Distinctive Collections

Distinctive header text

Bookplate Collection

Bookplates, or ex libris, are labels with a printed design intended to show ownership, usually pasted inside the front cover of a book. They are produced by various means such as woodcut, wood engraving, line engraving, etching, lithography, and modern photographic reproduction. The custom originated in Germany around the 15th century by Albrecht Duhrer. Our collection of 1,530 bookplates contains a wide variety of designs, designers, and subject matter. The collection includes designs of universities and colleges, clubs and organizations, and Gothic designs by H. Alfred Fowler and also includes a small series of publications about bookplates. Most of the publications were published by the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers.

View Bookplate Collection Guide

Distinctive Collections
Annie Bocage Proctor bookplate, designed by Edna Crompton

Jewel Plummer Cobb Collection

Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924-2017), a distinguished African American biologist and academic administrator, is widely credited for her contributions to the scientific community, both through her cancer research and her commitment to equal access to educational and professional opportunities for women and minorities. The collection contains a wide variety of publications, pamphlets, newsletters, research reports, program proposals, newspaper and magazine clippings, conference materials and a series of academic articles from 1964-1995. The collection also includes Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb’s personal notes and speech transcripts.

View Plummer Collection Guide

Comic Book Collection

Perceived to be a staple of literature entertainment, comic books introduced readers to superheroes and fictional stories. One of the most iconic characters to emerge from the comic book era was Tarzan, “King of the Apes.” The story of a man who grew up to be the lord of the jungle, Tarzan swung through vines, battled fearsome creatures, and defeated powerful villains. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 20th century, Tarzan captivated readers and became a comic book icon enjoying popularity for many decades. The rights were picked up and published by many companies over the years including DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Dell. The bulk of this collection features 1970s DC Tarzan comics, but also includes other comic books from 1961-1996 such as an issue of Batman, Mammy Yokum, Dennis the Menace, and Hurray for Andy Capp!

View Comic Book Collection Guide

Comic Book
Detailed look at a Tarzan comic

Charles Hubbell Aviation Print Collection

Charles Hubbell (1898 -1971) was an American commercial aviation artist who began a career as a commercial artist for companies such as Woodroot Hair Tonic, Lucky Tiger, and Campbell Soups. He is best remembered for his aviation artwork in annual calendars from 1941-1969 commissioned by Cleveland-based aircraft and automotive company, Thompson Products Inc. The production of the calendars in the collection are from 1944-1959 and depict a history of aviation through a series of relevant themes/styles of airplanes.

View Hubbell Aviation Print Collection Guide

Munitz Chess Collection

The Munitz Chess Collection, donated to Cal State LA University by Dr. Barry Munitz in 2006, is comprised of over 400 volumes of rare chess books and serials. The collection also includes over 50 chess sets which exhibit a wide variety of artistic styles, materials, and designs, each offering a unique complement to the art of the game. Dr. Barry Munitz served as chancellor of the California State University system from 1991 to 1999 and is currently a Trustee Professor at California State University, Los Angeles.

View Munitz Collection Guide

Munitz Chess 1
Russian chess book on display
Munitz Chess 2
Chess set from Munitz collection on display

Northwest Coast Art Collection

During her time as a librarian and archivist at Cal State LA University Library from 1962-1983, Mary Gormly taught about Northwest Coast and Native American art. She history received her B.A. in Anthropology in 1947 from the University of Washington and went on to receive an M.A. from Mexico City College in 1948. Additionally, she received an MLS degree from the University of Washington in 1959. Gormly’s interests centered on the arts and ethnography of Native American populations. She retired in 2004, however, she left her legacy at Cal State LA with her Northwest Coast Art collection, a fellowship for Native American studies students in her honor, and an exhibit of the collection in 2007.

View Northwest Coast Art Collection Guide

Peace and Freedom Party Collection

The Peace and Freedom Party was founded on June 23, 1967, during the 1960’s civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements. By 1968 the group gained national recognition and dedicated their efforts towards achieving their platforms of a socialist, democratic, feminist, and racially equal society. They organized mass groups and rallies to protest and support political candidates to reform US political institutions. They formed tenant unions for renters and organized food co-ops, free health clinics and newsletters for the public and their followers. Additionally, they organized two successful statewide initiative campaigns: one in 1968, lowering the voting age to 18, and another in 1972 to repeal the capital gains tax loophole. They also helped numerous political candidates run for offices such as Robert F. Kennedy and Eldridge Cleaver of the Black Panthers. The materials in this collection were created from 1933-1980 and the majority of the collection is comprised of writings and publications related to various political and social issues.

View Peace and Freedom Collection Guide

Peace and Freedom
Poster from activist group Women Strike for Peace

Peruvian Textiles

The Peruvian Textiles Collection consists of products of the Chancay, Chimú, and Tiahuanaco cultures, with one example dating back to the Precolombina period. Most of the collection is that of the Chancay, an indigenous group that produced a variety of textiles such as clothing, bags, and funeral masks. The Chancay culture (1200-1450 A.D.) reigned mainly in the valleys of Chancay and Chillón on the central coast of Perú. The Chimú culture was active between the years 1000-1200 AD and embellished their fabrics with brocades, embroidery, fabrics doubles, and painted fabrics. The Tiahuanaco culture, a Pre-Inca civilization, developed between 400 B.C. and 120 A.D. Their typically geometric designs also included images of plants and animals such as fish, cats, birds, monkeys, and dogs. Ultimately, the textiles represent the skill, artistry, and cultural landscape of each civilization. This collection, originating from Lima, Perú and the surrounding cities, was donated by Dr. Ericka Verba, Director of Latin American Studies to the University Library to Cal State LA Special Collections and Archives. The Peruvian textiles were received by Dr. Verba undated, therefore their exact dates and original donor are unknown.

Peruvian Textiles Collection Guide

Peruvian Textile
800 year old Peruvian textile sample from the Chancay culture

World War II Poster Collection

With the entrance of US Forces into World War II in 1941, the United States Government produced propaganda posters designed to increase support for the war on the home front. Posters encouraged the public to conserve materials for the war efforts, increase productions of war materials, buy war bonds, and maintain secrecy. This collection houses a variety of posters from such artists as Norman Rockwell, Albert Dorne, and Fritz Siebel.

View World War II Poster Collection Guide


The Federal Employee's Distribution Company (FEDCO) was founded in 1949 by 600 Los Angeles area postal workers. By 1984, FEDCO had nine stores with membership growing to over 3 million. Over time, deep discount merchandisers such as Wal-Mart and Costco drew large segments of FEDCO's business and in July of 1999, FEDCO filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. With materials dated between 1957 and 2000, this collection consists of photographs, publications, sale books, and achievements related to FEDCO and its partners.

View FEDCO Collection Guide