Researchers worldwide soon will have access to previously inaccessible collections of documents, photographs and other rich archival materials related to California's environmental history.
The University of California's California Digital Library (CDL), in partnership with nine California institutions, has been awarded a competitive grant to catalog 33 collections documenting a range of important issues — including irrigation, mining, forestry, agriculture, industry, land use, activism and research — in the state's environmental history. Until now, these collections have been effectively hidden to researchers who have not known of their existence or contents.
Highlights from the collections include the corporate records of Unocal, a major oil company; the papers of Frank Sherwood Rowland, the Nobel prize-winning scientist who discovered the effects of CFCs on the ozone layer; the records of prominent California leaders in the Sierra Club; and materials on the state's tidelands controversy, with a complete environmental profile of Los Angeles Harbor.
Scholars in California and beyond are excited about the many research possibilities that the collections hold. "They will shed light on the interdependence between nature and culture in California's recent environmental past," says professor John Mack Faragher of Yale University.
The CDL will collaborate with the following institutions to arrange and describe the collections for scholarly use, then make the records available online in the Online Archive of California and library catalogs:
- California State University, Chico
- California State University, Fresno
- Humboldt State University
- UC Berkeley
- UC Davis
- UC Irvine
- UC Riverside
- University of Southern California
The project is particularly exciting because it is a collaborative effort across universities to uncover a bulk of material. While each institution will independently undertake the cataloging work, CDL will host tools, training and a virtual meeting space to promote the exchange of ideas and advance the archival profession's approach to uncovering hidden collections.
The Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by Council for Library and Information Resources, totals $446,817. More information about the grant: www.clir.org/hiddencollections/index.html.
About the California Digital Library (CDL)
Established in 1997, the CDL is a leading innovator in the digital libraries field, a trusted repository for digital assets, and a collaborator with partners throughout the UC system and beyond. We serve students, scholars and the general public throughout the state, the country and the world. See www.cdlib.org for more information.