The Los Angeles Review of Books is proud to present a new short documentary from LA-based filmmaker Alec Ernest. “Living History: The John Feathers Map Collection” is the the story of an extraordinary hidden treasure and a glimpse into the reclusive soul that protected it for years.

The story begins with Glen Creason, Map Librarian at Los Angeles Central Library and author of Los Angeles in Maps, who recounts his experience in October 2012 when a real estate agent rang him about a soon-to-be-demolished house in Mt. Washington that was “full of maps”. Thinking he’d find a box of National Geographics at best, Creason reluctantly set out for the house. But once he arrived he discovered so many precious maps that he had to return with a truck and an army of volunteers to cart them away.

An unknown collector named John Feathers had recently passed away at the house without bequeathing the maps, which included rare and well-preserved first editions of Renie guides, Gillespie guides, and Thomas Brothers guides. Creason’s boss told him to take everything, and so the library came upon the biggest coup in its history, doubling its map collection in a single day. Three years later and the maps are still being sorted, but this new video unearths some of the first footage of these historical gems. Set against a beautiful score from composer Aaron Stein-Chester, this film tells a one-of-a-kind story and examines the emotional and historical power of physical maps, as well as their meditative beauty.

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Alec Ernest is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles.