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Willa Mae West papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: 7112

Scope and Contents

A collection of photographs and ephemera spanning nearly 50 years of the life of Willa Mae West, an active participant and leader in many African American social organizations in the Los Angeles area. Most of the photographs in the collection date from the 1920s to the 1940s. The photographs include studio portraits, presumably of Willa Mae and her family, photo booth shots and posed snapshots of West's neighborhood and friends' homes. There are group shots with friends at Knott's Berry Farm and several World War II-era images showing men in uniform. One of the albums is devoted exclusively to Masonic and fraternal order events from the 1950s and 1960s and includes 16 large photos of Willa Mae and others majestically dressed in their regalia as members, for instance, of the Prince Hall Masons Los Angeles Consistory, the Order of the Eastern Star and Sadie Alexander Chapter.

Aside from the photographs, the collection contains approximately 30 news clippings (mostly from The Los Angeles Sentinel) which recount events of little known African American social organizations in which Willa participated, if not led. West was president of the Jollyette Girls Social Club, the Cinderella Social Club, the La Campaneros Social Club of the Elks, and the Art Craft and Fez Club of her local Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOEW) chapter. Other clippings describe happenings of the Golodrina Social and Charity Club (also spelled as "Golindrinas") and the Crusaders--an adjunct of the Outdoor Life and Health Association. West's collection also includes event programs, correspondence, award certificates, and more. Highlights from the collection's ephemera include a 1950 invitation to one of Willa Mae's parties, a Special Guest ribbon for the 1971 cornerstone laying of Los Angeles' Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital, and delegate and attendee ribbons for the California State Association of Colored Women's Clubs. There's also a certificate from one of the fraternal orders that was given to West for "Exemplifying The True Status of a Woman" as well as a handwritten draft of a speech she gave in 1976.



This note was adapted from the seller's description of the material.

Dates

  • 1920 - 1980

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Extent

0.44 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

A collection of photographs and ephemera spanning nearly 50 years of the life of Willa Mae West, an active participant and leader in many African American social organizations in the Los Angeles area. West served as a national officer for the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World (IBPOEW), acting as Grand Directress of the Arts and Crafts Department. West also served as a Chaplain Major for her local chapter of IBPOEW, as a member of the Crenshaw Committee on Aging, and volunteered in various capacities for the City of Hope. Most of the photographs in the collection date from the 1920s to the 1940s and include studio portraits--presumably of Willa Mae and her family, photo booth shots, group shots with friends at Knott's Berry Farm, and several World War II-era images featuring men in uniform. One of the albums is devoted exclusively to Masonic and fraternal order events from the 1950s and 1960s and includes 16 large photographs of Willa Mae and others dressed in their regalia as members, for instance, of the Prince Hall Masons Los Angeles Consistory and the Order of the Eastern Star. Aside from the photographs, the collection contains news clippings recounting events of African American social organizations in which Willa participated, event programs, correspondence, award certificates, and more.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Langdon Manor Books, LLC, February 25, 2021.

Physical Description

Three photograph albums, the largest measuring 11.25" x 9.25". Together the albums contain approximately 150 photographs and 70 items of ephemera. Most photographs are black and white and measure from 2.25" x 3.5" to 3.5" x 5" with 17 measuring 8" x 10". Some photographs are captioned with names and/or dates and around a quarter of them are loose.

Title
Finding aid for the Willa Mae West papers
Status
Completed
Author
Bo Doub
Date
2021 March
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States