The records of the California Shop, a shop specializing in West Coast decorative arts located in New York City, New York.
Scope and Contents note:
Collection consists of a bound volume used as both a log of visitors to the shop and a scrapbook containing newspaper clippings, ephemera, magazine articles, announcements, and invitations to fashion shows. The first few pages of the volume are the guest book. The remaining pages were used as the scrapbook and is in reverse chronological order. There are also loose pages from the volume and its wooden covers, with a portion of a map of the Audencia of Guadalajara used as the cover illustration. Of particular interest are the typewritten manuscripts documenting Kemp's ideas for starting the California Shop. In addition, there are photographs of the shop, possibly in 1941, and Helen Kemp.
Materials are arranged as a single series.
Biographical / Historical:
Helen Misch Kemp opened the California Shop on November 15, 1938 at 677 Madison Avenue in New York City. Kemp was born April 22, 1894 in New York to Moses and Jennie Misch but had moved to California in 1936 where she worked in the women's clothing trade. Some time later she moved back to New York and noticed a distinction between the clothing and merchandise created in California as opposed to what was being offered in New York. California was also gaining a reputation in the fashion industry for its women designers who were combining chic styles, comfort, and unique colors for the American female market. Armed with a keen eye for fashion and shrewd business sense Kemp opened her shop to provide California craftsmanship to an eastern market. Kemp took annual trips to California to select what she considered was the best for her customers. While the California Shop sold mostly women's clothing it also offered products such as preserves, copper household utensils, cookware, trays, wastebaskets, spice jars, wall pockets, flower containers, pottery, and jewelry. On October 15, 1940, the shop moved to 674 Madison Avenue, where it occupied a larger space. Kemp closed her shop in 1942 due to war time difficulties in getting merchandise from California. Helen Kemp died on February 13, 1948, at the age of fifty-four.
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
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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. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.