Posted on October 30, 2022
| 4:42 p.m.
Those old photo albums in the living room and that cardboard box of home movies in the garage are more than just recordings of memorable life events – they’re stories of families, neighborhoods and communities.
A photograph from 1987 shows a young schoolgirl standing next to a classic maroon Chevrolet pickup truck. (Courtesy of Rebecca Vasquez)
A new project led by the UC Santa Barbara Library Research Special Collections aims to preserve these family photographs and videos for the Eastside neighborhood of Santa Barbara. An inaugural community event will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, November 5 at the Eastside Library, 1102 E. Montecito St.
To participate in the Santa Barbara Community Archive Project, residents of the predominantly Latinx neighborhoods of Eastside can bring family photos and videos to the Eastside Library for free scanning and digitizing.
Professional staff will scan the photos on site; the videos will be collected and transferred to the UCSB library for the longer digitization process. All originals, as well as digital copies, will be returned to entrants.
“The goal is to collect community stories to develop a collection available online that documents the Latinx communities of Santa Barbara,” said Angel Diaz, curator of the UCSB Library’s ethnic and multicultural archives. “It’s a great story to collect, preserve and share.”
The project was recently funded by a $5,000 Humanities For All Rapid Grant from California Humanities, a Bay Area-based nonprofit whose mission is to “connect Californians to ideas and to each other.” to understand our common heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future,” according to its website.
Diaz is co-directing the project with fellow Special Research Collection curators Laura Treat and Yolanda Blue. They have also partnered with the Santa Barbara Public Library.
“We love preserving local history,” said Santa Barbara Public Library Services Manager Molly Wetta. “Who can tell their story and what is preserved can be a loaded proposition. Making this project accessible to a wider range of the community gives them a chance to share what matters to them.
Diaz said the collection will aim to document a range of neighborhood families, events and cultural snapshots representative of different eras – people standing in their front yard or on a street corner next to their bicycle or car. preferred, to families gathered for baptisms, birthdays, weddings and sporting events.
Contributors will also have access to local history and preservation efforts from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), which will be featured at the Nov. 5 event.
“[We are] looking forward to sharing resources…about local histories from different communities in Santa Barbara, as well as information on how to use our collections to research family and community histories,” said Dez Alaniz, SBTHP Archivist and Librarian.
The libraries are planning a follow-up event next summer, featuring a screening of a selection of submitted photos and videos.
“This type of project is brand new for UCSB,” Diaz said. “We’re starting with the Eastside of the city because it’s a historic Latinx neighborhood.” But she has no intention of turning anyone down, she added. “If you live in the Westside and you have content, come on over.”