Leonelli’s Travels – A New Addition to the CCDL

Special Collections is in the process of uploading photographic essays by photojournalist Elisa Leonelli to the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. The images uploaded so far were mostly taken during the 1980s, and cover an eclectic range of subjects and locations, from Peruvian folkloric dance to Los Angeles storefront windows. Here is a small sample highlighting the broad scope of Leonelli’s travels and interests.

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Two costumed dancers perform the Turkuy, a dance from the Yanaoca District celebrating the completion of work beneficial to the community.

According to Leonelli’s accompanying essay regarding what the performers dance to, “The words of the song refer to the best effort and ability they put in the work and serve as a stimulus to keep doing their best.”

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This statue in Rajasthan, India helps measure the water levels of Lake Pichola.


Movie-goers stand outside a box-office window in Guilin, China.


Schoolchildren in Havana, Cuba.Leonelli’s work has appeared in both American and international publications, such as this Finnish photo essay about American truckers:

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This collection is a work in progress, so please check back periodically.

This entry was written by Special Collections Student Assistant, Myles Mikulic (Claremont Graduate University).

New to CCDL – Maps and Mapping at the Claremont Colleges

The maps here are a few examples from the Maps and Mapping at the Claremont Colleges collection found in the the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL). Thanks to funds donated by William Brownell, father of a Pomona College student, Special Collections was able to digitize 150 of our maps for easy online access.

Many items in our map collections spell out the settlement of North America in the languages of European settlers. Whether in English, French, or Spanish, map holdings depict the exploration and administration of the American West and Pacific coast from the years 1542-1949. Just as books are written with the author’s intent, many of these maps depict the land according to the mapmaker’s agenda.

Some cartographers would stretch and crop the land to fit their own politics. Spanish colonial administrators promoted the idea of California as a chain of islands called the Carolinas. This concept of the West Coast spread and was recreated by non-Spanish cartographers, in the case of the two maps below.

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A New Map of the World According to Wright’s alias Mercator’s projection &c, an English map created in 1700 by Herman Moll. Note the California island.

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Californie et Du Noveau Mexique, a French reproduction of a Spanish map drawn for the Viceroy of New Spain, 1700

Even though maps from the late 1500s, like the one below, correctly show California as a southern peninsula and northern mainland, Spanish mapmakers spread the image of an island among other nations to avoid competition with the British. Not wanting to argue about the right to acquire new portions of the mainland, Spaniards simply claimed it was an archipelago. Colonial viceroys and mapmakers circulated this idea until King Phillip forced them to stop in the middle of the 18th Century.

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Americae sive novi orbis, nova description, by Abraham Ortelius, 1570. Note the peninsular California. Donated as part of the Henry R. Wagner Collection.

Other maps in this collection imply competition by later colonial powers. The 1811 American map below outlines towns, military outposts, and natural resources of Spanish Mexican states bordering the Louisiana Purchase. The detail of said locations likely reflects the cartographer’s interest in acquiring those lands. Given the Texan revolt and the Mexican war of the late 1830s and early 1840s, this may have become a common political opinion.

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Spanish dominions in North America, northern part, by L. Hebert and John Pinkerton, 1811

Natural resources and landforms were key to settlers, as in the below map of 1850s California. The map outlines topography, cities, and mineral districts, all of which would have been important for settling in a nice place or striking it rich during the gold rush era. This map was composed from survey data by John Trask, California’s first state geologist. California was officially part of the United States at the time, and the huge amount of survey data on the map shows the Americans’ intention to stay for good.

Topographical map of the mineral districts of California: Being the first map every published from actual survey, by John B. Trask, 1853

Just as this entry offers a glimpse of what is held in the Maps and Mapping at the Claremont Colleges collection, the digital collection only begins to reflect the collection of maps held in Special Collections. This digital collection will continue to grow, with the goal of increasing access to the resources available through the Claremont Colleges Library.

This entry was written by Special Collections Student Assistant Dalton Martin (Pomona College ’18).

New to CCDL – West-ography

The West-ography, re-imaging the West Collection is made up of different photographic approaches to documenting the rich and changing contexts that have characterized the American West. Early photography of the West focused on capturing the unique landscapes that the West had to offer and on creating portraits of Native Americans. As time went on, photographers began to make portraits of pioneers and started to document many aspects of life in the West like Western fiestas and pageantry.

In the West-ography Collection, visitors can go through Edward S. Curtis’ The North American Indian: being a series of volumes picturing and describing the Indians on the United States, and Alaska (numbered plate portfolios and boxes 1 and 4). This body of work began in 1906 when Curtis was commissioned by JP Morgan to make photos of the American Indians. Morgan paid Curtis $75,000 (around $2,000,000 in today’s money) to complete the project which would take him around 20 years to do.

Curtis’ goal in the project was to not only make photos of the American Indians he encountered, but also to document their fading way of life. To that end, he brought along a team of scholars including anthropologists and journalists. Throughout this pursuit, Curtis took over 40,000 photographs of Native Americans from over 80 tribes and carefully depicted their way of life through written records.

All images are from The North American Indian: being a series of volumes picturing and describing the Indians of the United States, and Alaska, by Edward S. Curtis, published by The University Press (Cambridge, Mass.), beginning in 1907 and culminating in 1930. The full set is held in Special Collections at the Claremont Colleges Library.

Currently, the collection includes select Edward S. Curtis photogravures from his The North American Indian: being a series of volumes picturing and describing the Indians of the United States, and Alaska numbered plate portfolios and boxes 1 and 4 from the Charles Lummis photograph collection which cover the American southwest and California.

Future plans include adding photographs from the Marion Parks Papers and a variety of other materials from Special Collections, Claremont Colleges Library which contain Western imagery.

Parks’ photographs include “La Fiesta de Los Angeles”- which was an annual “celebration of Southern California and the Southwest” in the 1890s and other historical pageants/events in Los Angeles. Though the initial focus is on photographs, it is hoped other “imaging” media such as video files, audio files, and ephemera will also be added to this collection. This collection is a “work in progress” so please check back regularly.

This entry was written by Special Collections Student Assistant, Tristan Marsh (Pomona College ’18).

Special Collections Around the World

This Fall, inspired by our colleagues in ILL, Special Collections mapped all the places in the world where our patrons outside of Claremont reside, study, and conduct their research. These patrons are using our online request system, Aeon, to ask for scans of materials held in our collections. For the most part, traveling to Claremont to conduct their research in person is not an option for these patrons, and so access is facilitated by digitizing the materials they have identified as vital to their research. The files scanned for patrons can be uploaded directly to their Aeon accounts, providing convenient access and the ability to download and save the files for future reference.

View Mapping Patron Requests in Aeon in a full screen map.

Special Collections has provided digitized materials for patrons in 171 unique locations around the globe, the majority of which are in the United States, and among those, the majority are in California. The farthest a patron’s Aeon request has traveled is 9,963 miles, from Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Clicking on the map above will open it in a new page, allowing you to then click on each marker to see the specific location from where patrons requested Special Collections materials.

Visualizing where our patrons are in the world allows us to see the role we play in providing access to the resources that make their research possible. Whether we are supporting patrons reaching out to us from behind their computers around the globe, or patrons walking through the doors of the Reading Room, it is always satisfying to know that researchers are aware of and are using the resources we strive to make accessible.

Staying Alive: What’s New in Special Collections – Summer 2014 Exhibit

The development of our holdings in Special Collections is driven by our ongoing efforts to enrich the research and learning opportunities of the students, faculty, staff, and community members of the Claremont Colleges. As such, the expansion of our collections is measured by far more than extent, but by the depth and breadth of information, experiences, ideas, histories, and artistic and cultural expressions that they hold. Over the past months Special Collections has acquired books, archival collections, photographs, diaries, personal effects, and other materials that meet this measure. A selection of these materials is on display in the Special Collections exhibition gallery by the north entrance of the library from June 16th – August 29th.

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Those interested in Asian-American history may be drawn to our collections from the Japanese Internment camps of the 1940s and a collection from a former member of the US Armed Forces once interned in the camps. The Angela Davis papers tell not only the story of a remarkable woman, but touch on the history of the Claremont Colleges, and of race relations in this country. Artists’ books such as Cracked, Diderot Decaptioned, and our books with fore-edge paintings offer inspiration to budding artists not only through the beauty they hold within their covers, or along their edges, but in reflecting what a creative mind can produce.

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“Staying Alive: What’s New in Special Collections” holds so much more for the inquisitive mind than what is named above. Needless to say, so do the other collections held in Special Collections. We invite you to browse our holdings using Library Search, and the Online Archive of California, along with the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, where a number of our collections are also digitized. For anyone new to Special Collections, in just a few clicks, you can register as a reader and request materials you might want for a research paper, conference presentation, article submission, or just to satisfy your curiosity.

In response to the accomplished and innovative scholarship found at the Claremont Colleges, Special Collections continuously seeks to add new materials which diversify our collections. This often means finding ways to ensure that the voices of those who have been marginalized throughout history and silenced in the telling of history are represented. Our newly acquired Social Movement Collection speaks to this goal. In this vein, we welcome contributions from the Claremont Colleges community; be it by putting us in touch with former and current members of community organizations, or offering us a collection you may have. This allows us to help keep the organization’s cultural heritage alive. Interested parties should please contact Lisa Crane, Western Americana Librarian, Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library at (909) 607-0862 or lisa_crane@cuc.claremont.edu.
Photos by Tanya Kato

Food for Thought: A Taste of Special Collections in Farming, Dining, and War

I recently had the pleasure of working with Jennifer Bidwell on my very first Special Collections exhibit. In deciding on a “Summery” theme, we came up with food and found an abundance of relevant provisions throughout our collections to put on display. An initial survey of materials pointed to a number of subtopics we could present, such as agriculture, dining, cooking, the politics of food, food and population control, cultural dietary customs, and food relevant to California. Realizing we would have to limit our selection to what would fit in the cases, we chose to focus on farming, dining, and war.

The materials on display span three centuries, highlight multiple cultures, and range from books and pamphlets to posters, cutlery, and even a teapot. Along with drawing from our general collection of books, the exhibit showcases materials from a number of collections, including some that can be accessed through the Online Archive of California. These include the American Missionaries and Educators in China Collection, the World War Poster Collection, and the William McPherson Papers. Other represented collections include The Claremont Colleges Archives, the Nordic Collections, and the William Smith Mason Collection of Western Americana.

If you’re looking for a recipe, perhaps something prepared at the Pitzer Grove House, or something new to you, like sparrows brains (from Venus in the Kitchen), you will find it in the exhibit. You can also take a stroll down memory lane in Los Angeles or San Francisco as you read about local favorite restaurants, where you could have had a meal for under $6.00 and who was serving the best sushi.
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Working on this exhibit, I was reminded of the wealth of information the library has to offer. It was also a nice change from my usual reading for school and I had fun flipping through books on the proper diet for a criminal and how dates came to be grown in California.
The exhibit will run until August 30, 2013. Please consider yourself our guest, come by and enjoy this feast of food for thought.