In the Limelight: California Citrus

Citrus_in_the_Sky3-sm.jpgFred Allen, one of the most popular comedians from the Golden Age of American radio, once quipped, “California is a fine place to live – if you happen to be an orange”. As it turns out, Claremont, California is an especially fine place to live – if you happen to be an orange crate label!

This summer, Special Collections presents In the Limelight: California Citrus, an exhibition centered on the history of the citrus industry in the Claremont area, curated by Grace Rodriguez (CMC 2015). Our inspiration stems from the recently-acquired Oglesby Citrus Label collection, which consists of over 80 labels as well as several books related to label collecting and history.

The most aesthetically dazzling and unique are on display, and originate from growers and packinghouses within the Claremont and Pomona area. The labels are supplemented with various other texts, photographs, and ephemera from our extensive collections including, but not limited to, paper citrus wrappers from Valentine Peyton (a prominent orange grower in La Verne), aerial photographs of Claremont covered in orange groves (circa 1939), and various issues of the California Citrograph, the industry’s official trade publication from 1915 to 1969.

In the Limelight stages citrus as the protagonist in Southern California’s rapid development during the early 20th century. Our exhibition also accentuates the orange’s role in selling the “California Dream” to people from across the country and even around the world…. Citrus crate labels were not just selling fruit! They are a juicy resource for anyone interested in advertising and marketing history, artistic styles of the period, representation of California and its people (native or non-native), and so much more.

The exhibit is located outside of the Special Collections Reading Room, in the 2nd floor Honnold foyer. It may been viewed at any time during the Library’s summer operating hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30am-7pm, and Saturday, noon-7pm). If you have any questions or want to see more of our collections, the Reading Room is open to the public during the summer on Monday through Friday, 1-5pm. You can also reach us by email ( or phone (909-607-3977).