Library Exhibit on Forest Communities

The exhibit "Northwestern California Forest Communities" continues at the HSU Library through January 29, celebrating the Library's contributions to Calisphere, an exciting new web site launched by the California Digital Library in August. Calisphere is a free public gateway to thousands of primary sources that reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history. The HSU Library is one of 19 California libraries selected in 2005-06 through the California State Library to digitize 225 of local historical documents to add to Calisphere

The HSU project team, led by Special Collections Librarian Joan Berman, chose the theme “Northwestern California Forest Communities” to highlight the rich and dynamic forest community heritage that is so well documented in the collections of the HSU Library Humboldt Room. Images were selected to illustrate the broad range of people and activities typically associated with the early timber industry in Humboldt County.

The exhibit shows some of the Humboldt items digitized for Calisphere. These include the 1921-22 Belcher Atlas of Humboldt County and photographs and maps of the Little River Redwood Company and its company town, Crannell. Another company town, Samoa, is represented by architectural drawings of the original buildings in the town and the lumber camps. Lastly, a series of photographs of the tanbark industry from the Swanlund-Baker Collection presents one of southern Humboldt County ’s forest communities.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to digitize the monumental Belcher Atlas,” Ms. Berman said. “Fortunately a complete set in very good condition was available to borrow from a private individual, Michael Moore, for the scanning. Maps are a snapshot in time of all of the resources people consider important about a place and the Belcher Atlas is key to identifying and interpreting local cultural landscapes in northwestern California . This atlas sets the context for our forest communities and provides a way for us to understand trends and themes over the last 150 years.”

The online version of the exhibit is extended and enhanced by the inclusion of three slideshows prepared by Suzanne Guerra as she has used images from these collections in presentations for a variety of audiences. The first of these is “Identifying Local Cultural Landscapes.” The other two are “ Mill Towns, Company Towns and Logging Camps” and “Tanbark Industry in Southern Humboldt County.”

The exhibit continues through January 29 in the HSU Library lobby, and the web site will continue to grow. The Humboldt Room web site will soon be adding a blog about this and other collections. Please link to it and share your comments.