The letters in the chapters that follow are reprinted exactly as they 

appeared in the Times.  Even when a thought was not clearly stated, the letter 

is still copied in its entirety.  Misspelled words and missing punctuation 

marks remain unaltered inasmuch as it is impossible to tell whether the error 

was made by the author or the typesetter.  Since most errors are not 

significant enough to cause the reader difficulty in understanding the 

writer's intent, they stand as written, without the use of sic.  

    Where absolutely necessary, the present editor has inserted a correction 

at the appropriate place within the letter using this style of bracket  

{-Ed.}.  That bracket was also used if a portion of the letter was 

{illegible}.  Brackets of this sort [ ] within a letter or in the editorial 

postscript at the end of the correspondence were inserted by the Times editor.  

Where ( ) was used, it was either so written by the letter's author or 

inserted by the paper's editor.

    The date that a letter appeared in the Times is inserted in this type of 

bracket and in this form:  {Times, Jan. 4, 1886, p. 3}  It appears above the 

reprint of the letter.  The letter's title, which appears just below the date 

of the paper, is the title the Times editor put on the letter.

    For various reasons, this anthology was prepared using Wordstar, a now 

obsolete software program.  In order to more easily put the text on the web 

site, it had to be converted to ascii.  In so doing, several features were 

lost: italics, bold face, etc.  Perhaps in the future the Wordstar version can 

be distilled easily into a form that will permit those features to be saved, 

at which time they will replace this version.

    Each chapter is written with the assumption that you have already read 

the preceding chapters and general introduction.  Consequently, some names 

will be mentioned without any identification since they have appeared earlier 

in the volume.

    Only the opening introductory chapter is footnoted.  For the most part 

the historical material included in the subsequent chapter and letter 

introductions is from recognized sources and is therefore not footnoted.  The 

date and page number, however, appear on all letters.

    No attempt has been made to sanitize the letters.  "Nigger Alley" has not 

been translated to "Negro Alley," although it should be noted that the city 

council minutes used the latter term, nor is the writer who used the pseudonym 

"A Chinaman" renamed "Asian American."  

    One of the great features of a cyberbook is that errors, whatever their 

nature, are not permanent.  {How many scholars and students, having read in 

Glenn Dumke's "Boom of the Eighties" that Santa Fe and the Southern Pacific 

engaged in a fare war that cut the cost of cross-country tickets to a dollar 

in 1887, have repeated the error in his date?}  Readers are encouraged - 

URGED! - to report errors, factual or otherwise, that they find in this 

anthology.  Keep in mind that errors in the letters have been intentionally 

left there, although it is possible that a few mistakes at the computer 

keyboard have imposed on our correspondents of the 1880s some grammatical 

errors for which they are not responsible.  The more likely problem is that 

factual mistakes occur in the introductions.  If so, please report them to 

this e-mail address:

or to:

    Ralph E. Shaffer
    History Dept.
    Cal Poly Pomona
    Pomona, CA 91768

    In addition, if a reader can identify any of the anonymous letter 

writers, and one reader already has, or wishes to offer a comment about any of 

the material covered in the anthology, please do so at either of the above 


    At some point in the near future, an additional section will be added to 

this anthology: an index to all {or as many as have been found} of the letters 

printed in the Times, 1881-1889.  Comprised of well over 2000 letters, it will 

actually be a three part index: by date, by author and by subject.  In the 

long run, that may turn out to be the most valuable part of this project.  

Until that time, scholars researching Los Angeles in the 1880s are welcome to 

use the above addresses to inquire if there are letters that might be of value 

to them.  {Postscript: all three indexes are now part of this anthology.}

    And now to the letters.  If you are a casual reader rather than a scholar 

who has a special interest in a particular topic, you might prefer to begin 

with either of the two "Miscellaneous" chapters or "Crazy Shaw," all of which 

are near the end of the volume.  Otherwise, pick the topic that appeals to you 

and click on it.

    Thanks to "Tara," Emily Bennet, Jesse Butler, Ralph Hoyt, Frederick M. 

Shaw, J. C. Sherer and all their fellow Angeleno correspondents of the 1880s, 

who have left us an indispensable look at life in Los Angeles during that 

exciting decade.  In the future no one will be able to write authoritatively 

about the city as it then existed without consulting them.