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Eli Broad gives personal papers, archives to UCLA Library

Collection highlights his extensive business, civic and philanthropic activities and role in L.A.’s development into global cultural center

Tom Bradley and Eli Broad
UCLA Library Special Collections

Eli Broad, here in an undated photo with former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, has had a sizable influence on the city’s rise to prominence.

When Eli Broad and his wife, Edythe, moved to Los Angeles in 1963, Sam Yorty was mayor, and aerospace had just become the city’s leading industry. The Museum of Contemporary Art didn’t yet exist and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art wouldn’t move to its Miracle Mile location for two more years.

Half a century later, it’s impossible to view the city’s rise to global prominence without considering Eli Broad’s influence. Indeed, he and Edythe are directly responsible for downtown L.A.’s newest cultural jewel: The Broad, the new contemporary art museum that opened on September 20 and is home to the nearly 2,000 artworks in the couple’s collection.

The only person to have built a Fortune 500 company in two different industries, Eli Broad has long been an active, engaged philanthropist in the areas of education, science and the arts. 

Broad has chosen the UCLA Library to house the records of his civic, business and philanthropic endeavors. His papers, which will come to the library in installments, will offer insight into his extraordinary business, philanthropic and civic accomplishments to scholars from a wide range of disciplines.

“Eli Broad’s unique role as a business, civic and philanthropic leader has enabled Los Angeles to grow into a major global center for the arts, culture, public education and entrepreneurial activity, and we are deeply honored that he is donating his personal papers to the UCLA Library,” said UCLA University Librarian Ginny Steel. “This major acquisition joins our other extensive holdings to make us the leading center for research on Los Angeles history and culture.”

During his five-decade career, Broad founded both SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home. He and Edythe also founded The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and The Broad Art Foundation, through which their philanthropy takes an entrepreneurial approach to improving K–12 public schools, advancing scientific and medical research and increasing public exposure to the arts.

“I have been privileged to have four distinct careers — accounting, homebuilding, retirement savings and now philanthropy — and I am humbled to share the records of my activities with students and historians,” Broad said. “We have always had a special relationship with UCLA, and I was impressed with the scholarship, digital access and curatorial professionalism of its Special Collections.”

UCLA Library Special Collections
Eli Broad’s remarks about his gift to build the Broad Art Center at UCLA

At UCLA, the Broads have supported such critical areas of excellence and innovation as the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation’s most recent gifts in May 2014 were to fund research in stem cell science and digestive diseases and to support the recruitment of key faculty..

The first installment of Broad’s papers encompasses photographs, clippings, awards and ephemera, primarily from the 1990s and 2000s, documenting events, speeches and phone calls. There are also SunAmerica annual reports and a scrapbook from the company’s 25th anniversary.

In addition, the collection contains designs from a competition that ultimately selected Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid as the architect for the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, Eli Broad’s alma mater; and schematic drawings for The Broad contemporary art museum.

The papers will be housed in UCLA Library Special Collections, where they will complement materials such as the personal papers of Dorothy Chandler and Franklin D. Murphy, the records of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, the Mayor Tom Bradley Administration Papers and the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive. The department also provides public access to extensive photo collections, government and political records, oral histories, maps, and literary, performing and visual arts material documenting Southern California history, culture and commercial development. 

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