After eight months of poring over almost 150 archive collections, the UCSB library’s archivist Matt Stahl took a deep breath. His team — which included manuscripts curator David Gartrell, archival processing specialist Leland Riddlesperger, and research collections specialist Yolanda Blue — has been creating an exhibition to celebrate UCSB’s 75th anniversary of becoming a part of the UC system. This celebration exhibition was the result of months of digging through archives by the team, who all glowed with pride of their work. And although the exhibition is tipping a hat to its track record as a UC, the school has been around much longer than that.
“The institution itself actually goes back further to 1891…downtown, founded in a basement” as a home economics training school, said Mr. Stahl. The school’s origin can be traced to its founder Anna Blake, who crafted a curriculum that taught cooking, needlework and woodwork. The exhibition that was revealed in the library Thursday even narrated history that was beyond the founding of the school, to when the land the university currently sits on belonged to the Chumash.
“We wanted to first of all recognize the Chumash people,” said Mr. Stahl. In the case dedicated to the Chumash were drawings, resembling artisanal tiles.
Almost 500 acres of the land that Mr. Stahl’s referring to was bought in the late 1940s for $10. This deed that brought the campus from what is now downtown to what is now Goleta stands in a display of the exhibition.
Among other things that were standing was the university’s first yearbook called La Cumbre, meaning the peak in Spanish. Indeed, these yearbooks recorded the peaks and dips over the years. One yearbook, for example, has a blank page where the fraternity page would be. The page, according to Ms. Blue, was blank because during the 1940s and 1950s, the men were in the military.
“A lot of what has taken place on campus is a reflection of events in the world…the community,” said Ms. Blue.
These reflections occurred especially during the period leading up to 1970.
“We actually had a kind of a period of unrest and a lot of protests going on on campus in response to the Vietnam war and kind of the changing demographics,” said Mr. Stahl. “In 1970, (it) started out as a large protest and ended up becoming the Isla Vista riot. That was when the Bank of America building was burned.”
The protests also included the North Hall Takeover, when a group of Black students occupied the computer center in demonstration. Several pictures from the demonstration, which show the tension that existed between students, can be seen both at the exhibition and in a tunnel of North Hall.
UCSB in the 1960s, according to Mr. Stahl, was known as a fairly conservative school in terms of its curriculum and student body. The protests that gained media attention, however, indicated that there was a cultural clash occurring. Out of this cultural clash came one of the first Black studies departments in the nation.
“The North Hall Takeover actually led to the establishment of one of the first Black studies departments in the United States being founded here,” said Mr. Stahl.
As UCSB was emerging from the throes of unrest, the base of its modern identity began to form in the late 1970s, when the university was chosen as a finalist to become the site of the Institute of Theoretical Physics. This identity crystalized when UCSB was selected over Princeton to be the host in 1979. Four decades later, six UCSB researchers have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the fields of chemistry, physics and economics.
Those who want to check out the exhibition can head on over to UCSB Library’s Special Research Collections before July 4. Those interested in meeting the archivist team can visit the exhibition on Nov. 1. For more information, visit www.library.ucsb.edu or call 805-893-2478.