The Susan B. Nelson Collection documents Nelson’s professional and personal life, most notably, the fundamental role she played in the creation of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in 1978. The collection details the work of the Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains’ Parks and Seashore (FSMMPS) and the Santa Monica Mountains and Seashore Foundation (SMMSF), which Nelson utilized to realize the dream of an urban park for residents of the greater Los Angeles area. Materials include governing documents, meeting minutes, leadership and membership rosters, financial information, brochures, flyers, pamphlets, publications, reports and studies, testimony, legislative information, conference and workshop materials, project notebooks, photographic material, audio and visual recordings, and a large number of oversized maps, plans, and posters. In addition, the collection contains of records generated by a number of organizations and groups affiliated with Nelson’s work regarding environmental conservation and social and political causes. The collection is arranged into four series: Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains’ Parks and Seashore (1962-2001), Project and Research Files (1892-1911, 1928-2003), Publications (1957-2002), and Personal Files (1905, 1940-2003).
Series I, Friends of the Santa Monica Mountains’ Parks and Seashore, contains the organization’s working papers, as well as the administrative papers of its funding partner, the SMMSF. The series includes administrative notebooks, financial records, and meeting minutes that document the organization’s operations and administrative practices; SMMSF By-laws, Articles of Incorporation, and establishing documentation, which detail the foundation’s origin, governing structure, and procedures for selecting individuals to its supervisory boards; and contact lists and rosters that identify organizational officers and members for specific years. Materials also include a brochure designed to inform the public of the organization’s purpose, as well as audio recordings, flyers, newsletters, and press releases that highlight the FSMMPS’s activities within the community. It also consists of interoffice and general correspondence that documents the FSMMPS and the SMMSF’s interactions with colleagues; environmental agencies such as the National Park Service and Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy; and local, state, and federal politicians including California Governor Jerry Brown and President Jimmy Carter. In several instances, correspondence contains materials of both a professional and personal nature. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, Project and Research Files, makes up the bulk of the collection and documents the social, political, and environmental projects that comprised Nelson’s life work. Materials include legislative information, testimony, conference and workshop documentation, natural and cultural resource studies, petitions, newspaper articles, and correspondence pertaining to the creation of the SMMNRA. The series also details the role that FSMMPS, SMMNRA Advisory Commission, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and the National Park Service played in the development and management of the new Urban National Park. It also consists of information regarding the preservation of open space for recreational use and establishment of California State Parks, as well as the preservation of its beaches and coastline.
Additionally, the series contains information regarding grassroots and political organizations, homeowner’s associations, and community and conservation groups that lent their efforts to a variety of environmental and social issues, as well as organizational flyers, pamphlets, brochures, meeting announcements, newspaper articles, and newsletters highlighting public outreach events and specific issues of concern. Areas of focus include the City of Los Angeles General Plan; urban development; city oil pipeline projects and offshore drilling; solid waste management; Green Party politics; the bioregional movement; hazardous toxins and radioactive landfills; and air and water quality. Materials also consist of information on public education, including the “Integration Project” designed to ensure equal and integrated education, as well as files on women’s issues, health care, housing, and community building. Files on peace depict Nelson’s domestic and international concerns regarding terrorism, nuclear weaponry, war in the Middle East and Yugoslavia, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, and election practices in Latin America. The series includes photographic material; audio and visual recordings; and oversized maps and plans related to the series’ projects. There are also a large number of project notebooks that contain material of both a professional and personal nature. The series in arranged alphabetically.
Series III, Publications, contains reports, studies, informational literature, and management and community plans pertaining to the environmental and public issues. The publications in the series are the work of various government, environmental, and private agencies such as the City of Los Angeles Department of City Planning, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of California Department of Water Resources, and the Mulholland Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The materials in Series III serve as supplemental and supportive information for the projects and research files contained in Series II. Topics in the series include the establishment of the Mulholland Scenic Corridor; Los Angeles’ growth, infrastructure, and transportation; municipal waste management; environmental pollutants; California coastal and water plans; and resource management plans for Southern California’s mountains, canyons, and deserts. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IV, Personal Files, documents Susan Nelson’s life as an educator, writer, and member of the environmental planning community, as well as provides insight into her personal relationships with colleagues, family, and friends. The series includes academic materials pertaining to Nelson’s education; biographical information and resumés that chronicle the evolution of her career; and calendars, daily planners, address books and lists that detail her personal and professional activities and contacts. Materials also include travel documentation and photographic material regarding vacations and work related trips; financial documents, hand drawn sketches, and professional plans related to the remodeling of Nelson’s home; family records that reveal the Barr family’s origins; and photographic materials that depict family and home life. In addition, Series IV consists of certificates that document Nelson’s academic achievements and organizational memberships; teaching materials pertaining to her role as a college instructor; and personal writings, journals, poems, and notebooks that contain Nelson’s reflections regarding her early life, family, dealings with colleagues, and professional pursuits. Correspondence includes letters, holiday greeting cards, postcards, and invitations and announcements of both a personal and professional nature. The series is arranged alphabetically.