Posted by: catalinamuseum | 10/20/2009

Catalina Character: Alma Overholt

I have always said that Catalina Island is full of characters, and if you weren’t a character before you got here you will be one before you leave.  While hunting through the collections here at the museum I have found that some names pop-up more than others.  Not all names are of Wrigley fame however, many are of prominent locals who were the movers and the shakers of their time.  Some have made their mark on our collection by helping to record Catalina history so that future interns may reference their work while trying to answer research questions. 

One such individual is Ms. Alma Overholt.  Not a day goes by in the research center when I don’t run across her name – whether it is from an article in the Catalina Islander, the back of photo negative sleeves, or in the hundreds of sheets of paper left behind with her typed notes on them.  I have almost come to think of her as a great-aunt who always has something to say on every subject imaginable.  It wasn’t until today though that I found a photograph of her and am finally able to put a face to the name.

Alma Overholt (right) with daughter

Alma Overholt (right) with daughter, 1960

With a little digging I have learned a bit about Ms. Overholt’s life.  She was born in 1889 in Switzerland and her family moved to Southern California in 1894.  She became associated with the Island in 1919 when she headed the publicity for the opening of the St. Catherine Hotel.  Eventually she headed the publicity department of the Santa Catalina Island Company from the 1920s until WWII, and helped to bring in visitors from around the world with photos and news coverage of events.  Ms. Overholt wrote articles for the Catalina Islander covering the social happenings in Avalon and was also a correspondent for the Los Angeles Examiner.  She even published a book titled “The Catalina Story” which covers the history of the Island.  She married twice, had three children, and died in 1972.  And that would be Alma Overholt in a very small nutshell.

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