Department Blog

Special Collections

On This Day: March 4, 1972

March 4th, 2015 by Sara Gunasekara

Today’s feature in our On This Day series takes us back to the March 4, 1972 dedication of Roessler Hall. Edward B. Roessler (1902-1993) taught on the Davis campus from 1933 until his retirement in 1970. In addition to holding a Professorship in Mathematics, he served as Chairman of the Department of Mathematics and Physics, Chairman of the Department of Mathematics, and Acting Dean of the College of Letters and Science. He also served as Dean of University Extension.

Roessler Hall houses two lecture halls and classrooms which are predominantly used by the Physics Department.



February 20th, 2015 by Jenny Hodge


If you mustache, YES we have Aggie Pride and the University Archives! Gunrock the original school mascot has also joined in on showing his #GoAgs spirit. Today the familiar blue Aggie mascot is of Gunrock the mustang, however, the original campus mascot was a Thoroughbred named Gunrock. In the 1920’s the student body voted to make him the official mascot for the campus.  Special Collections houses the Library’s rare books, manuscript collections, University Archives, and other noncirculating research materials.


Gerome shows his Aggie Pride

February 20th, 2015 by Sara Gunasekara

For Aggie Pride Friday, Gerome decided to wear his Aggie Pride mustache while highlighting one of our oldest pieces of University memorabilia. This University Farm pennant, circa 1920, is from the McKinnon and Ruble Families Papers. Lewis Ruble McKinnon (1901-1956) studied agriculture at the University Farm School (now the University of California, Davis) in the early 1920s.

Go Ags!

Gerome with University Farm pennant

Gerome with University Farm pennant

Then & Now

February 4th, 2015 by Sara Gunasekara

Our latest Then & Now installment takes us to a place near and dear to us, the Main Reading Room of Shields Library.

The north wing of the Library, which houses the Reading Room, was completed in 1940. Prior to the completion of this building the Library was housed in the Creamery (1908-1915), the Classroom Building (1915-1938), and in temporary quarters in the recreation building behind West Hall (1938-1940).

The north wing which is comprised of 114,857 square feet, cost $265,750 to build and was financed by state appropriations. Designed by Starks & Flanders, the building anchored the south side of the Quad. Originally, the campus administration shared the building with the Library.

Several years after the completion of the building, it was used for purposes other than those of a Library. During the fall of 1942 the U.S. Army negotiated with university President Robert Sproul for the use of the Davis campus as a military training school. On January 1, 1943 the entire Davis campus was officially converted into a training facility for the Western Signal Corps School (WSCS). The WSCS, administered as a subunit of Camp Kohler by Lt. Col. E.A. Allen, took over the dormitories, the gymnasium and swimming pool, the judging pavilions and most of the academic buildings. The library became the radio school. The historic image below shows the radio school students in the Reading Room of the Library. In October 1944 the WSCS closed, having trained a total of about 1,800 men for active duty during the 22 months that the campus was under the jurisdiction of the Army.

As the Library’s collections grew, subsequent additions were made to the original building including: the East wing (1963), South wing (1967), and West wing (1990).

You can find additional information about the history of the Library here.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the north wing of the Shields Library building. Be sure to watch the Library’s Facebook page for posts highlighting this anniversary and the history of the Library.

Captions for the historical photographs below:

Radio school students in the Reading Room of the Library, circa 1943-1944

Main Reading Room, Shields Library, circa 1981



“Hi Aggie” Spirit

December 30th, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

You may have seen that UC Davis was recently named among the top twenty schools on a new list of colleges with the friendliest students. Friendliness has long been a tradition on the Davis campus and it is noted as far back as 1930. According to that year’s California Aggie Freshman Handbook: “The friendly attitude that you first noticed on campus is genuine. We mean it when we say “Hello.” Get the habit early. We are all Aggies and we all know each other; the sooner you fall in with this spirit, the more California Aggies will mean to you.”

The 1956-1957 Welcome Aggies publication defined the “Hello Spirit” as “the basis for our reputation as the friendly Davis campus. It begins your first days on campus. Each time you pass someone, whether you know him or not, say ‘Hello.’ This ‘Hello Spirit’ is evident in faculty-student relations and in town-campus relations as well.” By 1961 the tradition was known as “Hi Aggie” Spirit.

Do you remember the “Hi Aggie” spirit? If so, please share your memories in the comments.

On This Day: November 25, 1975

November 25th, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

Today’s feature in our On This Day series takes us to the November 25, 1975 dedication of Kerr Hall. Kerr Hall, completed in 1969, was originally known as Academic Office Building (AOB) #3. The building was designed by Frederick L.R. Confer & Associates of Concord.

The dedication program included remarks by Chancellor Meyer and Chancellor Mrak, Jerome Rosen, Chairman of the Davis Academic Senate, and Mrs. Edward Heller, Chairman of the Regents of the University of California. Clark Kerr’s address was titled, “Higher Education: The Year 2000.”

Clark Kerr (1911-2003) served as Professor of Industrial Relations (1945-1952) and Chancellor (1952-1958) at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1958, he was appointed President of the University of California, a position he held until 1967.

At the time of the building’s dedication in 1975, it contained offices for the following departments and units: Economics, Education, Geography, Mathematics, Black Studies, UCD Spectator, Teaching Resources Center and the Water Resources Center. In subsequent years, it was also home to Afro-American Studies, the Division of Statistics, the Davis Honors Program, the Education Abroad Program, and the John Muir Institute of the Environment. As of 2014, Kerr Hall houses the following departments: Communication, Linguistics, and Political Science.



On This Day: October 24, 1922

October 24th, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

Today’s post in the On This Day series features the October 24, 1922 dedication of the Dairy Industry and Horticulture Buildings. Both buildings were designed by architect William C. Hays and financed through state appropriations.

The Horticulture Building, located near the present day site of Wellman Hall, housed the Botany, Pomology, and Viticulture Departments.

The Dairy Industry Building, located at the present day site of the School of Education building, contained a creamery and administrative offices. On October 26, 1963, the Dairy Industry Building was named for Chester Roadhouse (1881-1969), Professor of Dairy Science.

Built of masonry and stucco rather than wood, both buildings were considered the first two “permanent” structures on campus. However, both were razed in the 1960s.


Roadhouse Hall (Dairy Industry Building), 1951

Roadhouse Hall (Dairy Industry Building), 1951

 Horticulture Building, 1922

Horticulture Building, 1922


On This Day: October 23, 1959

October 23rd, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

Today’s feature in our On This Day series takes us back fifty-five years to October 23, 1959 and the inauguration of Emil Mrak as the second Chancellor of UC Davis. Mrak’s appointment as Chancellor began on July 1, 1959 following the retirement of Chancellor Stanley Freeborn and the official inauguration ceremonies followed several months later in October.

Some 1500 University students, faculty, community members, and delegates from 42 other California colleges and universities attended the inauguration ceremony which took place in the Sunken Garden (now the site of the courtyard of Shields Library). University of California President Clark Kerr conducted the ceremony which included a speech by President Conrad A. Elvehjem of the University of Wisconsin. As part of the ceremony, honorary degrees were presented to Elvehjem and food engineer David Peebles.

Mrak (1901-1987) was appointed as an instructor in Food Technology in 1937 at UC Berkeley. He became Professor and Department Chairman in 1948, and in 1951 transferred with most of his staff to the UC Davis campus to reorganize and expand the Department of Food Science and Technology here.

Mrak served as Chancellor during a time of unprecedented growth for the campus. When he became Chancellor, UC Davis had approximately 2,000 undergraduates and more than 600 graduate students. By 1967, student enrollment was over 10,000. During Mrak’s tenure the following campus units were established: Graduate Division (1961), College of Engineering (1962), National Center for Primate Biology (now the California National Primate Research Center) (1962), School of Law (1964), Crocker Nuclear Laboratory (1965), and the School of Medicine (1966).

Mrak retired as Chancellor in 1969 and was succeeded by James Meyer.


President Clark Kerr of the University of California grips the hands of Chancellor Emil M. Mrak, right, and Vice-Chancellor Everett Carter at the conclusion of inaugural ceremonies in the Sunken Garden of the Davis campus, 1959 October 23.

President Clark Kerr of the University of California grips the hands of Chancellor Emil M. Mrak, right, and Vice-Chancellor Everett Carter at the conclusion of inaugural ceremonies in the Sunken Garden of the Davis campus, 1959 October 23.

Then & Now

September 25th, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

The latest installment in the Then & Now series takes us to one of the oldest original campus buildings that is still standing, South Hall. The building was constructed in 1912 as a dormitory to house sixty-seven men. It remained a dormitory until 1961 when it was converted to office use. Over the years the building has housed the Advisory Skills Center, Learning Skills Center, Internship and Career Placement Center, Services for International Students and Scholars, Student Activities, Student Affairs Research and Information, and the Student Employment Center. As of 2014, the building contains offices for the following units and programs: Academic Peer Advising, Educational Placement, Graduate Letter Service, Health Sciences Advising, Internship and Career Center, Peace Corps, Pre-Graduate Advising, Pre-Health Advising, Tipsy Taxi, UC Davis Washington Program, and Unitrans.

The historic image of South Hall, taken in 1957, is from the Eastman’s Originals Collection.




On This Day: September 11, 1974

September 11th, 2014 by Sara Gunasekara

The latest installment of On This Day features the groundbreaking ceremony for the Medical Sciences Unit I which took place on September 11, 1974. According to the program for the event: “The first permanent building for the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Unit 1, is being built in two phases. The initial construction includes a cluster of low-rise buildings which will house the health sciences library, bookstore, lecture and seminar rooms, study areas, and administrative offices. The four story structure, Phase 2, will contain laboratories, offices, and classrooms.” Stone, Marraccini, and Patterson served as the architect for Phase 1 while the contractor was Campbell Construction Company. Phase 2, completed in September 1977, was named Tupper Hall in June 1996 in honor of C. John Tupper, the founding dean of the UC Davis School of Medicine.