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California's Gold collection

Identifier: 2011-114-r-c

Scope and Contents

The collection is comprised largely of audiovisual materials created from 1985 through 2012 for various series, including California's Gold, Visiting with Huell Howser, California's Missions, Road Trip, and others. There are 7,758 raw footage, b-roll materials, edit master tapes, and broadcast air tapes. The media is mainly video, however there are CD's and DVD's throughout the collection.

Another large component of the collection are the production files, which were created and maintained by the Huell Howser Productions team. A file was created for each episode, which includes contact information for people and places featured in the show, production checklists, editing notes, episode synopses, research materials, correspondence, and photographs.

Lastly, objects, electronics, and furniture from the Huell Howser Productions office also help make up the collection.


  • 1971 - 2012

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Full episode air tapes have been digitized. A digital access copy is available for viewing on site or at

Conditions Governing Use

There are restrictions on the use of this material, please contact the archivist for the details. This collection contains previously copyrighted material and it is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all permissions.

Biographical / Historical

Huell Burnley Howser (1945-2013) was an American broadcast journalist best known for California's Gold, his travel show based in Los Angeles at KCET and aired on California public broadcast stations.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, and raised in Gallatin, Tennessee, Howser received a BS in Education from the University of Tennessee, and served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, as an aircraft mechanic. In 1971, Howser began working at WSM-TV in Nashville, Tennessee where he developed his interviewing style. He served as their Feature Director and Reporter of Special Projects and appeared live nightly on the six o’clock news. His assignments included the country music scene in Nashville, politics, human interest stories, and general news. Howser also produced television series focused on human interest stories such as Happy Features andThe Happy World of Huell Howser.

Howser also worked in New York before moving to Los Angeles in 1981 to work as a reporter for KCBS-TV. He served as a weekend host and correspondent for the show, Entertainment Tonight from 1981 to 1983. In 1985 he joined the public broadcast system affiliate KCET as a producer for the show Videolog. At KCET, Howser created California's Gold in 1991 and Visiting...with Huell Howser in 1993. Along with cameraman, Luis Fuerte, Howser sought untapped stories throughout the state.

By 2000, Howser's shows aired six nights a week and were watched by nearly one million viewers a week on KCET alone. In addition to local stations, his programs could be viewed on PBS stations in Hawaii, Oregon, Nevada, Tennesse, countless public access channels, and even the Armed Forces radio and Television Service. By 2012, Howser had produced nearly 1,500 programs chronicling the people and places of California. He announced his retirement on November 28, 2012. Howser passed away on January 7, 2013 at the age of 67 at his Palm Springs home.


347.25 Linear Feet (7,329 A/V materials, 52 boxes, 2 framed portraits, 2 desks, 2 chairs, 2 digital video cameras, 1 Beta tape player, 1 MiniDV tape player, 1 monitor, 1 flagpole)


Huell Howser was a broadcast journalist and television host most widely known for his television series, California's Gold, which ran on various California public television stations from 1991 through 2012. Originally from Tennessee, Howser arrived in Los Angeles in 1981, began working at KCET in 1985, and developed a travelog series that featured interesting people, businesses, and stories from across California. The collection consists of audiovisual materials, production research files, professional correspondence, press and publicity materials, photographs, ephemera and realia from the Huell Howser Production offices.


Creator's original order has been retained, whenever possible, and arranged into the following series:

Series 1, Audio/Video Tapes

Series 2, Production Files

Series 3, Production Ideas

Series 4, Correspondence, Organizations

Series 5, Correspondence, Fan Mail

Series 6, Appearances and Press

Series 7, Photographs and Graphic Materials

Series 8, Realia

Physical Location

B11B, Leatherby Libraries

Custodial History

In 2011, Huell Howser began talks with Chapman University regarding the donation of copies of the on-air episodes of his various PBS television series, including California's Gold, this led to his donation of the memorabilia he had collected from fans and his travels as well as the 1800 volume research library that his production staff had accrued, to the Leatherby Libraries.

During the discussions regarding this donation Howser decided to donate the tape raw footage that he had shot for his various California television series, his professional papers as well as a small personal book collection to the library. Collection materials were donated over a period of time, from 2012-2014.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Huell Howser Productions, 2012.

Related Materials

Huell Howser Papers, 2012.123.r.c.

California's Gold Memorial Collection, 2013.011.r.c

The Huell Howser Califonia's Gold Book Collection, Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives
Finding Aid for the "California's Gold" Collection
Angel Diaz
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives, Leatherby Libraries Repository

Chapman University
One University Drive
Orange 92866 USA US