Special Collections

Posts by Sara Gunasekara

50 Features of Special Collections: Sanfield Papers and Hunold Collection

July 22nd, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara


As the 31st Sierra Storytelling Festival takes place in Nevada City, California this weekend, we decided to feature two of our collections that are related to the annual event.

An author and phenomenal storyteller,  Steve Sanfield founded the Sierra Storytelling Festival in 1985 and served as its director until his retirement in 2002. He was also the author of more than thirty books, including The Adventures of High John the Conqueror, Bit by Bit, The Great Turtle Drive, and A Natural Man: The True Story of John Henry, among others.

The Steve Sanfield Papers contains files related to the Sierra Storytelling Festival, as well as personal journals, manuscripts, correspondence, publications, audio tapes, and ephemera relating to his life and career.

In 1988, photographer Ray Hunold accompanied his wife, Bernice, to the Sierra Storytelling Festival where they met Sanfield. When a hired photographer did not show up, Ray Hunold was asked to step in and shoot photographs for the Festival’s files. He then became the official photographer for the Sierra Storytelling Festival from 1988 through 2002. He also served as the photographer for the National Festival of Storytelling in Jonesboro, Tennessee.

The Raymond Hunold Photograph Collection contains over 70,000 images documenting the resurgence of storytelling in the United States as an art form.  Another aspect of the collection is his work as a nature and travel photographer which includes subjects such as San Francisco city scenes, western flora and fauna, Native American sites, and national parks and monuments.

You can find out more about the Hunold Collection via the web exhibit here.


Steve Sanfield, director, surrounded by his storytellers, by Ray Hunold.

Steve Sanfield, director, surrounded by his storytellers, by Ray Hunold.

Entrance to the outdoor stage, Sierra Storytelling Festival, 1989. Photograph by Ray Hunold.

Entrance to the outdoor stage, Sierra Storytelling Festival, 1989. Photograph by Ray Hunold.


50 Features of Special Collections: Colby E. “Babe” Slater Collection

July 15th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara



Since this is our 50th golden anniversary, it is only fitting that our next feature is the collection of UC Davis’ first Olympic gold medalist, Colby E. “Babe” Slater.


Colby E. “Babe” Slater (1896-1965) graduated from the University Farm School (now UC Davis) in 1917. An outstanding athlete, Slater played on the U.S. Olympic rugby team and won gold medals for rugby in 1920 and 1924, when he served as captain of the team. The 1924 Olympic Games were the last to feature rugby – until now. Rugby returns to the Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro.


In celebration of rugby’s return to the Olympic Games after a 92 year hiatus, we’ve created an exhibit and a website highlighting the Slater Collection, which includes correspondence, publications, ephemera, and photographs from his participation in the Olympics Games. You can view the exhibit on display in Shields Library and the website at slater.lib.ucdavis.edu


Additionally, the Library will host a special celebration of the legacy of Babe Slater on July 30. Event and rsvp details are available here.


Colby E. “Babe” Slater, third from left, plays in the gold medal rugby match at the 1924 Olympics.

Colby E. “Babe” Slater, third from left, plays in the gold medal rugby match at the 1924 Olympics.

Event announcement: Doing Ethnic Studies Research with Special Collections

May 11th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Please join us for this program:

Professor Richard Kim from the UC Davis Asian American Studies Department will be speaking on his forthcoming book, Freedom without Justice, which draws on the papers of the influential investigative reporter Kyung Won Lee. The Kyung Won Lee Papers are in Special Collections and also online through the Online Archive of California.

Daryl Morrison, Head of Special Collections will introduce Professor Kim’s presentation, which underscores the importance of Special Collections and the work it does in facilitating contemporary research.

Event details:

Professor Richard Kim

Thursday May 19, 2016

3:00-4:30 PM

Library Instruction Room, Room 205

Peter J. Shields Library

UC Davis

This event, organized by LAUC-D, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

Congratulations to Professor Dolan

May 11th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Congratulations to UC Davis English Professor Frances Dolan on receiving the 2016 Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement! Special Collection was pleased to support the research and instruction needs of Professor Dolan. We were also gratified to highlight 17-19th century books from Special Collections at the Teaching Award gala dinner and be featured in the video about her activities.

Here are examples of the books she has used in Special Collections:

Blith, Walter,active 1649.:  The English improver improved;or, The svrvey of hvsbandry svrveyed, discovering the improueableness of all lands .All clearly demonstrated from principles of reason, ingenuity, and late, but most real experiences; and held forth … under six peeces of improvement (London, Printed for J. Wright, 1652).  S509 .B6 1652.

Garrick, David,1717-1779.: Catherine and Petruchio :a comedy /altered from Shakespeare by David Garrick ….( London : Printed by R. Butters …, [ca. 1785]). PR2832.A2 G37 1800

Livingston  (Mrs.):    Love each other, or, Strive to be good :stories designed to advance the young in virtue and morality /by Mrs. Livingston.. (Lowell : S. Wilkins, 1854). PS3523.I96 L68 1854

Plat, Hugh,1552-1608.: The jewel house of art and nature: containing divers rare and profitable inventions, together with sundry new experiments in the art of husbandry. With divers chimical conclusions concerning the art of distillation, and the rare practises and uses thereof. By D.B. Gent. (London:  Printed by Bernard Alsop …, 1653). T44 .P7 1653

Shakespeare, William,1564-1616.: Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.Published according to the true Originall copies..The Second Impression. (London, Printed by Tho. Cotes, for Robert Allot, and are to be sold at the signe of the Blacke Beare in Pauls Church-yard. 1632). Oversize PR2751 .A2

Topsell, Edward,1572-1625?: The history of four-footed beasts and serpents…Collected out of the writings of Conradus Gesner and other authors, by Edward Topsel. by T. Muffet…. (London, Printed by E. Cotes, for G. Sawbridge [etc.] 1658) Oversize QL41 .T68

Woolley, Hannah, active 1670.: The queen-like closet, or, Rich cabinet :stored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying & cookery : very pleasant and beneficial to all ingenious persons of the female sex /by Hannah Wolley. (London : Printed for R. Lowndes …, 1670). Noling TX705 .W6 1670

Worlidge, John, active 1669-1698.: Systema agriculturæ :the mystery of husbandry discovered : treating of the several new and most advantagious ways of tilling, planting, sowing … all sorts of gardens, orchards, meadows … & coppices : as also of fruits, corn, grain … cattle, fowl, beasts, bees, silk-worms, &c. : with an account of the several instruments and engines used in this profession : to which is added Kalendarum rusticum, or, The husbandmans monthly directions : also … Dictionarium rusticum, or, The interpretation of rustick terms … /published for the common good by J. W. gent..  (London : Printed by J. C. for Thomas Dring, 1675) S509 .W92 1675

Worlidge, John, active 1669-1698.: Vinetum britannicum, or, A treatise of cider, and other wines and drinks extracted from fruits growing in the kingdom :to which is added, a discourse teaching the best way of improving bees.. (London : T. Dring, 1691).  SF525 .W8


Happy 100th Birthday, Yolo Causeway!

May 11th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

One hundred years ago this week, the Yolo Causeway was dedicated in a four day celebration which lasted from May 11-14, 1916.

When it was completed in 1916, the Yolo Causeway became a vital link in the California state highway system because it was the first all year, all weather automobile bridge across the Yolo Basin between Sacramento and Davis. At 3.1 miles long, 20 feet high and 21 feet wide, it was said to be the longest concrete highway in the world at that time.

Prior to completion of the Yolo Causeway, travel between Davis and Sacramento took place on the “Tule Jake Road.” Travel on the “Tule Jake Road,” which replaced the earlier Yolo Plankroad Turnpike, usually only occurred after the rainy season had finished.

On July 21, 1914 the contract for the causeway was awarded to Graft Construction Company of Seattle, Washington and work began on September 11, 1914. 13,851 concrete piles, measuring fourteen inches square, thirty five feet long, and reinforced with steel, were used in the causeway construction which cost $396,000.

The official May 1916 dedication was preceded by semi-official events on March 18-19, 1916. Sacramento had planned to open the causeway with a parade of cars on Sunday, May 19. However, Yolo County Supervisor W.O. Russell wanted Yolo County to claim that honor. According to the Weekly Agricola newspaper:

“By a two hour campaign of telephoning Saturday afternoon permission was secured to open this unit of the State highway that night. The opportunity was too great to be neglected. By seven o’clock every automobile in town and at the Farm [University Farm, now UC Davis] was filled with people and waiting at the corner of First and Olive for the impromptu parade to start. Then started a long procession of over thirty machines over this wonderful causeway road. Official permits opened all gates. Sacramento was soon reached and the parade wound its way through the business section with the band at its head, playing form a large truck, and accompanied by the deafening noises from bells, horns and lusty throats.”

Local resident and Chairman of the Yolo Causeway Committee, George W. Pierce, described the March 18 events in his diary:

“Sue phoned that Davis was going to send a large auto delegation across the new Yolo-Basin causeway, the first to make the trip – took the boys, Gardner and Herbert, Miss Peters, cook, Sue, Mrs Fizzell, Senior and Junior.  Two Farm boys rode on running board –  It rained hard, beginning before we left Davis.  Breuner met us with truck for our band. We were entertained at Hotel Sacramento.  W. O Russell and myself spoke from balcony.”

Pierce’s diary also contains entries related to his planning efforts for the May celebration.

The program for the four day celebration began on Thursday, May 11 with concerts and athletic programs in Sacramento. It concluded at 10pm with a stunt by Frank Steinbacher, known as “The Human Fly,” who made a daredevil slide on a cable stretched between the dome of the California Capitol and the top of the Pacific Gas and Electric Building.

Children’s Day activities on Friday included a parade of 12,000 schoolchildren, a concert by 2500 school children, folk dances, Shakespearian scenes, and fireworks.

Saturday’s events started at 9am when the Yolo County part of the parade formed at the University Farm and crossed the causeway, led by Governor Johnson and state highway commissioners and engineers. The parade traveled through Sacramento to the Capitol where an “allegorical wedding” of the East and West sides of the Sacramento Valley was held. Miss West Side (Bernice Worley of Yolo County) was “married” to Mr. East Side (John Murray of Sacramento County) by Associate Justice E.C. Hart. Other day’s events included boxing at the Riverside baths and an aquatic program that featured a motorboat competition on the Sacramento River

The festivities ended on Sunday with athletic programs and bicycle races at the State Fairgrounds.

At the conclusion of the celebration, a Sacramento Union headline proclaimed, “100,000 Enchanted by Causeway Pageant.”

The image below, a postcard of the Yolo Causeway, is from circa 1920. Historic images of the Yolo Causeway from the collections of the California State Library and the Center for Sacramento History are available on the Sacramento History Online website.

Happy 100th Birthday, Yolo Causeway!

The Great Yolo Basin Trestle, bridges three miles of marsh lands and unites the east and west sides of Sacramento Valley. The Yolo Basin, a vast marshy district extends from a point 15 miles north of Marysville, south for a distance of over 120 miles. The basin is flooded annually for a period of from six to eight months, and prior to the construction of the Trestle in 1916, the Capitol City was practically isolated from the market center of California by vehicle, as only during the summer months were the lands dried out sufficiently to permit travel, by what was known as the "Tule Jake" road. Sacramento, Calif. : Frank McCougal, [ca. 1920]

Postcard caption:

The Great Yolo Basin Trestle, bridges three miles of marsh lands and unites the east and west sides of Sacramento Valley. The Yolo Basin, a vast marshy district extends from a point 15 miles north of Marysville, south for a distance of over 120 miles. The basin is flooded annually for a period of from six to eight months, and prior to the construction of the Trestle in 1916, the Capitol City was practically isolated from the market center of California by vehicle, as only during the summer months were the lands dried out sufficiently to permit travel, by what was known as the “Tule Jake” road.

Postcard published by Frank McCougal, Sacramento, Calif., circa 1920.

Pass It On: Preservation Week, April 24-30, 2016

April 25th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Preservation Week, a presentation of the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), is a national campaign to help raise awareness about collecting and preservation, to connect the general public to preservation information and expertise, and to emphasize the close relationships among personal, family, community, and public collections and their preservation.

Events during the week include two free webinars. The webinars, which require registration, will each begin at 11 a.m. PDT and will last about one hour. To register and learn more go to ALCTS events.

The webinars are:.

From Cassette to Cloud: Reformatting Audiotape, Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Description:  Oral histories can provide a wealth of information about individual and community life. This webinar explores ways these recordings can be digitized, and the challenges in doing so.

For additional information and access to the free registration links, please go to the following website: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/042616


Preserving Your Digital Life, Thursday, April 28, 2016

Description: Many of us record and keep personal and family stories in digital formats. This webinar explores steps to take now to for preserving these narratives for future generations. means considering how we create the files and how we store them. What steps can we take now to make the ensure the best possibility of retaining these important files into the future?


For additional information and access to free registration links, please go to the following website: http://www.ala.org/alcts/confevents/upcoming/webinar/042816

These webinars are primarily intended for individuals, but will also be of interest to local historical societies and other cultural heritage groups.


Visit Special Collections during Picnic Day Open House

April 13th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Special Collections will be participating in Picnic Day as part of the Library’s Open House which is Saturday April 16, 2016 from 10am-2pm. We’ll be featuring several of our exhibits including:

Come visit us on Picnic Day so that you can see how the past and present collide!


Exhibit for April: Diamond Jubilee of the Shields Library Building: 1940-2015

March 28th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

The year 2015 marked 75 years since the building, now known as the Peter J. Shields Library, opened.

Now through April 2016, Special Collections presents an expanded version of our previous exhibit, Diamond Jubilee of the Shields Library Building: 1940-2015. The exhibit, located in the cases in front of Special Collections, features highlights of the main library building drawing on materials from several University Archives collections including the University Archives Photographs.

Do you know which Sacramento buildings were designed by the same architects as the north wing of the Library? What happened to the Library during World War II? How long was the construction of the west wing? Stop by the exhibit to find out the answers to these questions and more!

North wing of the Library, circa 1940

North wing of the Library, circa 1940


On This Day: Planting the Centennial Tree on March 28, 1968

March 28th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

Today’s On This Day post take us to March 28, 1968 and the dedication of the centennial tree. In the image below from the University Archives Photographs, Chancellor Emil Mrak and Vera Mrak planted a magnolia tree at Howard Way and Russell Boulevard to commemorate the centennial of the founding of the University of California and the 63rd anniversary of the act of the Legislature establishing the University Farm.

Planting the centennial tree, March 28, 1968

Planting the centennial tree, March 28, 1968




Apples for Johnny Appleseed Day

March 11th, 2016 by Sara Gunasekara

In celebration of Johnny Appleseed Day today, here is an image from the Ellen Schutt Pomological Watercolors. Ellen Isham Schutt (1873-1955) was an illustrator with the United States Department of Agriculture who was active from 1904-1914. This collection contains 286 original watercolors of fruits, mostly apples, rendered by Schutt for the University of California. The watercolors illustrate examples of a variety of conditions including cold storage, core rot, injury damage, and moth damage, among others. The apples are usually shown in two views: a full view and a half section. The watercolors are available online here.

Ben Davis, Mendocino Co., California, 1915 July.

Ben Davis, Mendocino Co., California, 1915 July.