned to a one to one student in an Autistic classroom. She is working on her teaching credential and hopes to teach Special Education. Ana has been working on several indexing projects at the AAC as well as creating archival quality storage supports and re-housing our delicate Roman glass collection.

LAUSD High School Internships and Service Learning

The AAC is proud to announce a new partnership with the Los Angeles School of Global Studies through which the AAC staff hosted a high school intern, Rolando Echeverria for the Spring semester 2010. As part of the LASGS internship program, Rolando received career exploration and preparation guidance and worked under the supervision of the AAC Curator. He earned school credit for his participation in this service learning opportunity which allowed him to gain practical training, knowledge and develop problem-solving, responsibility, and interpersonal skills -- tools that we all need in our rapidly changing and competitive professional world. 

What does the Art and Artifact Collection do?

The Mission of the Art and Artifact Collection/Archives is to:

  • Engage and educate the Los Angeles community, including students, families, faculty, staff and alumni as well as independent historians, curators, librarians, archivists and interested parties, about the history of the LAUSD and its role within the greater community
  • Preserve and protect the cultural heritage of LAUSD
  • Encourage the school community to become involved in the dynamic process of contributing to the Collection in ways that reflect current environments and cultures

What's in the Art and Artifact Collection?

The AAC contains more than 30,000 historical artifacts and visual resources and dates back to the opening of the District's first school in 1855. It consists of:

  • Paintings, murals, sculptures, prints and decorative arts
  • Photographs, negatives, slides and proof sheets taken by various LAUSD branches that capture school activities, architecture and Los Angeles history from the 1910s to 1980s
  • 16 mm Films made by LAUSD branches to document programs as well as instructional films
  • Rare book collections such as the Carnegie, Dawson and Californiana Collections
  • Ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan and Mesopotamian antiquities including vases, coins, tools, cuneiform tablets and jewelry
  • Antique schoolhouse furniture, memorabilia and instructional equipment
  • LAUSD administrative and instructional publications and records

Behind the scenes at the Art and Artifact Collection

No comments: