Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
InfoGuides | Pepperdine Libraries

Malibu History: Home

A Guide to the Malibu Historical Collection

Welcome to The Malibu Historical Collection



Welcome to the InfoGuide for the Malibu Historical Collection. The purpose of this InfoGuide is to provide students, faculty, scholars, and community members with a comprehensive description of materials available in the Collection. Textual materials include business records, personal and business correspondence, directories, meeting minutes, memoranda, newsletters, and reports, local newspapers, books and manuscripts that document the history of Malibu as a region and a growing community from its earliest days to the present time. Audio-visual materials and electronic records as well as photographs, maps, architectural and landscape plans, drawings, and other digital images provide a rich resource for research on topics like Native American life, Spanish land-grant properties, ranching, transportation development (especially railroads and highways), equestrian activities, natural disasters, surfing and surf culture, celebrity culture, city development, and coastal water issues.  

The Inception of Malibu

How Malibu Got Its Name  

The source is a combination of Native American words mali + wu,  which mean “where the mountains meet the sea”  and the Chumash composite word Humaliwo, which means "the surf sounds loudly." 

Earliest Known Peoples

The area of 17,000 acres that comprises the original Rancho Malibu was probably settled in the late Pleistocene era by 'Oak Grove People,' who were gatherers of shellfish. They were followed by the 'Hunting People' in pre-historic times. Finally, the "Channel People' emerged as the canalino, part of the original Chumash Native American tribe. They were especially important for creating the tomol boat seen here with red painted exterior and room for several persons.


Significant Dates in Early Malibu History

1542 First record of Spanish exploration by Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo in Bay of Santa Monica

1775 Jose Bartolome Tapia came to California [settled in San Jose], eventually to Malibu

ca. 1800 Tapia granted use of land [Malibu acres] for grazing stock by local governor in name of King

1848 Dona Maria Tapia sold 14,000 acres to Leon Victor Prudhomme; Prudhomme could not prove “rights” to domain

1857 Don Mateo Keller [Matthew] bought the property for 10 cents an acre during Panic of 1857

1892 Frederick Hastings Rindge bought “the farm” from Henry Keller for $10. an acre

1898  Happy Days in Southern California by Rindge published in Cambridge and Los Angeles

     It took a full day to drive to Malibu from Ocean Avenue by oxcart/buggy along shoreline

1903 Great Fire in Malibu took the ranch house and everything from mountains to shore

1905 Frederick Rindge died and left May Knight Rindge to be “Queen of the Malibu”

      During her remaining years, Mrs. Rindge spent their fortune fighting a public road through the Malibu.

1929 Opening of the coast road, public access highway 101 A [Pacific Coast Highway] through Malibu 

1940  May Knight Rindge, "The Queen of the Malibu" dies at the age of 76. 

1942 May's land and thousands of Malibu Potteries tiles are sold to the Franciscan Order for $50,000

1946  Reeves D. Templeman established a weekly newspaper, The Malibu Times

Source: Malibu Complete: Malibu History

Special Collections Assistant

Brendan Morris's picture
Brendan Morris
(310) 506-4836