By Rosalie Lack, CDL Digital Special Collections Director

Now that fall has returned and UC students are streaming back to campus, it’s a good time to take another look at Calisphere ( with undergraduate students in mind.  Calisphere is the University of California’s free public gateway to a world of primary sources.  Calisphere contains more than 150,000 digitized items — including

  • Photographs
  • Documents
  • Newspaper pages
  • Political cartoons
  • Works of art
  • Diaries
  • Transcribed oral histories
  • Advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts

These items reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.

Calisphere’s content has been selected from the libraries and museums of the UC campuses, and from a variety of cultural heritage organizations across California.  Although originally aimed at California’s K-12 teachers, Calisphere contains a wealth of information that can be used successfully in undergraduate courses where primary source materials are required.

Calisphere’s success rests on the quality of the primary source images and documents provided by CDL’s content contributors.  The site’s unique organization and intuitive user interface makes these resources easily accessible to students.  They can use its segments on themed collections, California Cultures, and JARDA: Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives.  Sections are grouped by topic or time period with a selection of representative images and documents and relevant historical context.

In your own instruction, and in working with faculty and graduate student instructors, keep Calisphere in mind.