Abstract

The catalogues of Dawson’s Book Store, Los Angeles’s longest-standing antiquarian bookstore, established in 1905, show California’s figurative representation in texts and bibliography. The catalogues’ indexing of historical and literary works on California—dubbed Californiana—reveal a specific conceptualization of regionalism structured around topography, travel literature, and historical pamphlets, among other material. The catalogues acted as guidebooks for customers to imaginatively explore California’s colonial past. This understanding of California’s history was juxtaposed with descriptions of a rapidly modernizing Los Angeles, situating Dawson’s at the threshold between a telescoped past and an on-rushing future. The catalogues’ curation of regional space was mirrored by the physical space of the bookstore’s Californiana department. As the catalogues were indexes of the shop’s continually changing stock, they invoke and challenge the structure of libraries, archives, and bibliograpies. This article contributes to discussions surrounding book collecting, regional literature and history, and the intersection of antiquarianism and modernity in Southern California.

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