Digital Special Collections is celebrating a major milestone: as of today, more than 200,000 digital images are available on the Online Archive of California (OAC) and Calisphere websites.

The images—photographs, posters, artwork, and more—have been contributed by over 100 archives, libraries, historical societies, and museums at all UC campuses and across California.

The latest images

The UC Davis Department of Special Collections brought the OAC up to (and over) the 200,000 mark by contributing 136 images from the Floyd Halleck Higgins Photograph collection.  The images document Mexican workers who came to California in 1942 to harvest sugar beets.  They were part of a special government program during World War II, now considered the beginning of the Bracero System.

Hired photographer and freelance journalist Higgins said he tried “to catch a lot of the social side [of the program] in pictures.”  The images show many aspects of the workers’ lives, including their arrival in the country, labor camp construction, dining and entertainment, and work in the fields.

History of images in the OAC

Building a digital image collection has been an integral part of OAC development since it was established in 1998.  Over the years, Museums and the Online Archive of California, Japanese Relocation Digital Archives, California Cultures, and several other projects sponsored by both CDL and OAC contributors helped build a diverse body of content.  The Local History Digital Resources Project continues to help public, academic, and special libraries contribute local history images, and several other institutions contribute images on an ongoing basis.

What’s next?

Since 2002, OAC contributors have made available over 150,000 images to the UC community and the general public—that’s a rate of almost 19,000 a year!

DSC is developing new tools and services to give contributors increasing flexibility and more options for contributing content, which will result in more images online.  We are also working on new and better ways for users to interact with the images, for example increasing the number of images that can be viewed with a high-resolution zoom tool, and geo-mapping images so they can be browsed by physical location.