The mission of the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center is to collect, preserve, and disseminate the visual history of the region with an emphasis on ethnic minority communities and photographers. The Bradley Center also promotes research, serves as a center for the exchange of ideas about our visual history, and contributes to the region’s educational efforts through our exhibitions, programs, and digital archives.
Tom & Ethel Bradley Center
The Tom & Ethel Bradley Center's (Bradley Center) archives contain over one million images from Los Angeles based freelance and independent photographers between the 1930s to the present. Approximately 80% of the collection is comprised of African American photographers in and near Los Angeles. The Bradley Center is the only repository for photographs before 1993 from the Los Angeles Sentinel. Oral histories, manuscripts, and other ephemeral materials support the photographic collection. Additionally, the archives contain over six-dozen oral histories from African American photographers, Civil Rights leaders and organizers, individuals involved with the history of Los Angeles, Journalism, the group Mexicans in Exile, and the United Farmworkers. Audio and video comprise the collection along with the personal papers of many individuals and organizations. The manuscript collection contains the papers of many Los Angeles civic leaders, the AFL-CIO, AFT, CA Federation of Teachers, Community Relations Committee of the Jewish-Federation Council of L.A., CPPA, League of Women Voters of L.A., and the United Way of L.A. Other collections include the archives of Journalist Michael Emery and the United Farmworkers Organization. Additionally, the Bradley Center's Border Studies Collection examines the issues surrounding the border between the United States and Mexico.
The Bradley Center was established in 1981 in the Department of Journalism, California State University, Northridge by Dr. Kent Kirkton as the Center for Photojournalism & Visual History. It was renamed the Institute for Arts & Media in 2008 as its mission and participation had broadened over the years. In 2015, the Institute for Arts & Media developed an ongoing relationship with the Tom & Ethel Bradley Foundation and was renamed the Tom & Ethel Bradley Center.
The African American section of the collection contains rich documentation of the Civil Rights Movement and its leaders as well as local churches, politicians, musicians, singers, entertainers, athletes, and social organizations. Coverage of Dr. King is very well represented in the collection as are other such luminaries as Mayors Tom Bradley and Sam Yorty, Rev. H. H. Brookins of 1st AME, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Earl Warren, Louis Armstrong, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Muhammad Ali, Errol Garner, Dinah Washington, James Baldwin, Roy Wilkins, Nat King Cole, Joe Campanella, numerous jazz greats, and many, many others of national repute. The coverage of political campaigns and voter registration efforts is extensive. Included are thousands of images of daily life and public occasions such as Civil Rights marches and protests, celebrations and parades. There is significant coverage of churches and church events in Los Angeles that is broad and unmatched in any other collections in the region.
Other noteworthy collections in the Bradley Center are the collections of Richard Cross, Emmon Clarke, and Herb Carleton. Richard Cross was a freelance photographer documenting the wars in El Salvador and Honduras for Newsweek, the Associated Press, the New York Times, and U.S. News and World Report where he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He was killed along with Dial Torgerson, a Los Angeles Times reporter, when an explosive blast struck their car in 1979. He documented life in the Afro-Columbian community, Palenque de San Basilio, a remarkable community located in the mountains near Cartagena established by runaway slaves that maintained African cultural life well into the end of the 20th century. The Cross collection also contains images of the Masai, and a documentary study of the Mayan refugee camp in Chiapas, Mexico. There are 35,000 prints and negatives in the Cross Collection.
Emmon Clarke was a volunteer photographer for César Chávez and the United Farmworkers during the formative period of the union. The collection documents the strike, union meetings, picketing, fieldwork, boycott efforts and migrant housing camps. The collection includes photographs of Chávez, Dolores Huerta, Julio Hernandez, Richard Chávez, Gilbert Padilla, Luis Valdez, and other leaders of the union as well as the rank and file members.
Herb Carleton started his career at the Green Sheet, which later became the Los Angeles Daily News, where worked until the mid 1980s. The collection is particularly strong in its coverage of school sports in the San Fernando Valley, including high school, community colleges and the San Fernando Valley State College. The collection also includes significant coverage of airplanes, boats, the Ice Capades, and California landscapes and architecture. Carleton was also nominated for a Pulitzer for his photographs of the devastating fire at the Warner Brothers studio in 1953. The collection contains 185,000 prints and negatives.
Photojournalist, Julián Cardona donated his collection of images that capture border issues and economic violence in Mexico. Born in 1960 in Zacatecas, Mexico, Julián Cardona migrated to the border city of Juárez with his family as a small child. He attended school in Juárez, received vocational training, and worked as a technician in the maquiladora industry. In 1991, Cardona returned to Zacatecas to teach basic photography at the Centro Cultural de Zacatecas; two years later, he started his photojournalism career at El Fronterizo and El Diario de Juárez. His photographs inspired the award-winning book, Juárez: The Laboratory of Our Future (Aperture, 1998). His photographs taken inside foreign-owned factories in Juárez were also featured in Camera of Dirt (Aperture 159, 2000).