The collection consists of photographs, typewritten manuscripts and a book that was used as both a visitors log for the shop and a scrapbook containing newspaper and magazine clippings, announcements and invitations to fashion shows. The manuscripts document Kemp's ideas relating to why she started the California Shop. Photographs document the shop, possibly in 1941. There are also the loose pages from the California Shop's guest/scrapbook. The first few pages consist of the guest book. The remaining pages contain clippings and ephemera in reverse chronological order, left in the order that Kemp maintained them. Also includes the wooden bookends of the guestbook, with a portion of a map of the Audencia of Guadalajara used as a cover illustration.
Materials are arranged as a single series.
Biographical / Historical:
Helen Misch Kemp, the owner of the California Shop, was born April 22, 1894 in New York to Moses and Jennie Misch. In 1936, Ms. Kemp moved to California where she was worked in the women's clothing trade. Having lived in New York all her life, she began to notice a distinction in the merchandise created in California. Upon her return to New York she opened the California Shop on November 15, 1938 at 677 Madison Avenue. Kemp's intention was to provide merchandise from California craftsmen to the eastern market. California at this time was gaining a reputation for dressing the American woman. Designers from the area, who were mostly women, were known for combining chic styles with a sense of comfort, a unique blend of colors and a fine attention to detail in their ladies apparel. Kemp took annual trips to California to select the best of the western market for her customers. The California Shop sold mostly women's clothing but also offered products such as preserves, copper household utensils, cookware, trays, wastebaskets, spice jars, wall pockets, flower containers, pottery and jewelry. The shop quickly gained a wide audience, and on October 15, 1940 it moved to 674 Madison Avenue, where it occupied a larger space. Kemp closed the shop in 1942 due to the difficulties in getting merchandise from California because of the war. Helen Kemp died on February 13, 1948 at the age of 54.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Reproduction permission from Archives Center: reproduction fees may apply. All duplication requests must be reviewed and approved by Archives Center staff.