This fall, society archivist Mary Ellen Goddard led a four-part seminar on archival practices. In addition to its wealth of practical information, the seminar helped answer the question, “What does the society do?” Read on to learn the answer.
This is the first of a continuing series that will take a peek inside the society’s rich archives. At any given moment, only a small fraction of the collection can be displayed. The rest, however, is of interest both to the researcher and the layperson alike. This month we look at the important Edrick Miller Collection.
Who donated the collection?
Edrick Miller is a retired city employee, aerospace worker, and army lieutenant from Tustin, California. Miller wrote three books: A Slice of Orange, The Hayburners of Orange County, and The SAAAB Story. A Slice of Orange is to this day considered the definitive history of Costa Mesa. Miller served as a director of the Costa Mesa Historical Society and the Costa Mesa Bicentennial Committee. In recognition of his contributions to the understanding of Costa Mesa history, he received the society’s Living Memorial Award in 1982.
What’s inside the collection?
The bulk of the sprawling collection consists of research materials for Ed Miller’s three books. As such, the collection provides an essential resource for those interested in early Costa Mesa, Orange County transportation, and the Santa Ana Army Air Base history. The collection comprises newspaper clippings, city reports, property development records, oral histories, manuscripts, maps, and some 5,000 photos. Collectors of coffee and spice cans will also be interested in his Ben Hur Memorabilia Check List and other assorted artifacts.
When was the collection donated?
The collection’s first major accession occurred around 1980, with additions being made to the present day.
Where do I find the Edrick Miller collection?
The collection can be found at the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum. The museum can be visited every Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or by appointment. A volunteer or the archivist will be happy to help you research the collection.
Why is the collection important?
Miller’s books on Orange County and Costa Mesa in particular remain landmark histories 40 years after publication. His works are lauded for their thoroughness and accuracy. There are few topics Miller did not cover. A researcher can use Miller’s original sources and unpublished supporting documents as a springboard for further research. Above all, Miller’s vast photo collection, which form the core of the society’s collection, offers a rare and vital glimpse into the past.