24 Feb 2011
Surfing and Surf Culture in Orange County
Special Collections and Archives collects extensively materials related to Orange County history, in particular materials on: agriculture; art and architecture; beaches; biography; business and industry; cities and towns; City of Irvine; Disneyland; environmental issues; Irvine Ranch; Irvine Company; land and real estate development; Helena Modjeska; the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community; local politics; San Juan Capistrano Mission; transportation; Upper Newport Bay; water; and women in the public sphere.
One of the newer areas of collecting is surfing and surf culture in Orange County. The focus of this relatively small collection is on the early history of surfing in Orange County, from Seal Beach to San Onofre. The collection is currently almost exclusively books and magazines. We are always interested in donations to the collection, particularly books, magazines, photographs, posters, videos/DVDs, and archival collections. To donate material to the surfing collection, contact Steve MacLeod (email@example.com, 949-824-4967).
Surfing was probably introduced to Orange County by Hawaiian George Freeth in 1908, but by the 1920s and 1930s there was a growing community of surfers in the county. The first surfing club on the U.S. mainland, the Corona del Mar Surfboard Club, was formed in the late 1920s. The club sponsored the first surf contest in the U.S., the Pacific Coast Surf Riding Championships, which was held eight times between 1928 and 1941, first in Corona del Mar and then in San Onofre. The first all-service commercial surfboard shop opened in Dana Point in 1954, Hobie Surfboards. Surfer, the first magazine about surfing, began publishing in the Spring of 1960, in San Clemente. The collection at UCI documents this history and more, including information on key individuals, important organizations and clubs, businesses, music and the arts, film, and fashion. A few highlights from the collection include:
- Captain James Cooks’ A Voyage to the Pacific (1784) is a four-volume account of Cook’s expedition to the Pacific. Volume 3 includes the first published account of surfing and includes an illustration of surfers in Kealakekua Bay on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.
- The San Onofre Surfing Club was established in 1952. The San Onofre Surfing Club 50th Anniversary Commemorative Album includes stories, photographs and the history of this important local club.
- Biographies of important surfers and surfboard designers, e.g. Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison, Tom Blake, George “Peanuts” Larson, Dale Velzy, and Rich Harbour.
- Published books of compilations of images by preeminent surf photographers and artists, e.g. LeRoy Grannis, John Severson, Larry “Flame” Moore, Ron Stoner, Jeff Divine and Robb Havassy.
Surfing & Surf Culture in Orange County: Early History is the first exhibit in the newly renovated Special Collections and Archives Department. Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 23, a sample of surfing collection materials, including books, vintage photos and movie posters, will be on display near the fifth-floor entrance to Special Collections and Archives in Langson Library. The renovated space includes an exhibit area, and also a much improved environment for researchers in the Reading Room. The exhibit will be up through September 16, 2011.