Historic Negatives Collections

PMH maintains the area’s largest and most complete photographic archives of Pasadena and its environs, numbering an estimated one million photographic images. Staff, interns, and volunteers work tirelessly to catalog, digitize, and share the Museum’s collections, which contain well over 1,000,000 historic photographs, rare books, manuscripts, maps, architectural records, and more.  Our historic negatives collections contain irreplaceable early views of Pasadena life and industry, which are all one-of-a-kind. Two of these collections are the most in need of preservation: the collections of J. Allen Hawkins and Helen Lukens Gaut.  Learn about how we are preserving these collections with the Great History Freeze.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at Friendship Baptist Church, Pasadena, February 28, 1960 (JAH19072)

J. Allen Hawkins Collection

J. Allen Hawkins was the most prolific and important mid-century photographer in Pasadena. From the time he opened his first studio at the age of 18 in 1932, Hawkins photographed all aspects of local life: from innovative aerospace companies to diners in local restaurants. He was also the official photographer for the Tournament of Roses from 1935 to 1970.

PMH is the proud owner of the bulk of J. Allen Hawkins lifework, an estimated 300,000 prints and negatives. The Huntington maintains a smaller collection of about 3,500 images. In recent years, this immense nationally significant collection, documenting mid-century life, has become more popular and valuable to researchers, and is one of the highlights of our photographic archives.

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Theodore Lukens on San Jacinto Peak, 1905 (HLG-123)

Helen Lukens Gaut Collection

Helen Lukens Gaut established a successful career as a photojournalist in the 1920s, merging her love for nature, passion for motoring, and engaging writing style into pieces for numerous magazines such as Out West, Overland Monthly, Cosmopolitan, The Craftsman, Ladies’ Home Journal, and House Beautiful. Some years ago, a chance meeting of a connoisseur of photography and a well-respected historian resulted in this major gift to PMH. In 2002, Richard (Blue) Trimarchi, President of Art Works Fine Art Publishing, shared a collection of negatives taken by Helen Lukens Gaut with former Museum Trustee Dr. Robert Winter. Dr. Winter was excited by the importance of the images taken by a woman photographer in the second decade of the twentieth century. The collection was purchased with a generous donation to the Museum by Alyce de Roulet Williamson.

By Laura Verlaque