LAPD: Dating an Early Photograph, Part I

LAPD Photo

An undated photo of LAPD officers from, which reposts images from all over the Internet (including mine), often without acknowledgement.

I recently learned that this photo, published in Capt. Art Sjoquist’s “History of the Los Angeles Police Department” as “The first Los Angeles Police Department, 1876” has been dated incorrectly.


LAPD 1876

Sjoquist’s “History of the Los Angeles Police Department,” published in 1984, is an outgrowth of Sjoquist’s 1972 master’s thesis “From Posses to Professionals: A History of the Los Angeles Police Department.”  Both of these volumes are essential research tools but hard to obtain, particularly “History of the Los Angeles Police Department,” which is almost impossible to find at any price.  (The Los Angeles Public Library index lists both books).

Glynn Martin, executive director of the Los Angeles Police Museum, has done more recent research that questions the traditional date of this photo. Martin notes that a copy of the picture is displayed at the museum with a plaque reading “LAPD First Paid Officers, 1869.”

In his 2006 blog post, Martin says that one of the officers in the photo has been identified as H.W. Marden, who wore Badge No. 21.


LAPD Photo Above, Officer Henry W. Marden in an image taken from the group photo. At right, Marden in a photo dated 1889, courtesy of the Los Angeles Police Museum. lapd_hw_marden_nd

As best as I can determine, the photo of the six officers was taken between 1887 and 1888.

Here’s the first part of my research, which tells us the following:

First of all, the men are wearing the Series 1 badge. Sjoquist’s history indicates that the badge was in use from 1869 until it was replaced by the Series 2 badge in 1890. A collector says that they were in use from 1876 to 1890. Either way, the Series 1 badges indicate the photo was taken no later than 1890.

Now for Police Officer Henry W. Marden, whom we find in the 1894 Los Angeles City Directory, courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library:



The Times reported on March 27, 1901, that Marden resigned from the LAPD after 14 years with the department:

Marden Resigns, March 27, 1901.

He is mentioned in a Dec. 8, 1887, story in the Herald.

Dec. 9, 1887, Marden

And further research reveals that he was a Civil War veteran who died in 1909 at the age of 68. He is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

Los Angeles Herald, July 15, 1909.

Veterans Administration records show that he was a private in Company B of the 25th Wisconsin Infantry.

Courtesy of

To be continued.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1901, Found on EBay, LAPD, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to LAPD: Dating an Early Photograph, Part I

  1. Anthony says:

    This information about the early LAPD is very interesting. Thanks


  2. lapd23713 says:

    Larry-First time seeing this, thanks for publishing. The photograph of the six standing officers appears in the 1937 LAPD yearbook, “The Guardian.” At that time the photo description was for the early uniforms. As your research showe, HW Marden was the father of Leo and Reo Marden. Leo later became an LAPD officer and worked with our first Policewoman, Alice Stebbins Wells.

    Glynn Martin


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