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Agness M. Underwood Collection

Overview

Abstract

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Biographical Records

Correspondence

Newspaperwoman

Personal and Family Papers

Published Material

Non-Manuscript Material



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Agness M. Underwood Collection, 1916-1992 | Special Collections & Archives

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Collection Overview

Title: Agness M. Underwood Collection, 1916-1992Save to your list.

Predominant Dates:1949-1980

ID: URB/AMU

Primary Creator: Underwood, Agness (1902-1984)

Extent: 30.2 Linear Feet

Arrangement:

Series I: Biographical Records, 1929-1985

Series II: Correspondence, 1930-1982

    Subseries A: Chronological, 1930-1981

    Subseries B: Alphabetical, 1941-1982

Series III: Newspaperwoman, 1949

Series IV: Personal and Family Papers, 1916-1991

Series V: Published Material, 1922-1983

    Subseries A: Clippings, 1922-1983

    Subseries B: Other Publications, 1932-1982

    Subseries C: "World Famed Hollywood was Formerly an Incorporated City" Research Materials, 1953

Series VI: Non-Manuscript Material, 1920-1989

Date Acquired: 00/00/1983. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Journalists - California, Underwood, Agness, 1902-1984, Women journalists

Forms of Material: Albums, Audio recordings, Paper records, Photographic material, Publications, Video recordings

Languages: English

Abstract

Agness Underwood was a Los Angeles newspaper woman for forty-two years. During the 1930s and 1940s she was one of the city's best-known court and police reporters. In 1947, she became city editor of the Herald Express, a post she held for seventeen and a half years. During that time, she was the only woman city editor of a major American metropolitan newspaper. No man had ever held the job more than four years, and during her editorship she helped push the Herald's circulation up over 700,000, which made it the largest afternoon daily in the West at that time. The Agness M. Underwood Collection consists predominantly of articles, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches, typescripts, and galley proofs for her book Newspaperwoman, which combine to document both her journalistic work and family life.

Biographical Note

Agness Underwood was a Los Angeles newspaper woman for forty-two years.  She started her long and successful career in the newspaper business as a switchboard operator in 1926, when she was hired on temporarily by the Los Angeles Record.  Her first newspaper experiences began on a part-time basis under the wing of Gertrude Price, helping with the Cynthia Gray Christmas Basket project sponsored by the Record. From time to time, Underwood was also given assignments covering junior women's clubs events. For the next four years Underwood worked on a more or less part-time reporter status.

In 1931, events and assignments increased, which quickly showed her talents.  Underwood's big chance came on May 20, 1931, when, "Los Angeles officialdom was shaken by the shooting and killing of Charles H. Crawford and Herbert F. Spencer by an unidentified assailant in Crawford's office on Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood." She began "grubbing" and came up with an exclusive interview with a suspect's parents, providing her first city side by line:  "Mrs. Clark Says Son is Innocent." A second interview covering the murders was with the wife of slain newspaperman Herb Spencer. Underwood's crime reporting career had begun.

In 1935, Underwood moved over to William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Herald and Express and remained with the paper until her retirement in 1968.

During the 1930s and 1940s she was one of the city's best-known court and police reporters.  She became well known for her sharp news sense in compiling a long record of scoops and exposés while covering many famous crimes and Hollywood related stories. Headlines for Underwood's reporting included:  "Find Thelma Todd, Film Star, Dead in Mystery" (December 16, 1935); " Missing Inglewood Tots Found Murdered" (June 28, 1937); "Girl in Dance Murder Probe Tells Downward Path" (November 23, 1944). Underwood also sat front row for the trials of Charlie Chaplin and Errol Flynn.

In 1947, she became city editor of the Herald Express, a post she held for seventeen and a half years.  During that time she was the only woman city editor of a major American metropolitan newspaper. No man had ever held the job more than four years, and during her editorship she helped push the Herald's circulation up over 700,000, which made it the largest afternoon daily in the west at that time.  With a sawed-off baseball bat on her desk and a starter pistol in her drawer, she ran a staff of hard-nosed reporters and photographers who endeared her with the name "Aggie."  Relationships were based on concern, respect and honest affection. Underwood's record as a woman in the hectic world of big city journalism was unparalleled, and it made her a legend in her time.

Underwood retired from the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1968, eventually moving to Greeley, Colorado to live with family. She passed away in 1984. Agness was survived by two children and five grandchildren.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Agness M. Underwood Collection consists predominantly of articles, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches, typescripts, and galley proofs for her book Newspaperwoman, which combine to document both her journalistic work and family life. Other material in the collection includes certificates, greeting cards, memorabilia, oral history and video tape interviews, memoranda, notes, a series of publications including the Eight Ball Final and Just One More, a record album, and related biographical items. The collection has been divided into six series: Biographical Records (1929-1985), Correspondence (1930-1982), Newspaperwoman (1949), Personal and Family Papers (1916-1992), Published Material (1922-1983), and Non-Manuscript Material (1920-1989).

Series I, Biographical Records, contains awards, indexes, memos, newspaper clippings, news articles, notes, resolutions, speeches, and related items of a biographical nature. The files are arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Series II, Correspondence, has been divided into two subseries. Subseries A, Chronological (1930-1981), is correspondence filed chronologically, and Subseries B, Alphabetical (1941-1982), is correspondence filed alphabetically by name of correspondent.

Series III, Newspaperwoman, contains articles, newspaper clippings, and reviews of Underwood's book, Newspaperwoman. The series also contains the galley proofs and a typescript of the book. Arrangement is by nature of the material.

Series IV, Personal and Family Papers, includes an address book, family correspondence, libel suit documents, newspaper clippings, property documents, radio scripts, and family memorabilia. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series V, Published Material, includes three subseries: Subseries A, Newspaper Clippings (1922-1983), consists of newspaper clippings arranged alphabetically by author and chronologically thereafter. Subseries B, Other Publications (1932-1982), contains other publications written by or about Underwood’s work, arranged alphabetically by article title. Subseries C, "World Famed Hollywood was Formerly an Incorporated City," (1953), consists of reproduced materials and research related to the incorporation of the City of Hollywood and is arranged alphabetically by creator.

Series VI, Non-Manuscript Material, includes audio tapes (4) of an interview given by Underwood and music by Ray Underwood, which were removed from the manuscript material and placed in the Audiovisual Collection. A transcript of the Underwood interview is filed separately. This series also includes photographs, records, 16mm film shorts, video tapes, a name plate, Underwood’s typewriters, and transparencies.

Subject/Index Terms

Journalists - California
Underwood, Agness, 1902-1984
Women journalists

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & Archives

Accruals: 1996, 2004, 2011

Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions: Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Acquisition Source: Angess M. Underwood

Related Materials: William Randolph Fowler Collection

Preferred Citation: For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials guide.

Processing Information: Dr. Tom Reilly, Robert G. Marshall, Han Xiaoquan, David Bray, March 1987

Finding Aid Revision History:

Autumn Hayner, Cathy Kay, February 2006

April Feldman, April 2011

Special Collections and Archives staff, 2012

Other Note: This collection was processed with generous support from the Tom W. Reilly estate.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[Series I: Biographical Records, 1929-1984]
[Series II: Correspondence, 1927-1983]
[Series III: Newspaperwoman, 1949]
[Series IV: Personal and Family Papers, 1916-1992]
[Series V: Published Material, 1903-1983]
[Series VI: Non-Manuscript Material, 1920-1989],
[All]

Series II: Correspondence, 1927-1983Save to your list.
Subseries A: Chronological, 1930-1981Save to your list.
Box 2Save to your list.
Folder 25: Correspondence, 1930-1939Save to your list.
Folder 26: Correspondence, 1942-1946Save to your list.
Folder 27: Correspondence, 1947Save to your list.
Folder 28: Correspondence, 1948Save to your list.
Folder 29: Correspondence, January-June 1949Save to your list.
Folder 30: Correspondence, July-December 1949Save to your list.
Folder 31: Correspondence: regarding Women of Achievement Award, 1949Save to your list.
Box 3Save to your list.
Folder 1: Correspondence, January-March 1950Save to your list.
Folder 2: Correspondence, April-December 1950Save to your list.
Folder 3: Correspondence, 1951Save to your list.
Folder 4: Correspondence, 1952Save to your list.
Folder 5: Correspondence, 1953-1957Save to your list.
Folder 6: Correspondence: regarding "This Is Your Life", 1956-1957Save to your list.
Folder 7: Correspondence, 1958Save to your list.
Folder 8: Correspondence, 1959Save to your list.
Folder 9: Correspondence, 1960Save to your list.
Folder 10: Correspondence, 1961Save to your list.
Folder 11: Correspondence, 1962-1963Save to your list.
Folder 12: Correspondence, 1964Save to your list.
Folder 13: Correspondence, January-July 1965Save to your list.
Folder 14: Correspondence, August-December 1965Save to your list.
Folder 15: Correspondence, 1966Save to your list.
Folder 16: Correspondence, 1967Save to your list.
Folder 17: Correspondence, 1968Save to your list.
Folder 18: Correspondence, 1969-1971Save to your list.
Folder 19: Correspondence, 1973-1977, 1979Save to your list.
Folder 20: CorrespondenceSave to your list.
Box 7Save to your list.
Folder 15: Correspondence, 1947Save to your list.
Folder 16: Correspondence, 1951, 1957Save to your list.
Folder 17: Correspondence, 1966-1968Save to your list.
Folder 18: Correspondence, 1971, 1972, 1974Save to your list.
Folder 19: Correspondence, 1981Save to your list.
Box 20Save to your list.
Folder 38: Correspondence, 1932Save to your list.
Folder 39: Correspondence regarding alcoholism and AA, 1948 January 21Save to your list.
Folder 40: CorrespondenceSave to your list.
Subseries B: Alphabetical, 1941-1982Save to your list.
Box 3Save to your list.
Folder 21: Campbell, John T.B.: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1949, 1956Save to your list.
Folder 22: Cohen, Mickey and Harry: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1958-1965Save to your list.
Folder 23: Cohen, Mickey and Harry: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1958-1965Save to your list.
Box 4Save to your list.
Folder 1: Cohen, Mickey and Harry: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1958-1965Save to your list.
Folder 2: Cohen, Mickey and Harry: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1958-1965Save to your list.
Folder 3: Cohen, Mickey and Harry: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1958-1965Save to your list.
Folder 4: Freedom of Information Committee: correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1970Save to your list.
Folder 5: Fowler, Guy: correspondence; newspaper clipping, 1966Save to your list.
Folder 6: Fowler, Perry; newspaper clippings, 1944Save to your list.
Folder 7: Goss, Foster: biographical data, 1960Save to your list.
Folder 8: Goss, Foster: correspondence, 1949-1972Save to your list.
Folder 9: Goss, Foster: correspondence, 1949-1972Save to your list.
Folder 10: Goss, Foster: correspondence, 1949-1972Save to your list.
Folder 11: Goss, Foster: correspondence, 1949-1972Save to your list.
Folder 12: Goss, Foster: greeting cardsSave to your list.
Folder 13: Hearst, William Randolph and Family: articles; correspondence; newspaper clippings, 1941-1964Save to your list.
Folder 14: Knight, Goodwin J.: correspondence, eulogy, 1954, 1956, 1970Save to your list.
Folder 15: Krauch, Herbert: correspondence, newspaper clippings, 1962, 1967Save to your list.
Folder 16: Los Angeles Newspaper Guild: strike bulletins, 1946Save to your list.
Folder 17: Los Angeles Sheriff's Department: correspondence, 1948-1965Save to your list.
Folder 18: Motion Picture Industry: pamphlets, "Hearings before the Committee on un-American Activities, House of Representatives, Eighty - second Congress, First Session," "The silent years album," Great Western Savings, ca. 1951, 1971, 1951 May 10, September 10 - 12Save to your list.
Folder 19: Schenk, Floyd H.: correspondence, 1962 May 16Save to your list.
Folder 20: Sagrista, Stella M.: estate petition, ca. 1963Save to your list.
Folder 21: Summers, Evelyn: correspondence; scripts, 1965Save to your list.
Folder 22: White, Evelyn C.: newspaper clippings, 1977, 1979Save to your list.
Folder 23: White Thomas P.: correspondence, 1942-1961Save to your list.
Folder 24: Winchell, Walter: correspondence; memoranda; newspaper clippings, 1953-1968Save to your list.
Box 7Save to your list.
Folder 20: Kenner, Ron: regarding Black Dahlia, ca. 1982Save to your list.
Folder 21: Reilly, Tom (CSUN), 1981-1982Save to your list.
Box 20Save to your list.
Folder 41: Fowler, Gene: correspondence, 1960 August 2Save to your list.

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Biographical Records, 1929-1984]
[Series II: Correspondence, 1927-1983]
[Series III: Newspaperwoman, 1949]
[Series IV: Personal and Family Papers, 1916-1992]
[Series V: Published Material, 1903-1983]
[Series VI: Non-Manuscript Material, 1920-1989],
[All]


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