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Library team receives “Collections as Data” grant

January 22, 2020

A hydrograph of the Salton Sea, taken from the California Water Documents collection.

Congratulations to Pomona professor Char Miller, Claremont Colleges librarians Jeanine Finn, Jessica Davila, Yeisi Ileczko, Elizabeth Richey, and Lisa Crane, and Claremont Colleges Library GIS Specialist Warren Roberts on receiving a Collections as Data grant, an effort made possible by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. With this grant, The Claremont Colleges Library will develop a model that gives scholars new opportunities to manipulate & analyze the information in our California Water Documents collection.

This recently digitized, wide-ranging collection includes over 13,000 digital files of mixed archival materials, including journals, ledgers, correspondence, field notes, and maps documenting the history of water use in Southern California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These materials were digitized with the support of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant awarded to the Special Collections division in 2017. The project team seeks to make it possible for scholars to work with these documents as data, computationally manipulating the information for research and scholarship.

This rich collection has the potential to surface the histories of the earliest inhabitants of the west (including the Cahuilla and Paiute peoples) who utilized local waterways to those who exploited the First People’s knowledge and labor to build the region’s modern agriculture and urban economy. The project team will collaborate with community partners to attach appropriate indigenous place names, include coordinates for geographic materials, and make PDF and image files fully discoverable and computationally useful.

Learn more about the Collections as Data grant.

Learn more about the California Water Documents collection.