The Fred Rochlin Collection

Fred Rochlin was a long-time architect in southern California who formed an architecture firm in 1952 with colleague Ephraim Baran. The Los Angeles-based Rochlin & Baran architecture firm specializes in (it’s still an operating firm) the design of hospitals, medical facilities, and, oddly enough, observatories.

The Rochlin collection contains materials related to the architect’s post-retirement career as a monologist, performer, and author of a collection of World War II memoirs. The collection contains manuscripts, ephemera, photographs, and correspondence related to his one-man performance titled “Old Man in a Baseball Cap” and the published book by the same name.

The Architect

Los Angeles Public Library, Encinco-Tarzana Branch, designed by Rochlin & Baran (1960). Photo from the LAPL Photo Collection.
Los Angeles Public Library, Encinco-Tarzana Branch, designed by Rochlin & Baran (1960). Photo from the LAPL Photo Collection.

Rochlin was born in 1923 in a village outside of Nogales, Arizona, a town that formed an axis around which many of the writings in his later career centered. In 1942 Rochlin dropped out of college to join the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and he served as a navigator aboard a B-24 bomber in the European theater. “Our job,” writes Rochlin in his memoirs, “was to bomb the southern perimeter of Europe and bomb in front of the Russian armies that were advancing from the East.” After an honorable discharge in 1946 at the rank of Lieutenant, Rochlin enrolled in UC Berkeley’s architecture program where he met both his future business partner, Ephraim Baran, and his future wife, Harriet Shapiro. From 1949-1952 Rochlin interned in the prestigious architecture firms of Lloyd Wright and Charles Eames, and in 1952 he and Baran formed their own architecture firm.

Beginning in a modest one-room studio in Santa Monica, Rochlin & Baran would go on to design a large number of hospitals and medical facilities throughout southern California including City of Hope, St. John’s Hospital, Tarzana Medical Center, Kaiser West Los Angeles, Northridge Medical Center, West Hills Hospital, and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Research Center. Apart from medical facilities, Rochlin & Baran also designed some of the nation’s leading observatories including the U. S. Naval Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, the University of Hawaii Observatory at Mauna Kea, the U.S. Solar Observatory in Sacramento, New Mexico, and the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. Other non-hospital projects included private residences, apartment buildings, and various civic buildings like the Los Angeles Public Library, Sherman Oaks Branch building (1960). In 1986 Rochlin retired from the firm he co-founded. “I want to immerse myself in the arts,” he wrote in his resignation letter that was poetic, cryptic, and that quoted writers like Thoreau and Yeats. “It takes the whole of a life time just to learn how to live it,” he said, hinting at his future artistic pursuits.

Old Man in a Baseball Cap

Rochlin bookAfter his retirement, Rochlin embarked on a fascinating and unlikely second career in writing and stage performance. In 1993 Rochlin attended a writing workshop led by author Spalding Gray at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, Califonrnia. In a letter to Gray, Rochlin wrote how he wanted to learn the craft of writing; he wanted to do what Gray did. Rochlin and Gray developed a friendship and Rochlin would later host the famous monologist at his Westwood apartment. In 1994, Rochlin enrolled in the Go Solo workshop at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, California. Led by Laurie Lathem, the Go Solo workshops taught attendees how to write and perform for the stage. Between 1994-1996, Rochlin produced a number of performance scripts based on his experiences as a navigator in a B-24 bomber during World War II, titled “Old Man in a Baseball Cap.”

On February 6, 1996, Rochlin performed an early version of his “Old Man in a Baseball Cap” script on stage at Highways. In his 20-minute monologue, Fred talked about growing up outside of Nogales, joining the Army Air Force after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and performing an emergency Caesarean section hours before going on a bombing run over Hungary. After returning, his crew would learn that they bombed the wrong target, effectively wiping out a city of innocents by accident. Rochlin’s performances were powerful, engaging, and generally very well received. Over the next few years, he performed “Old Man in a Baseball Cap” in Los Angeles, La Jolla, Louisville, Sacramento, Peterborough, Mamaroneck, Skokie, and Phoenix. He told stories about being shot down over Yugoslavia, parachuting into the middle of nowhere and having to walk out of the country to Italy on foot led by a Yugoslav partisan named Maruska. Rochlin’s performance at Sacramento’s “B” Street Theater on January 6, 1998 received a very favorable write-up from Bruce Weber at the New York Times, who called Rochlin’s monolog “ribald, adult, morally complex and occasionally starkly funny (“At 74, a New Life as a Spellbinder Haunted by War,” The New York Times, Arts in America section, January 22, 1998).”


Fred at his home in Los Angeles.
Fred at his home in Los Angeles.

Achieving in a few years what most actors and writers can only hope to achieve during their lifetime, Rochlin secured a book deal with HarperCollins to turn his monologs into a collection of published memoirs. Throughout 1998, Rochlin worked on developing a manuscript of his memoirs and the book was published in early 1999. Despite the publication of his book and his hectic publicity schedule, Rochlin continued to perform “Old Man in a Baseball Cap” and attend writers’ workshops, like the Djerassi Resident Artists’ Program.

Harriet Rochlin has managed Fred’s papers and manuscripts since his death in 2002. The collection of papers, manuscripts, ephemera, and photographs has been processed and deposited at UCLA Library Special Collections, where it will be available to researchers. An online finding aid to the Fred Rochlin collection is forthcoming.

Further Reading & Listening

You can hear a fascinating and powerful interview of Fred Rochlin from This American Life, recorded in 1998 at the height of his career as a monologist. Rochlin was interviewed by his daughter, journalist Margy Rochlin, and he elaborates on some of his experiences in World War II and on being part of southern California’s art and theater world. In the candid interview, Margy learns some things about her father for the first time.

Are Archivists also Librarians?

Photograph of Navy Archives, from the U.S. National Archives' Flickr collection.
Photograph of Navy Archives, from the U.S. National Archives’ Flickr collection.

Are archivists also librarians? For me it’s an easy answer: yes. I consider myself an archivist as well as a librarian. Mapping it out logically, I believe archivists are librarians, but not all librarians are archivists, making archivists a specialized type of librarian. However this perspective, as I learned recently, is not shared by everyone.

During a recent job interview at an institution that shall remain nameless, I was presenting to a group of library staff and faculty members on the role of special collections in an academic environment. When responding to a question about the archivist’s role over the narrative of archival materials, I was challenged by one of the attendees when I claimed that archivists, also being librarians, have a professional obligation to acquire, preserve, and provide access to all materials (within the confines of the collection’s and institution’s access policies), no matter how the individual archivist views the materials.

When I mentioned that archivists are also librarians, the attendee, who it turns out is also an archivist, asked half-sardonically “Are we?” It was clear he did not agree with me on this point. I thought about it on the fly but doubled down. “Yes, I think we are,” I said. I mentioned that archivists certainly have more specialized responsibilities than many librarians, such as dealing with preservation issues. But ultimately, archivists are also librarians and we are still professionally obligated to, among other things, ensure access to materials that we may or may not agree with (again, within the confines of the collection’s and institution’s access policies), be they popular fiction, academic journals, or manuscripts. Even the Society of American Archivists notes the overlapping responsibilities of the librarian and the archivist:

“The librarian and the archivist, for example, both collect, preserve, and make accessible materials for research; but significant differences exist in the way these materials are arranged, described, and used.”

— Society of American Archivists, “An Overview of the Archives Profession,”, accessed November 7, 2011.

When I elaborated on this point, the archivist in attendance raised his eyebrows showing that he still did not agree with me, but he didn’t press it any further.

It was a challenging yet rewarding presentation and I was definitely honored to discuss the role of special collections in an academic environment to this group. However I’ve been thinking a lot about this person’s perspective since then and I wanted to do a little informal survey to see what my archivist friends and colleagues think about this issue.

Do you archivists out there also consider yourself, to some degree, librarians? Why or why not? I’m interested to read your perspectives. Feel free to leave comments and feedback on this site or on my Facebook and/or G+ pages.

The Ludwig Lauerhass Research Collection

Aerial photo of the Hiroshima bomb blast. From the U.S. National Archives.
Aerial photo of the Hiroshima bomb blast

“Pika-don (Flash-boom), as uncomprehending witnesses called the bombs’ explosions, signaled an end and a beginning — the end of World War II and the beginning of the atomic age. While mushroom clouds were rising into the sky, the cities below were being transformed into monuments of devastation. In those brief hours of August 6 and 9, 1945, Hiroshima and Nagasaki became unique — the world’s first and only targets of atomic attack. More than 200,000 died within minutes, hours, or days, and thousands later succumbed to wounds or the effects of radiation. Still others survived but often bore life-long emotional or physical scars. The two cities are now rebuilt, more beautiful, more prosperous, and larger than before, showing little evidence of the bombings. Iconic images, however, of the mushroom clouds, of the devastated urban landscapes, and of affected individual survivors (hibakusha) persist as indelible testaments to and constant reminders of the two cities’ shared nuclear experience and as warnings of what nuclear weapons can do.”

— Opening paragraph of Hiroshima/Nagasaki: Compelling Images of the Atomic Experience, by Ludwig Lauerhass, Jr. and Kanae Omura, 2010 [unpublished manuscript].

The Ludwig Lauerhass Research Collection is a collection of materials acquired by Professor Lauerhass during the research and writing of his Compelling Images manuscript. The manuscript analyzes how visual imagery of the mushroom cloud and the devastation of the two cities has evolved over time since the 1940s. Images of the atomic bomb mushroom cloud and the devastation were rare in the years immediately following the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. There was an official policy of censorship during the Allied occupation of Japan (1945-1952), which severely restricted what people saw and read regarding the United States’ atomic bombings of Japan.

In the process of writing this manuscript, Professor Lauerhass has collected a wide variety of materials including books, periodical and newspaper articles, photographs, art reviews, film poster prints, and personal albums and notebooks. The collection also contains ephemera from contemporary Japan including maps, guidebooks, pamphlets, and literature from museums and peace memorials. The collection includes some very fascinating items and some of the notable pieces include:

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The CFPRT and the Jay Frierman Collection

During this spring quarter I am working as a Fellow with UCLA’s CFPRT processing the papers and research of Jay Frierman. Frierman was a UCLA history and archaeology professor who conducted original archaeological surveys and excavations throughout the Middle East in the 1960s and 1970s and southern California in the 1980s and 1990s. Interestingly enough, before Frierman was a UCLA professor, he managed the Vincent Price Art Gallery at the East Los Angeles College for several years in the late 1950s. Frierman was an expert of Middle East ceramics and glazes as well as early California settlements and cultures.

ord-LAFrierman retired from UCLA in 1980 and began his second career as a consulting archaeologist, where he became an expert on the early California cultures and settlements. Frierman conducted independent archaeological surveys throughout California from SLO to Malibu to downtown Los Angeles. Much of the work he conducted in the 1980s was at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, which is the parcel of land around LA’s historic Olvera Street and which comprises the original Spanish colonial from the late 18th Century. He did excavation surveys on different plots of land throughout the El Pueblo park and found numerous historical cultural artifacts. The red circle on the map shows where the original downtown Los Angeles settlement was located, a piece of land now bisected by the 101 Freeway.

L.A.’s historic Sepulveda House. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Frierman also conducted archaeological surveys on several of the historical buildings in downtown Los Angeles including the Pico House, the Garnier House, and the Sepulveda House, all built between 1870 and 1890. Here is a photograph of the historic Sepulveda House where Frierman conducted excavations in the early 1980s. Jay Frierman passed away in 2000 but left a legacy as one of the top experts on Middle Eastern ceramic glazes and the early settlements and cultures of southern California.