Digital Collection: Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map Collection

Last November, the Digital Library Program published three new digital collections to commemorate the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. Check out the Los Angeles Aqueduct 100 blogpost and the digital collections to learn more about the history of water in Los Angeles.

The William H. Hannon Library received generous funding from the Metabolic Studio to accomplish the digitization of these collections. Since not all the funds were expended for digitizing the above mentioned collections, this same wonderful foundation agreed to have another collection digitized with the leftover funds. Hence we selected the Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map Collection for digitization, and digitized 82 maps.

Check out the Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map digital collection now!

Map of Los Angeles Aqueduct, Southern Pacific Railroad, and dry lakes, March 1911     Map showing lots in the Fort Hill Tract proposed to be sold by the City of Los Angeles, August 1885

The Hurley/Wright Surveyors Map Collection is perhaps one of LMU’s most unknown hidden treasures with some maps being hand drawn and dating back to 19th century Los Angeles. This collection has high research and historical value as the holdings contain maps recording ownership of californio ranchos from 1858 on and their subsequent divisions and development; old downtown Los Angeles (see the example below); and creations of counties in Southern California. Of particular interest for the history of water in Los Angeles, maps directly and indirectly address the infrastructure of water.

The entire collection contains over 1700 plat maps, and other maps and documents, such as water tables. The chronological span of the maps is 1855-1969, with the bulk of the datable holdings running from 1885 to 1921. Correlative to this broad chronology is the broad geographical scope of the maps, which concern property in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, and San Diego counties.

The maps are drawn on linen, white or light brown drawing paper, blue paper, or a heavy brown drawing paper, often crumbling, which suggests that it is highly acidic. Maps can be as large as 3 feet by 5 feet or even greater; other representative sizes range from 17.75 inches by 13 inches to 20 inches by 22 inches.

Check out the research guide for the collection for more information!

For research consultations about and access to the primary source material please contact the Department of Archives and Special Collections at 310.338.5710 or