Department Blog

Special Collections

The First Picnic Day

March 30th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

In the spirit of this year’s Picnic Day theme, we’ll “rewind” to the first Picnic Day.

The first “Dedication Basket Picnic” was held May 22, 1909 to honor the opening of North Hall, the first dormitory. The event drew an estimated 3,000 people by train, horse and wagon, or automobile.

Festivities included introductory remarks by Leroy Anderson, Superintendent of the University Farm, English and Spanish Ballads sung by Mrs. Mary Roberts Coolidge, a dedicatory address by Edward J. Wickson, Dean of the College of Agriculture, and additional addresses by H.A. Jastro, President of the State Agricultural Society and Benjamin Ide Wheeler, President of the University of California. Tables were arranged in the Dairy Barn for the basket picnic and guests were advised to “bring a cup and spoon, since coffee with cream and sugar will be served by the University.”

Materials in Special Collections related to Picnic Day include: the Picnic Day Collection which contains  programs, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the event and the Picnic Day Board of Directors Archives which contains reports from the various Picnic Day Directors such as Chairperson, Animal Events, Exhibits, and Parking. Historic photographs from Picnic Day can be found in the University Archives Photographs.

Below is an image of the front page of the 1909 Picnic Day program.

Front page, Picnic Day program, 1909

Charter Day

March 28th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

Charter Day, officially March 23, the day on which in 1868 Governor Henry H. Haight signed the legislative act creating the University of California, was first celebrated in 1874 when University President Daniel C. Gilman declared a University holiday,

From 1874 to 1891, the celebration of Charter Day was sponsored by the students. A morning program included student oratory, poetry and musical performances, as well as an address from a faculty member, while the afternoon was devoted to dancing. In 1892, the event became a formal, academic ceremony and included a speaker from outside the University as the main attraction of the exercises.

As the University expanded, Charter Day was extended into “Charter Week,” with each campus holding a celebration of its own. However, the practice of declaring a University holiday ended after 1931. The first Charter Day celebration held on the Davis campus occurred on March 25, 1938 with a speech by Claude B. Hutchison, Dean of the College of Agriculture.

Below is a photograph of Charter Day exercises at Davis in 1959.

Charter Day

Moving from Hunt Hall to Recreation Hall for Charter Day ceremonies at Davis, the academic procession passes under one of the cork oak trees lining the Quad. Next behind the color guard are (left to right) President Emeritus Robert Gordon Sproul, the Rev. Ray Dugger, Chancellor Stanley B. Freeborn, Vice President Harry R. Wellman, Regent Howard C. Naffziger, Regent John S. Watson, and Dean Donald M. Jasper of the School of Veterinary Medicine, 1959 March 24

A Belated Happy 143rd Birthday to the University of California!

UCD Serials and Publications

March 23rd, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

As we mentioned in our last post, Special Collections is the repository for the University Archives. It is our role to preserve the University of California, Davis’ history by maintaining a record of UC Davis publications. The University Archives attempts to collect two copies of each publication, one for permanent preservation in the Archives and one for public use.

Titles are cataloged in the Harvest Library Catalog and available for use in the Special Collections Reading Room.

The University Archives Serials Collection contains serials produced by departments, committees, and groups at the University of California, Davis. Examples of serials include newsletters, announcements, magazines, annuals, and yearbooks. Click here to see a list of the UCD serial publications that we hold.

The University Publications Collection contains non serial publications produced by departments, committees, and groups at the University of California, Davis. Examples of these publications include histories of departments and groups, reports, guides, and plans. Click here to see a list of the UCD publications that we hold.

Help us make our holdings complete! Do you have publications in either of these categories that you could send to us for the University Archives? Contact Collections Manager Sara Gunasekara ( for directions on how to submit publications to the University Archives.

Transferring Records to the University Archives

March 14th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

Special Collections is the repository for the University Archives and collects the non-current records of historical value for the University. We welcome historical archives and records from the administrative offices, campus organizations, and student groups.

Our website provides guidelines that are intended to assist in identifying files that are appropriate for transfer to Special Collections. Do you have materials for the University Archives? Contact John Skarstad, University Archivist, at (530) 752‑1628 or

Please remember that the University Archives will only have a record of your activities if you submit materials to Special Collections. Please deposit a historical record of your activities.

Bike Barn started 40 years ago

March 14th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

This winter marks 40 years since the founding of the Bike Barn.

Below is an excerpt from the February 1971 UCD Spectator article titled: “Bike Repair Shop Earns Approval:”

“An ASUCD bicycle repair shop providing students with a facility in which to repair their own bikes has been approved by the Legislative Assembly.

The project, piloted through planning stages and before the assembly by Vice President Duke Armstrong, provides for a manager, supplies, expenses and operation on a trial basis during the winter quarter. At the end of the quarter the assembly transportation committee will review and recommend to the full body whether the shop should be continued.”

Congratulations on 40 years to the Bike Barn!

Wireless on campus — in 1916

March 7th, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

The following is an excerpt from an article titled, “Student Installs Wireless on Farm” in the March 1, 1916 Weekly Agricola:

“Loyal D. Mealer ’17 who has been quietly installing a wireless telegraphy outfit on the tank house at the Farm, now states that his work has been successful and he is receiving many long distance messages. The wireless has been in operation for several days now, and some of the long distance messages picked up are from Honolulu, San Diego, North Head, Washington, British Columbia, and Ketchikan, Alaska. Many messages from stations closer to home have also been received.”

Happy Birthday Peace Corps

March 1st, 2011 by Sara Gunasekara

March 1 marks the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy signing Executive Order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis.

Did you know that training sessions for some of the first Peace Corps volunteers were conducted on the UC Davis campus? According to the Centennial Record of the University of California: “the training of volunteers to serve in particular areas and countries was provided by the University in accordance with annual or program-long contracts with the Peace Corps. Faculty members for individual sessions were drawn from area experts on the University campuses, from visiting professors, and at times from returned Peace Corps veterans.” From 1963-1965, five 12 week courses in agriculture and nutrition were held at UC Davis for volunteers who would serve in India.