Department Blog

Special Collections

50 Features of Special Collections: Gay and Lesbian History and Culture Collection

March 12th, 2017 by Christine Cheng


The Gay and Lesbian History and Culture Collection in Special Collections is comprised of over 3,000 rare books and serials (any publication issued in successive parts), as well as pamphlets. This collection originally came from a donation of gay and lesbian books, serials, and pamphlets in the mid-1990s.

The materials in this collection help document the birth of the gay rights movement and the development of the LGBT community in California and the rest of the U.S. Highlights from the collection include the first issue of the first lesbian serial published in the U.S. (Vice Versa, 1947), as well as openly gay and lesbian novels from the late 1920s and 1930s. It also has publications of earlier gay organizations from the 1960s, such as the Society for Individual Rights (1964-1976), the Association for Responsible Citizens (1965-1967), and the Janus Society (1964-1969). In addition to publications from gay communities, there are also publications from the 1970s from lesbian and feminist organizations, including The Amazon Quarterly, The Furies, Lesbian Tide, and Womanspirit.

One serial from the collection that caught our attention is the San Francisco publication Black Lesbian Newsletter (BLN), especially since the newsletter was published before novelist and poet Alice Walker defined black feminism as “womanism” in 1983. For submissions, the BLN welcomed “any and all written and graphic work by local black lesbians.” The format of the newsletter included “news, reviews, personal perspectives, political commentaries, interviews, poetry, letters, ads, announcements, humor, and journal entries.”

Throughout the newsletters, contributors to the BLN not only addressed issues of gender inequality but also of racism – notably how out of place black lesbians felt among white feminists in “The Need for a Black Lesbian Front”:

When the [feminist] movement first started, there seemed to be total denial that there were any Black women active in this struggle for equal rights, which perpetuated this “savior syndrome” on the parts of white women. The resistance to working equally and intelligently with Black women intensified when our white sisters found out that Black women didn’t need to be “saved.” There seemed to have been this stereotypic mentality that Black women needed saving…The reality is that the Feminist movement, as it stands now, is just another racist and oppressive mechanism of this racist society…We as Black lesbians need to take control of our lives by creating a strong political front that directly addresses our needs as Black lesbians…We must change the face of the Feminist movement. By using our knowledge and strength, the movement can be a strong force again.

Another contributor expressed frustration with the lack of workshops on racism in feminist studies at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, “Few workshops addressed the issue of race or racism in feminist education, and few women of color participated in panels or events that did not have a racial/ethnic focus.” The author pointed out that women of color “discovered…that race was the only thing they were asked to talk about, even if they felt quite competent in other areas as well.”

Covers of the BLN:


For more information about the BLN, visit Special Collections in Shields Library. You can also search for pamphlets and serials through the library catalog at:


Gay and Lesbian History and Culture Collection


Gay and Lesbian History and Culture Collection

Works cited:

Gaines, Eileen. “The Need for a Black Lesbian Front.” Black Lesbian Newsletter (August 1982): 3.

Stewart, Helen. “Going…Going…Gone??” Black Lesbian Newsletter vol. 1, no. 3 (September 1982): 3-4.

50 Features of Special Collections: The “Preoccupations of a Generation”

December 5th, 2016 by Christine Cheng


Protesting the Vietnam war, fighting for civil rights and women’s rights, drug experimentation, free love, and questioning human sexuality and gender roles are examples of some of the issues that people from the counterculture supported during the 1960s. “Counterculture” described the hippie movement and those whose lifestyles and views opposed established norms of society, such as the norms attributed to the traditional values of the American middle-class. Naturally, the art and music from the time period also reflected and expressed the attitudes of this movement.

The Counterculture Poster collection in Special Collections contains posters and cards announcing psychedelic rock concerts and other “happenings” of interest to the American counterculture of the 1960s, mostly in the San Francisco area featuring performances at the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom. Former Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at Shields Library, Noel Peattie, felt it was important for the Library to acquire and highlight the work of local artists. As a result, the University Library started purchasing the posters as they were beginning to be produced in the ‘60s. Besides buying posters, the library also accepted donations from former faculty members whose students from that time period designed posters that represented the “preoccupations of a generation.” The Library envisioned the collection to be used in the study of graphic arts, art history, as well as researching the 1960s or the mindset and culture of the hippie movement.

Rebelling against the conventions of commercial design, the artists of the posters “went beyond art and advertising” and created a new style to communicate social and political statements of the movement. Messages on the psychedelic posters were hidden in plain view from outsiders through uses and manipulation of lettering, flowing typography, and bright, vibrant colors; text was not readily apparent until a black light was used on some of the posters.

Here are a few examples from the Counterculture Poster collection.

Posters protesting the Vietnam war:


silentmajority    nixonimpeachment    fruitsofvictory


Psychedelic posters advertising rock concerts:


peacock    sutter


Reprinted concert poster featuring the artistry of UC Davis undergrad alum, Thomas Morris, for a 1967 Picnic Day Dance with performances by Buffalo Springfield and Moby Grape:




Work cited:

Bachman, Teri R. “Psychedelic Sixties Revisited.” UC Davis Magazine 10, no. 2 (Winter 1992): 22-24.

Happy Birthday Mark Twain

November 30th, 2016 by Jenny Hodge
Samuel Clemens

Samuel Clemens

50 Features of Special Collections: Pomo Feathered Baskets in the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center

November 22nd, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center is a collection of over 21,000 volumes on the American West.  Over the years Mike Harrison collected Native American baskets, pottery, silver, and other Native American art.  The majority of the artifact collection was donated to museums prior to the collection coming to UC Davis. However, some personal favorites were displayed in the Harrison home and were donated with the book collection.

The Harrison Collection includes Native American handicrafts from the Southwest, Northwest Coast, California, and Alaska. There are approximately 30 pieces of pottery and 80 baskets including delicate Pomo feathered baskets. The Pomo baskets are of particular interest because of their beauty and fine workmanship.

In 1934 Mike Harrison worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and was transferred from the Southwest to San Francisco, California as assistant to the regional coordinator, Roy Nash.  In 1935 he was sent to Ukiah, California as agent in charge of Lake, Mendocino, and Sonoma Counties.  It was there that he connected with Pomo Indians and collected Pomo feathered baskets. The Pomo people are an indigenous people of California. The historic Pomo territory in northern California was large, bordered by the Pacific Coast to the west, extending inland to Clear Lake, and mainly between Cleone and Duncans Point. Pomo baskets made by Pomo Indian women of Northern California are recognized worldwide for their exquisite appearance, range of technique, fineness of weave, and diversity of form and use. While women mostly made baskets for cooking, storing food, and religious ceremonies, Pomo men also made baskets for fishing weirs, bird traps, and baby baskets.

Pomo baskets are made with many details and many different designs. The materials used in making these baskets are harvested each year. Swamp canes, saguaro cactuses, rye grass, black ash, willow shoots, sedge roots and redbud are all used in the weaving of these baskets. After being picked, they are dried, cleaned, split, soaked and dyed. Sometimes the materials are boiled over a fire and then set in the sun to dry.

The intricately woven feathers worked into designs are spectacular works of art. This Pomo feathered gift basket by Carrie Davis of Upper Lake, ca. 1941 is solidly feathered in red, green and yellow, decorated with clam shell disc beads and abalone pendants.  It is edged with quail plumes; 4” in diameter and 1 ¾ inches high.


The thumbnail size miniature baskets are true examples of the patience and artistry of the designer.


Of particular interest are Michael Harrison’s ethnographic notes regarding his basket collection.  He notes the dates purchased (primarily from the 1930-40s), the name of the weaver, for instance one is noted as Mrs. Lydia Fought, a Pomo, from Upper Lake, California, and the materials used—one is described as Green (Mallard Duck), Yellow (meadowlark) and White Root-3 stick basket. Ms. Fought is noted as being full blood Pomo and born in the year 1887.  He then takes a photograph of the maker with her wares.



This Pomo feathered gift basket by Lydia Fought of Upper Lake, circa 1941 is fully feathered in green and yellow; 4 ½ inches diameter and 1 ¾ inches high.



The beautiful baskets combined with the Mike Harrison descriptions make a wonderful small collection.

50 Features of Special Collections: Michael N. Westergard bronzes in the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center

November 17th, 2016 by Daryl Morrison


Michael Harrison with his wife Maggie Harrison collected over 21,000 volumes on the American West.  Mike Harrison was particularly interested in artists of the West and tracked their work through books , journals, and western art.

Mike Harrison sought authentic views of the West.  He became enamored with the work of bronze sculptor Michael Westergard for his beautiful iconic sculptures of western subjects including fauna of the west, Native Americans, the Custer Fight and other western themes.

Mike collected close to 60 bronze sculptures, likely the largest collection in private hands or museums of Westergard bronzes.  Up until his passing, Mike Harrison had a standing order with the Westergard, so that he was schedule to receive the next bronze to be produced. He was on schedule to obtain the first numbered casting available for sale.

Mike loved the images of western wildlife such as bear, buffalo, and pronghorn deer, but even more so the Native American subjects with their researched authentic dress, accoutrements and poses.  Of particular interest to Mike Harrison was Westergard’s use of artist Karl Bodmer’s journals and watercolors.  Bodmer accompanied German Prince Maximillian Du Wied, on a scientific expedition and hunting trip to the American West in 1833-1834 as artist.  Westergard used the Bodmer paintings to create historically accurate sculptures of the Native Peoples they encountered.


Westergard had to envision how to make the two dimensional paintings into  3-dimensions by considering what might have been on the backside of the subject to round out dress and accoutrements.

Michael Westergard’s career spans over 20 years. He has won numerous awards including being selected as Best Living Western Sculptor by the historical publication True West Magazine and also selected as a participating artist in the prestigious Best of Scottsdale Show held in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Westergard lists some of the major institutions that house his works including the permanent collection of the U.S. Air Force, National Park Service (such as the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Montana) and the Favell Museum, Klamath Falls, Oregon. He pays homage to the Michael Harrison Western History Research Center, University of California at Davis which houses the most extensive collection of his work.

Visit the Westergard-Ragucci Bronze Studio website for more information about Michael Westergard.

To learn more Michael Harrison see the Michael and Margaret B. Harrison Western Research Center.

For an appointment to see the Harrison Western Research Center and the Westergard bronzes contact the Special Collections Department, University of California, Davis Library at


Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2016 by Jenny Hodge

From the Heroes and Villains in Special Collections have a ghoulishly delightful Halloween!

Heroes and Villians

Heroes and Villians

Gerome Celebrates California Admissions Day, 165th Anniversary

September 9th, 2015 by Dawn Collings

California was admitted as the 31st state on Sept 9, 1850, and it was the first territory to become a state from land acquired from Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo which ended the Mexican-American War.

Gerome found the oldest original map of the State of California in the Map Collection room: A new map of the Gold Region in California by Charles Drayton Gibbes, 1851. (Call Number: MAP G4360 1851 .G4 Old Maps)

Of particular interest, this map focuses on Northern California and shows Lake Tahoe–named “Mountain Lake”–located entirely in Nevada. County lines are very different than current counties. “Lake D. L. Tulares”–a large lake in southern Central Valley –no longer exists.

The Map Collection holds other original California maps in the Old Maps cabinet (1920 and older) along with newer maps in the rest of the collection showing progression of change in California over the past 165 years. The Map Collection room is located on the lower level of Shields Library and is open Monday-Friday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.

PPIE Centennial: Quaker Oats Company’s exhibit

July 31st, 2015 by Sara Gunasekara

Here is this week’s post in our Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) centennial series. This image is from our Panama Pacific International Exposition Collection.

Quaker Oats Company’s exhibit at the PPIE, 1915.

Quaker Oats Company’s exhibit at the PPIE, 1915.

Gerome sends greetings from Denver

May 29th, 2015 by Sara Gunasekara

This week Gerome traveled to Denver, Colorado with several of our staff who are attending the Western Roundup, a joint conference of the Society of Rocky Mountain Archivists, Northwest Archivists, Society of California Archivists, and Conference of Intermountain Archivists. Gerome reports that he is having a great time on his first trip out of Davis!


Gerome learns about the Memorial Union

May 22nd, 2015 by Jenny Hodge

MU 2


While many college campuses have a Student Union, here at UCDavis we have a Memorial Union which stands as a memorial to Aggies who lost their lives in the service of their country. With Memorial Day coming up Gerome decided to explore the UC Davis publications, which are part of the University Archives. He discovered a pamphlet from the dedication ceremony for the Memorial Union in October of 1955. The original building served many purposes but the focal point was in the student lounge area where the mosaic fireplace held the memorial plaque listing 112 Gold Star Aggies. The Memorial Union continues to grow, providing many services to the students, faculty, staff and alumni. However, throughout the renovations and changes the Memorial Union remains a tribute to our fallen Aggies, which now number 135.