Man's one-box donation a bounty of history

DOWNTOWN — An effort to collect residents' photos, documents and other historical items got off to a surprising start Saturday, when organizers were presented with a “treasure trove” of material, some of which dated back to the 1890s, they said. Bill Maier, a fourth-generation Glendale-resident, brought the extensive collection of items to the Glendale Public Library's History Drive. The drive is an ongoing effort to gather artifacts from residents so that they can be scanned and saved as part of a historical record of the city's appearance, atmosphere, culture and diversity, senior library supervisor Pat Zeider said.

Maier came to the event with a box full of newspaper clippings and pictures that represented his family's history in Glendale, including a striking photo of the first Maier family home, which appeared to sit alone amid a vast expanse of land that is now crowded with residences.

“Isn't that amazing?” said Maier, pointing to the black-and-white picture of a wood-paneled home, where his great grandfather stood next to a horse and buggy. “That's across from Wilson Junior High [now called Wilson Middle School]. It's incredible. There's a freeway there right now.”

The photo from the 1890s caught visitors by surprise and added to the excitement surrounding the library's effort to create a historical record of the city based on residents' submissions.

Just six residents submitted items at Saturday's event, which drew more than 30 visitors, but officials are hoping people of all backgrounds and walks of life contribute to the collection, no matter how old or new their materials are, Zeider said.

“I was pleased that people were interested and that we had as good a turnout as we did,” she said. “And I think it was a great start for building up our special collections.”

Mayor John Drayman spearheaded the push for a history drive, an idea that has taken root in other cities as well.

The act of using technology to assemble a historical collection from resident submissions will be fruitful, Drayman said.

“Preserving it creates the common thread for our residents in this city,” Drayman said, “right now and in the future.”

Maier's submission was so large that officials asked him to return with his aunt, who has lived in Glendale for 89 years, so that she could be interviewed as she explains each item that will be entered into the library's collection.

“This is just one box,” said Maier, a self-described history buff who has collected records for his family for years. “I've got more boxes at home, too.”

The library is accepting submissions on an ongoing basis, although residents must make an appointment by calling (818) 548-2030.

Organizers and members of the Glendale Historical Society will be conducting interviews about each item submitted, so that they can be cataloged with appropriate details, Zeider said.

Elaine Wilkerson, a board member of the society who was conducting interviews, hoped that more residents would be inspired to share their items with the community, even if they are photographs of recent family events or birthday parties that could give future library visitors insights into the lifestyle and culture of Glendale today.

Many families have albums and newspaper clippings they might not think are worthy, but that organizers might find valuable, Wilkerson said.

“The saddest part is people have so much stuff and they don't know what to do with it and it gets lost,” she said.

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