Anthropologist finds 'hobo graffiti' from 1914

Posted at 8:54 AM, May 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-31 09:40:09-04
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Anthropologist Susan Phillips has spent a career examining the graffiti that covers urban walls, bridges and freeway overpasses.
But the Pitzer College professor was stunned when she came across a peculiar, almost extinct form of American hieroglyphics known as hobo graffiti. The itinerant wanderers from the 19th and 20th centuries traveled from town to town in search of brief work and lasting adventure.
The writings and drawings, some dating to 1914, were written with utensils like grease pencils or etched into the concrete under a 103-year-old bridge spanning the Los Angeles River. 
Phillips found them while researching her book, "Wallbangin': Graffiti and Gangs in LA."
Now, with a grant from the Getty Center, she is working on another book, this one examining a century of Los Angeles graffiti. 

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