The California Tourism and Promotional Literature Collection consists of promotional material aimed at attracting visitors, settlers, and real estate investment to the state of California. The bulk of the material dates from 1880 to 1940, and includes tour and event booklets, travel guides, personal journals, street and real estate tract maps, posters, folded brochures, pamphlets, postcards, magazines, menus, drawings, photographs, and souvenirs. The collection is made up of fifty-five series arranged by region and county, the largest of which is for Los Angeles County. There are several series dedicated to statewide promotional literature, one series dedicated to California tours and excursions, and one series dedicated to souvenirs.
The collection offers a variety of materials illustrating many different reasons to travel to California including tourism, health, and agriculture. In terms of tourism, the collection includes many pamphlets from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most of which are produced by the Southern Pacific Company, which advertise cross-country trips by railway from places such as Boston and New Orleans to California. These trips generally traveled throughout California and advertise the scenic beauty of Yosemite and the Sequoia forest; the vast diversity of climate; the plethora of outdoor activities; and famous hotels such as The Raymond in Pasadena, the Palace in San Francisco, the Hotel del Monte in Monterey, the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, and the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles.
The collection also includes pamphlets containing information on the history and locations of the various California missions, including those in San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, San Fernando, and Santa Barbara. Additionally, there is much material describing the history of the California gold rush and the tours of numerous ghost towns and related locations. More recent items contain information regarding Hollywood and the film industry, the Cawston Ostrich Ranch in South Pasadena, San Francisco’s Chinatown, Catalina Island, and Inyo County’s Death Valley, as well as various posters and pamphlets for individual restaurants, hotels, and theaters.
California's weather is sometimes referred to as the "eternal spring," and is generally described to be a wonderland of health and goodness. Pamphlets issued by individual counties advertise the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles and Orange County and describe various areas as a wonderful respite from the harsher weather conditions in other parts of the country. There are also handouts advertising winter resorts in places like Palm Springs, where visitors may escape the cold of the winter months in order to spend time resting and recuperating.
The collection also includes pamphlets and booklets promoting immigration, migration, and settlement. These materials typically include information on agricultural in California, especially the cultivation of olives, figs, cherries, peaches, oranges, grapes, almonds, walnuts, and raising of livestock. Other economic opportunities described include oil, lumber, dairy, and viticulture, with information on average wages and cost of living. Also advertised are the various connecting railroads and, in the more modern booklets, the vast highway system covering the state.