July 29, 2010

New SSU Digital Collection Opens Doors to North Bay History

lachrymontis.jpgFrom a Sebastopol water tower, to a Guerneville church, a Santa Rosa windmill and a Cotati beer garden, North Bay history since the mid-1800s is now on view online at Sonoma State University's new North Bay Historic Preservation Digital Collection at http://northbaydigital.sonoma.edu/. The historical digital images are freely available to view by students, scholars and the community.

These first 200 digitized images of homes of the 19th and early 20th century, barns, water towers, railway stations, bridges and other historical sites illustrate the setting and background of the area up to 1970.

They are part of a larger 800-plus image gallery that will eventually be compiled as part of the University Library's Regional & Special Collections Department's newest digital collection. Each image includes metadata that describes the location of and any significant historic and architectural information about each site.

Sonoma County communities represented when all images are digitized will include Annapolis; Bodega; Bodega Bay; Camp Meeker; Cloverdale; Cotati; Duncans Mills; Forestville; Freestone; Geyserville; Glen Ellen; Graton; Guerneville; Healdsburg; Kenwood; Monte Rio; Oakmont; Occidental; Penngrove; Petaluma; Santa Rosa; Sea Ranch; Sebastopol; Sonoma; Two Rock; Valley Ford; and Windsor.

An historic preservation program, initiated in 1976 by the SSU History Department, is the foundation for this new digital collection. Project Manager Lynn Prime has been working with the scanning and preserving of mostly black and white photos taken in the mid-1970s by students in the fledgling "Program in Historic Preservation" that was part of an SSU history department program.

One of the courses in the program was "Photography in History," a course that involved collecting old and new photographs of Sonoma County's past and present.

Peter Mellini and Edgar Morse were co-directors of the program, and although it ended in a very few years, the results (photographs, historic resource inventories, student papers, and oral history transcripts) were collected in the University Library's Regional Collection as the Sonoma County Preservation Project and the North Bay Ethnic Archive.

Previously, in 1972, Dr. Timothy Bell, a historic geographer in Sonoma State College's Geography department, worked with the Sonoma County Planning Department to initiate a systematic survey of sites and buildings throughout Sonoma County. Students provided the labor and the County assisted by providing maps and direction.

The result of that survey became a record of more than 300 sites and structures to be considered for historic preservation. The plan was that this survey (called the Sonoma County Site Survey) would form the basis for the Sonoma County Historic Landmarks Commission. This initial effort provided the guidance for the later SSU history course.

The digitizing of the first 200 images in the collection was made possible by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

This digital collection is the first from Sonoma State University that will be featured on the state's Online Archive of California at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/. It will also be featured on Calisphere, the California State Library's link to K-12 digitized primary source materials: http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/.

NOTE: Media are welcome to browse the new site and request high resolution images from the collection for publication. Contact Lynn Prime at (707) 664-4025 or e-mail primel@sonoma.edu for further information.

Jean Wasp
Media Relations Coordinator
University Affairs
(707) 664-2057