Aviation Box 1. Conway [Joel] / Early California Aviation Photograph Collection.

The Santa Barbara History Collections (SBHC) date back to the 1970s with the donation by Pearl Chase of her personal papers and organizational records relating to her civic planning and preservation activities in Santa Barbara. Since that time, the Santa Barbara History Collections have been a major part of the UCSB Library’s Department of Special Research Collections, having grown to over 100 named collections covering many facets of community history and life, including events, individuals, families, organizations, community development, civic planning and preservation, conservation of natural resources, and social protest movements. Material formats include correspondence, photographs, audiovisual recordings, publications, scrapbooks, postcards, and newspapers. Historically, collection strengths have included pioneer families and the early settlement of the City and County of Santa Barbara, organizations and activities related to city planning and land use in South Santa Barbara County, early environmental and conservation movements in response to the 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill, and documentation of community protest movements such as the Isla Vista uprising.

Collecting Priorities

UCSB Library seeks to expand upon its existing strengths and collections with more inclusive and holistic collecting practices that emphasize contemporary histories, broader geographic areas, and a wider range of communities and organizations that more closely represents the diverse viewpoints and histories of the City and County of Santa Barbara and the South Central Coast region. To achieve these goals we will prioritize collecting materials in the following areas and formats.

Collecting Areas

  • Late 20th and 21st century Santa Barbara history 
  • LGBTQ+ history (events, community leaders, organizations) 
  • Local and community political organizations and movements 
  • Neighborhood organizations
  • Social justice and protest movements
  • Reproductive rights and healthcare in Santa Barbara County
  • Surfing history, culture, and industry
  • Skateboarding history, culture, and industry 
  • Rodeo history, culture, and industry
  • Music and other entertainment venues in Santa Barbara
  • Culinary and food culture (particularly local restaurants and food movements)
  • Arts groups and collectives (writers, performers)
  • Local and community broadcasting (radio, television) 
  • Local arts, community events, and festivals (Solstice, Fiesta, etc.)
  • Business and industry (particularly agriculture, diving, and fishing related commerce) 
  • North County community organizations, events, development and land use
  • Contemporary environmental activism and organizations

Materials Actively Collected Include

  • Personal papers (diaries and journals, correspondence, original photographs)
  • Organizational records (correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, newsletters)
  • Home movies and other original audiovisual recordings
  • Historical local and community newspapers (rare and not duplicated elsewhere)
  • Oral history interview recordings & transcripts if accompanied by signed release

Selective Collecting

UCSB Special Research Collections continues to selectively collect materials in the following areas and material formats, which represent existing collection strengths and previous priorities.

Collecting Areas

  • 19th and early 20th century Santa Barbara and Southern California history
  • Early settlement histories of Santa Barbara County
  • Early environmental activism and conservation movements
  • Land use and city planning in the City of Santa Barbara and North County
  • Historic preservation of Santa Barbara County buildings and infrastructure
  • The 1969 Santa Barbara Oil Spill and related movements and activism
  • The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake as documented in photographs


  • Research, issue, and subject files 
  • Scrapbooks and photograph albums
  • Personal photographs if accompanied by identifying information
  • Digital and analog reproductions of collection items
  • Postcards depicting historic locations and events in Santa Barbara County

Books, Serials, Media, & Other Published Materials

We very selectively acquire books or serials that pertain to the above collecting priorities and strengths based on the rarity of their content (not form) as well as their research or instruction value. We do not accept these materials based on their age, edition, presence of inscription, or comprehensiveness. While these materials may be of value to collectors and of interest to specific communities, these factors do not influence our decisions.


The following materials are generally considered to be out of scope for this collecting area:

  • Materials unrelated to the Southern Central Coast of California (“Tri-County” region)
  • Materials that are still being actively used by their creators (working collections)
  • Materials collected or assembled, but not created, by an individual or group
  • Personal libraries of published materials (books, magazines, musical recordings, films)
  • Large collections of research and reference materials (clippings, publications, etc.)
  • Large collections of personal photographs, particularly snapshots (analog or digital)
  • Blueprints and architectural drawings
  • Large maps
  • Government Documents
  • Yearbooks
  • Artifacts and three-dimensional objects (plaques, medals, trophies, sculptures)
  • Fine art or commercial photography, framed materials, paintings, posters
  • Duplicates (textually or visually identical) of other collection materials
  • Materials held at other libraries or that are otherwise readily available elsewhere 
  • Materials that duplicate the collecting strengths of other collecting institutions
  • Digital or analog reproductions of materials held elsewhere unless integral to collection
  • Partial collections when major portions have already been deposited elsewhere
  • Materials that are damaged beyond repair or use, including mold and vinegar syndrome
  • Materials that require exceptional resources for us to provide proper stewardship including large collections of born digital materials and fragile or damaged materials


If you are interested in discussing the Santa Barbara History Collections or have a potential donation, please contact:

Laura Jean Treat Liebhaber 

Curator, Santa Barbara & Local History

Curator, Film & Television