The Bancroft Library is the primary special collections library at the University of California, Berkeley. One of the largest and most heavily used libraries of manuscripts, rare books, and unique materials in the United States, Bancroft supports major research and instructional activities and plays a leading role in the development of the University's research collections.
The Bancroft Collection of Western and Latin Americana
Hubert Howe Bancroft, a bookseller, publisher, historian and collection gathered materials related to the history of California and The American West in the 19th century. These materials form the nucleus of The Bancroft Library, which has continued to grow. Printed and manuscript materials as well as pictorial, audio-visual and electronic media are added regularly to expand resources related to the history of western North America, from the western Great Plains to the Pacific Ocean and from Alaska to Panama. The greatest concentration of material relates to California and the West Coast, as well as Mexico and Central America, which are collected extensively to the present. The history of most other Western American states is collected up to 1900, except such broad, overlapping issues as water and the environment, which are collected without regard to date. Also represented are early Pacific voyages of exploration and discovery; continental expansion west of the Mississippi, including the Louisiana Purchase, fur trade, overland journeys to the West; Hawaii and the Philippines, British Columbia and the Yukon. In addition to books and manuscripts, the Bancroft Collection, as it has come to be called, includes maps, newspapers, photographs and other pictorial documentation, microfilms of original documents in private hands and in foreign archives, and other materials. For more detailed information see:
Finding Resources in The Bancroft Library
The Bancroft Library is the largest special collection of the UC Berkeley campus. Please note our hours are M-F 10 am – 4:45 pm. Most of our collections, in particular our manuscript and pictorial collections are offsite. You will need to plan in advance to have material available for you when you arrive. Manuscript and pictorial collections that are not processed will not be served in the reading room. Other collections, or portions of collections, may be unavailable. Plan your research by consulting the catalog and using alternative resources, including online resources. If you need assistance please call The Bancroft Library Reference Desk during business hours: (510) 642-6481. Offsite material can be requested using our online form: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/cgi-bin/storreq.cgi
Electronic access -- All formats can be searched on Oskicat: http://oskicat.berkeley.edu/ (the University of California Berkeley Library’s online catalog). The catalog description will include information about the creator, extent of collection, subjects, any restrictions as to use, collection specific notes, and also will indicate location of material (onsite, NRLF). More extensive groupings of materials, including manuscripts and pictorial material may have detailed finding aids that will provide more detailed information about the contents of the collection.
Finding aids -- Because manuscript and archival collections contain unique materials, a finding aid, e.g., inventory, box list, or other summary of the intellectual organization of the collection is often available to help a researcher determine the contents of the materials. Finding aids provide an overview of how the collection is organized. It often includes a biographical or historical note about the creator, a scope and content note about what is in the collection, and a container listing. Most of these are available in-house, but increasingly many are available on the Internet.
Online Archive of California (OAC)
The Online Archive of California (OAC) is a digital information resource that facilitates and provides access to materials such as manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California. The OAC includes a single, searchable database of "finding aids" to primary sources and to their digital facsimiles which are selectively available. Describing primary sources in detail, finding aids are the guides and inventories to collections in archives, museums, libraries and historical societies. Access to the finding aid is essential for understanding the content of a collection and for determining whether it is likely to satisfy your research needs. OAC home page: http://oac.cdlib.org/
Calisphere is the University of California's free gateway to primary sources. More than 150,000 digitized items, including photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other cultural artifacts, 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. Calisphere includes digital images of material available via the Online Archive of California (OAC) and provides easy access to material via its straightforward keyword searching option. URL: http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/
Websites of Interest:
Chinese is California: 1850-1925: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award99/cubhtml/
California Cultures: http://www.calisphere.universityofcalifornia.edu/calcultures/
Echoes of Freedom: South Asian Pioneers is California, 1889-1965Z: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/SSEAL/echoes.html
Regional Oral History office: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/collections/subjectarea/index.html
Websites of interest:
California Cultures: Selected primary source sets tell the stories, struggles, and contributions of four major ethnic groups in California that have been historically underrepresented by digitized primary source materials. URL:
The Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive on the Online Archive of California: This digital archive provides primary resource materials related to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
The Chinese in California, 1850-1925 (Materials from The Bancroft Library, The Ethnic Studies Library, and California Historical Society on The Library of Congress American Memory site):
The Free Speech Movement: The Free Speech Movement (FSM) Digital Archives document the role of Mario Savio and other participants in the Free Speech Movement (University of California, Berkeley, September-December 1964), as well as its origins in political protest and civil rights movements and its legacy of political activism and educational reform that can be traced throughout the country and the world down to the present.
Archives: The records of any corporate body, government agency, or group as well as records produced by an individual working for such an organization, created or accumulated in the course of daily activities, and saved by the creator because they are useful for continuing administration and activities of the organization and may be useful for later research, as they provide a vital historical record of the organization. (Examples of such records are: Calif. Dept. of Industrial Relations, Division of Immigration and Housing Records, Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
Historical and literary manuscripts: The papers of an individual, family, or a subject collection. Like archives, manuscript collections reflect the daily activities of the individuals represented in the collection. These materials are also collected by repositories because of their potential research value in reflecting the wide range of cultural, social, and political activities. (Examples of such records are: A. L. (Alfred Louis) Kroeber Papers, Carey McWilliams Papers, Vallejo Family Papers)
Archive and manuscript materials consists of a wide variety of forms, many requiring special conditions of use. They typically comprise correspondence, diaries, case files, business records, memoranda, circulars and other unpublished textual records. They may also, however, contain documents published in the course of organizational activities, such as reports, directories, posters, or advertisements. Modern archives also include photographs, films, sound recordings, microfilm, and increasingly electronic records. (The Bancroft Library processes and catalogs the different formats as separate groupings of materials – e.g. manuscript material is separated from pictorial materials.)
Pictorial Materials: Consists of photographs, paintings, prints, drawings, postcards, posters, etc. that provide visual documentation of a subject.
Oral Histories: The Regional Oral History Office is part of The Bancroft Library, and has many of their oral histories available on line: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/ROHO/collections/subjectarea/index.html
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