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Research Demands Accuracy

Julie Lugo Cerra - Culver City Historical SocietyNotes from Your City Historian
by Julie Lugo Cerra

There are so many avenues to travel while gathering information. Accuracy is paramount, but not so easy to achieve. This is why we use multiple sources of information. In earlier times, we had publications, public records — and people. Library visits were made in person…

When Memories Differ…

One of my first jobs in the Society was to write a tour of the city. I began my research in printed material, plotted points, and then went on to interviews.

One day, I remember taking two lovely ladies — grand dames of Culver City — on a ride to “pick their brains.” Both were living in Culver City in the 1920s, so they offered a wealth of colorful information. But when we got to a particular block in downtown, their memories of a dairy were just a little “off” and I was ever so grateful one was seated in the front seat and the other in the back seat. These mild-mannered octogenarians almost came to blows! In the long run their invaluable memories pointed my search to old directories which pinpointed that dairy!

Microfilm Still Valuable! - Culver City Historical SocietyMicrofilm Still Valuable!
Our ARC Saturdays (and by appointment) provide some great fun for researchers. The bound copies of the Evening Star News, for example, promote “life and times” discussions about “the olden days.”

While researching one issue, you can almost count on finding the answer to another question. In addition, we have additional newspapers on microfilm, but our reader has been a little temperamental. As you can see in this photo, CCHS President Stu Freeman (L) made adjustments that brought viewing “into focus.” Bill Hahn recently used the catalogued microfilm to supplement his bound newspaper searches.

Many New Research Sources
Most people trusted the printed word. The Los Angeles Times used to have fact checkers, and in the past, I received calls to double-check information in an upcoming article mentioning Culver City. It appears that fact checkers were victims of budget cuts, and you can see evidence of the errors that appear as corrections — daily.

Unfortunately, most researchers will not automatically check the next edition to make sure their subject was not erroneously reported.

The internet is a valuable source of information, but one has to pause and check. Some information is accessible from libraries, but there are other sources of information, like Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, which includes unsubstantiated information presented like it was researched. It has a lot of erroneous information on Culver City, including the dates movie studios were established. IMDb is the international movie database which also allows people to add to their information, and it reminds me of those ladies and the dairy location — lots of discrepancies…so be careful!

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