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Special Collections

New exhibit, Picnic Day: A Century of Celebration, includes historic films

Picnic Day: A Century of Celebration
Exhibit on display during Spring and Summer Quarters in Special Collections Display Cases, Shields Library

The Special Collections Department of the University Library presents an exhibit highlighting a century of the University’s annual event, Picnic Day. This exhibit draws on materials from several University Archives collections including the Picnic Day Collection and the University Archives Photographs.

The Picnic Day tradition started on May 22, 1909 with a “Dedication Basket Picnic,” said to have been suggested by Mrs. Carolee Shields, wife of Peter J. Shields, to honor the opening of North Hall, the first dormitory on the campus of the University Farm (now the University of California, Davis). Peter J. Shields helped to write the legislation for the creation of the UC Davis campus and the main library building is named in his memory.

Picnic Day has since become the annual open house for the campus and has grown into one of the largest student-run events in the U.S.

As part of this exhibit Special Collections digitized three historic 16mm films of Picnic Day from 1939, 1947, and 1953. The 1939 film, recorded by Remi C. O’Connor, Class of 1941, contains the oldest known footage of campus. The films can be viewed here.

For more information or to share your memories of Picnic Day, please email Special Collections at speccoll@ucdavis.edu.

Join in the festivities for the 100th Picnic Day on Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Library will host an open house from 11-1.

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