Santa Barbara History Collection

Aviation Box 1. Conway [Joel] / Early California Aviation Photograph Collection.The Santa Barbara History Collection (SBHC) is largely concerned with the political, cultural and environmental history of the greater Santa Barbara area. It contains dozens of manuscript collections pertaining to the development of numerous organizations, movements, and historical figures that made Santa Barbara their home. Subjects found in SBHC include: water issues, land use and planning, the Chumash, housing, local events (such as fiesta), natural resources, women’s issues, the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, and much more. The diverse materials in the SBHC come in a variety of formats:  scrapbooks, clippings, flyers, pamphlets, official documents, reports, correspondence, photographs, publications, ledgers and other papers.

History

The Santa Barbara History Collection has been a major part of UCSB’s Department of Special Collections since the 1970s. When the University of California, Santa Barbara began collecting material for this collection, it had in mind to collect personal papers and organizational records relating to the history of planning and civic growth affairs, and activities of environmental concern in the Santa Barbara region. The resulting body of historical records largely consisted from a gift of personal and corporate records from Santa Barbara’s most persistent citizen activist, Miss Pearl Chase. Customarily, the collection would have been called the Pearl Chase Papers, however, Pearl Chase expressed the wish that her papers be called the Community Development and Conservation Collection (CDCC), in the hope that other organizations or individuals might wish to contribute to its growth. Since then, Get Oil Out! Inc. and Robert Easton, among many others have also contributed papers, scrapbooks, albums, and manuscripts to the collection. Due to its expansion, the CDCC became the first manuscript collection of what is now known as the Santa Barbara History Collection.

Since its founding, the Santa Barbara History Collection has continued to grow and strives to represent the history of our local area, with a goal to generate future donations of germane records and personal papers to add to our holdings. It must be noted that the collection is not intended as a casual reference file; it is a serious historical collection for use by students and scholars for research purposes. We hope that work undertaken in the collection will result in additional studies of Santa Barbara’s history and environment. The literary testament of our community can only be enriched by such work.

Notable Material

  • Community Development and Conservation Collection ca. 1892-1995 (SBHC Mss 1) Also known as the Pearl Chase Collection, focusing on Santa Barbara history in the 20th century, predominantly 1920s-1960s. Included are papers relating to several hundred local organizations (especially pertaining to architecture, gardens, housing, land use, and planning), as well events such as Fiesta, Chase family papers, and numerous photographs of local scenes. 
  • Easton (Robert O.) Collection ca. 1911-1990s (SBHC Mss 6) Includes correspondence, research and subject files (including Chumash, natural resources, wilderness, and women's issues), drafts of writings, and related materials of the Santa Barbara author of (on the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill), and the acclaimed multi-volume series.
  • Whitehead (Richard S.) Collection ca. 1909-1974 (SBHC Mss 9) The collection is arranged in two series: Alphabetical Files and Geographical Files. Both series primarily are concerned with land use and planning.
  • Get Oil Out (GOO) Collection ca. 1969-1990 (SBHC Mss 10) Collection contains office files (bylaws, minutes, fundraising, publications, and newsletters), governmental action, legal, and subject files, mainly pertaining to efforts to contain and monitor oil industry off coast of Santa Barbara, especially in the aftermath of the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill.
  • Saadi (Ruth) Collection ca. 1984-1993 (SBHC Mss 14) Includes files relating to the League of Women Voters - Santa Barbara concerns, including air pollution, energy, environment, growth and development, oil and gas, voting and elections. Ruth Saadi was an active member and Energy Director of the organization.
  • Isla Vista Archives ca. 1954-1989 (SBHC Mss 41) Records of the Isla Vista Community Council and Isla Vista Municipal Council, as well as subject/issue files including health, housing, incorporation and annexation, Isla Vista relations with UCSB, Santa Barbara County, and California, law enforcement, planning, population, public safety, riots… For related material consult our Isla Vista Resources page.
  • Local History Files ca. 1970-1999 (SBHC Mss 44) The bulk of the collection was accumulated and maintained by the UCSB University Libraries Reference Department as a vertical file for researchers, then later transferred to the Department of Special Collections.
  • Conway (Joel) / Flying A Studio Photograph Collection ca. 1910s-1997 (SBHC Mss 78) The collection mainly contains black and white prints and negatives relating to the Flying A Studios (aka American Film Manufacturing Company), a film company that operated in Santa Barbara (1912-1920), as well as supporting documentation.

Other Holdings:

For information on using the collections please contact the Special Collections reading room staff at special [at] library [dot] ucsb [dot] edu or call (805) 893-3062.