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California: State Resource Guide

Digital Collections

The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of primary source materials related to the state of California, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, motion pictures, photographs, sheet music, and sound recordings. Provided below is a link to the home page for each relevant digital collection along with selected highlights.

Written materials in the Library's digital collections include books, government documents, manuscripts, and sheet music. Examples of written materials related to the state of California are provided for most of the collections listed below.

Aaron Copland Collection

This multiformat collection includes approximately 400,000 items documenting the multifaceted life of the extraordinary Aaron Copland--composer, performer, teacher, writer, conductor, commentator, and administrator.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 20,000 documents which include incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

This collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost 100 years from the early 19th through the early 20th centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress

This collection consist of correspondence, scientific notebooks, journals, blueprints, articles, and photographs documenting Bell's invention of the telephone and his involvement in the first telephone company, his family life, his interest in the education of the deaf, and his aeronautical and other scientific research.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

This collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics. Browse the collection by location to locate more than thirty items pertaining to California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets

This collection spans the period from the turn of the nineteenth century to the 1880s, although a majority of the song sheets were published during the height of the song-sheet craze, from the 1850s to the 1870s.

Selected highlight from this collection:

American Notes: Travels in America, 1750 to 1920

This collection comprises 253 published narratives by Americans and foreign visitors recounting their travels in the colonies and the United States and their observations and opinions about American peoples, places, and society from about 1750 to 1920.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

California as I Saw It: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849 to 1900

This collection consists of the full texts and illustrations of 190 books documenting the formative era of California's history through eyewitness accounts. It covers the dramatic decades between the Gold Rush and the turn of the twentieth century.

Selected highlight from this collection:

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection consists of a linked set of published congressional records of the United States of America from the Continental Congress through the 43rd Congress, 1774-1875.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920

This collection documents the historical formation and cultural foundations of the movement to conserve and protect America's natural heritage. The collection includes forty-three images of California by photographer Carleton E. Watkins one of California's early commercial photographers.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Frontline Diplomacy: The Foreign Affairs Oral History Collection of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training

The collection presents a window into the lives of American diplomats. Transcripts of interviews with U.S. diplomatic personnel capture their experiences, motivations, critiques, personal analyses, and private thoughts. The collection includes interviews of American diplomats from California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Hannah Arendt Papers at the Library of Congress

The papers contain correspondence, articles, lectures, speeches, book manuscripts, transcripts of Adolf Eichmann's trial proceedings, notes, and printed matter pertaining to Arendt's writings and academic career.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1870 to 1885

This collection consists of over 62,000 pieces of sheet music registered for copyright during the nineteenth century. The collection contains more than 600 pieces of sheet music for California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820 to 1910

This collection portrays the states of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin from the seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries through first-person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, local histories, ethnographic, antiquarian, and colonial archival documents, and other texts drawn from the Library of Congress' General Collections and the Rare Books & Special Collections Division.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera

This collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompassing key events and eras in American history. Among them are a variety of posters, notices, invitations, proclamations, leaflets, propaganda, manifestos, menus and business cards. Browse the collection by geographic location of printing to locate more than a 100 items printed in California.

Prosperity and Thrift: The Coolidge Era and the Consumer Economy, 1921-1929

This collection assembles a wide array of Library of Congress source materials from the 1920s that document the widespread prosperity of the Coolidge years, the nation's transition to a mass consumer economy, and the role of government in this transition.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Woody Guthrie and the Archive of American Folk Song: Correspondence, 1940 to 1950

This collection highlights letters between Woody Guthrie and staff of the Archive of American Folk Song (now the Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center) at the Library of Congress.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The visual material collections at the Library of Congress contains thousands of images documenting the history of the state of California. Selected images of California are provided for each collection listed below. Search on terms such as or names of cities, towns, and sites, etc. to locate additional images.

Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar

This collection presents for the first time side-by-side digital scans of both Adams's 242 original negatives and his 209 photographic prints, allowing viewers to see his darkroom technique and in particular how he cropped his prints.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Baseball Cards

This collection presents 2,100 early baseball cards dating from 1887 to 1914. Browse the collection by subject to locate baseball players in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, and San Francisco.

Daguerreotypes

The Library's daguerreotype collection consists of approximately 600 photographs dating from 1839 to 1864. Portrait daguerreotypes produced by the Mathew Brady studio make up the major portion of the collection.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Detroit Publishing Company

This collection of photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company Collection includes over 25,000 glass negatives and transparencies as well as about 300 color photolithograph prints, mostly of the eastern United States. The collection more than 170 images of California.

Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives

The images in the Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. The collection contains more than 6,000 black-and-white images.

Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey

The Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies. Browse the collection by location to locate more than 3,000 items for California.

Horydczak Collection

This collection documents the architecture and social life of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, including exteriors and interiors of commercial, residential, and government buildings, as well as street scenes and views of neighborhoods. Browse the collection by location to locate more than ten images of California.

Panoramic Photographs

This collection contains approximately 4,000 images featuring American cityscapes, landscapes, and group portraits. The collection contains more than 400 images of California.

Posters: WPA Posters

This collection consists of 908 boldly colored and graphically diverse original posters produced from 1936 to 1943 as part of the New Deal. The collection contains more than 180 posters for Caifornia.

Quilts and Quiltmaking in America, 1978 to 1996

This collection represents a wide range of quiltmaking techniques, from highly traditional to innovative. The quilts pictured exhibit excellent design and technical skill in a variety of styles and materials.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party

The photographs in this collection document the National Woman's Party's push for ratification of the 19th Amendment as well as its later campaign for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. The collection contains more than twenty images for California.

The Library of Congress has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, over 500 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats, including over 19,000 CDs/DVDs.

Cities and Towns

This category includes maps that depict individual buildings to panoramic views of large urban areas. These maps record the evolution of cities illustrating the development and nature of economic activities, educational and religious facilities, parks, street patterns and widths, and transportation systems.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Panoramic Maps

The panoramic map was a popular cartographic form used to depict U.S. and Canadian cities and towns during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Known also as bird's-eye views, perspective maps, and aero views, panoramic maps are nonphotographic representations of cities portrayed as if viewed from above at an oblique angle.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Sanborn Maps

The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps Online Checklist provides a searchable database of the fire insurance maps published by the Sanborn Map Company housed in the collections of the Geography and Map Division. The online checklist is based upon the Library's 1981 publication Fire Insurance Maps in the Library of Congress and will be continually updated to reflect new acquisitions. Browse the collection by location to locate more than 700 maps for California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Transportation and Communication

These maps document the development and status of transportation and communication systems on the national, state, and local level. Transportation maps can depict canal and river systems, cycling routes , railway lines and systems, roads and road networks, and traffic patterns. Communication maps illustrate the location and distribution of telegraph routes, telephone systems and radio coverage.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Library oversees one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world. Acquired primarily through copyright deposit, exchange, gift and purchase, the collection spans the entire history of the cinema. The following moving image collections contain materials related to California.

America at Work, America at Leisure: Motion Pictures from 1894 to 1915

Work, school, and leisure activities in the United States from 1894 to 1915 are featured in this presentation of motion pictures.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897 to 1916

This collection consists of twenty-six films of San Francisco from before and after the Great Earthquake and Fire. Seventeen of the films depict San Francisco and its environs before the 1906 disaster. Seven films describe the great earthquake and fire.

Civil Rights History Project

On May 12, 2009, the U. S. Congress authorized a national initiative by passing The Civil Rights History Project Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-19). The law directed the Library of Congress (LOC) and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) to conduct a national survey of existing oral history collections with relevance to the Civil Rights movement to obtain justice, freedom and equality for African Americans and to record and make widely accessible new interviews with people who participated in the struggle. The project was initiated in 2010 with the survey and with interviews beginning in 2011. Browse the collection by location to locate more than twenty interviews for California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Inventing Entertainment: The Early Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies

This site features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles. Browse the collection by location to locate more than forty motion pictures pertaining to California.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures

This collection contains motion pictures of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution produced between 1898 and 1901.

Selected highlight from this collection:

Theodore Roosevelt: His Life and Times on Film

This presentation features 104 films which record events in Roosevelt's life from the Spanish-American War in 1898 until his death in 1919.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

The Library of Congress holds the nation's largest public collection of sound recordings (music and spoken word) and radio broadcasts, some 3 million recordings in all.

September 11, 2001, Documentary Project

The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project captures the heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. It includes twenty-four interviews recorded in California.

Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection, 1940 to 1941

This collection documents the everyday life of residents of Farm Security Administration (FSA) migrant work camps in central California in 1940 and 1941.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

Working in Paterson: Occupational Heritage in an Urban Setting

The collection presents 470 interview excerpts and 3,882 photographs from the Working in Paterson Folklife Project of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes: