This is a primary source photo collection on Californios, elite families that received large land grants from Spain and Mexico, flourished during the 1830s to 1880s. The hand-drawn diseño maps underscore their vital connection to land ownership. The more formal surveyed maps that followed US acquisition of California show changing values regarding land ownership. As Californios lost land and power in the late 19th century, they tried to adapt to these changes by using social networks to maintain their identities as elites. The formal portraits were one way to bolster this image. Photographs of the Ramona Pageant from the 1950s testify to the mythologizing of California's Mexican and Spanish pastoral heritage less than 100 years later.
The 20th century ushered in a change from handcrafting to machine tooling. Henry Ford introduced one of the first moving assembly lines as a way to turn out more cars more quickly, and the emerging auto industry popularized this mode. A photo of the Doble Steam Motors Corporation factory shows a line of workers and car chassis in production. This new technology, and the spread of industrialization, changed forever the way that work was completed. A wide variety of industries all across the country converted to mechanization, and California was no exception. One 1929 image shows young women working in a towel factory in Orange. Photographs taken in San Francisco illustrate that workers used machines to make products as different as Ghirardelli Chocolate and music rolls for automated player pianos. Images also show women working on an assembly line in a soap factory, and men sewing clothes in a shop (at a time when a good suit, cut on machines instead of by hand, retailed for $40 to $50). Automation and mechanization also changed agricultural practices. The combined traction steam harvester built by Stockton J. Barry on his California ranch was one of the machines that changed the way produce was harvested. Mechanized canning changed the way fruit and vegetables were processed and preserved, and made out-of-season produce available year round. Photographs in this group show cannery workers at tables, and cans going through a labeling machine. The introduction of mechanized food processing eventually brought a new awareness of the importance of standards for foods production. The Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act were both passed in 1906. As workers nationwide adjusted to an increasingly mechanized workplace, good working conditions took on new importance. Workers in several industries formed unions (such as the Berryessa Fruit Growers formed in 1920, shown here) to promote safer working conditions and limit maximum working hours.
Starting with the Gold Rush, Chinese migrated to California and other regions of the United States in search of work. As several photographs show, many Chinese found work in the gold mines and on the railroads. They accepted $32.50 a month to work on the Union Pacific in Wyoming in 1870 for the same job that paid white workers $52 a month. This led to deep resentment by the whites, who felt the Chinese were competing unfairly for jobs. White labor unions blamed the Chinese for lower wages and lack of jobs, and anti-Chinese feelings grew. The cartoon "You Know How It Is Yourself" expresses this sentiment. Several political cartoons in this topic are graphic representations of racism and conflicts between whites and Chinese. "Won't They Remain Here in Spite of the New Constitution?" shows a demonized figure of political corruption protecting Chinese cheap labor, dirty politicians, capital, and financiers. "The Tables Turned" shows Denis Kearney (head of the Workingman's Party of California, a union that had criticized Chinese laborers) in jail, being taunted by Chinese men. In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes signed the Chinese Exclusion Treaty, which placed strict limitations on the number of Chinese allowed to enter the United States and the number allowed to become naturalized citizens. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited immigration from China (The Act was not repealed until 1943). The two-part cartoon from the July-December 1882 issue of The Wasp reflects how some citizens saw the situation. After the Act was passed, anti-Chinese violence increased. One illustration depicts the Rock Springs Massacre of 1885, a Wyoming race riot in which 28 Chinese were killed by British and Swedish miners. The "Certificate of Residence" document illustrates that Chinese individuals were required to prove their residence in the United States prior to the passage of the Exclusion Act. The poster offering a reward for Wong Yuk, a Chinese man, makes it clear that the United States was actively deporting Chinese. Despite discrimination and prejudice, this first wave of immigrants established thriving communities. Photographs taken in San Francisco's Chinatown show prosperous businesses, such as the "Chinese Butcher and Grocery Shop." Wealthy merchants formed active business associations, represented by the image "Officers of the Chinese Six Companies." The Chinese celebrated their heritage by holding cultural festivals, as shown in the photograph from 1896. The photographs "Children of High Class," "Golden Gate Park," and "Chinese Passengers on Ferry" are evidence that some Chinese adopted Western-style clothing while others wore more traditional attire.
In 1948, President Harry Truman took an early step towards civil rights reform by issuing Executive Order 9981, which eliminated racial segregation in the military. After World War II, African Americans ? then often called Negroes or "coloreds," began to mobilize against discrimination. They demanded an end to segregation and fought for equality in education, housing, and employment opportunities. The images in this topic show that by the 1960s, their struggle ? which began in the segregated South ? had reached California. As a number of photographs in this topic show, many Californians showed their support for Civil Rights activists and victims of racial discrimination in the South by holding marches, rallies, and demonstrations urging equality for African Americans. In one image three white children in San Francisco hold a sign in support of the four young black girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Photographs also show people in San Francisco boycotting Kress and Woolworth's department stores, sites of racial discrimination in the South. Documents shown here include a flyer urging the boycott of the stores; and a Western Union telegram sent in 1963, stating that Civil Rights activists Roy Wilkins and Medgar Evers were arrested attempting to picket Woolworth's in Jackson, Mississippi. Two photographs of memorials for slain civil rights leaders ? a march in honor Medgar Evers in 1963, in Los Angeles, and a memorial in the San Francisco Bay Area for Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 ? show racially mixed crowds in attendance. But not all Californians sympathized with the Civil Rights movement. Images of racial hatred and prejudice are reflected in the photograph of an African American woman holding a rock that had been thrown through an office window, and Klu Klux Klan graffiti spray-painted on a home. Various groups formed to fight in the struggle for equal rights. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), formed in 1909, entered a new phase during this period, leading in the organized struggle for civil rights. An example of how the NAACP communicated about events is reflected in a letter from the Alameda County branch of the NAACP on June 13, 1950, which reported segregation on the Southern Pacific Railroad trains leaving Los Angeles. A flyer promoting the boycott of California grapes exemplifies NAACP support for other rights movements, in this case the United Farm Workers. Other flyers urged Californians to fight sharecropper wages and "Keep Mississippi Out of California." Groups such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and student groups also protested segregation and incidents of racial discrimination in the South. Several important African American leaders ? including Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, and Ralph Abernathy ? all came to California, as documented by photographs included here. Sometimes, the price of fighting for social justice was high. Two images capture events held for leaders in the social justice movement who were assassinated: the 1963 memorial march in Los Angeles for civil rights leader Medgar Evers; and a crowd attending a Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial Rally in honor of the slain civil rights leader.
In 1931, a severe drought hit the Southern and Midwestern plains. As crops died and winds picked up, dust storms began. As the "Dust Bowl" photograph shows, crops literally blew away in "black blizzards" as years of poor farming practices and over-cultivation combined with the lack of rain. By 1934, 75% of the United States was severely affected by this terrible drought.The one-two punch of economic depression and bad weather put many farmers out of business. In the early 1930s, thousands of Dust Bowl refugees ? mainly from Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, and New Mexico ? packed up their families and migrated west, hoping to find work. Entire families migrated together (such as the men shown in "Three generations of Texans now Drought Refugees") in search of a better life. Images such as "Midcontinent ? Family Standing on the Road with Car," "Drought Refugees," and "Untitled, ca. 1935 (Worn-Down Family in Front of Tent)" offer a glimpse into their experience on the road, and show that cars provided many families both transportation and shelter on the road. About 200,000 of the migrants headed for California. The state needed to figure out how to absorb the thousands of destitute people crossing its borders daily. One of their tactics was to document the plight of the refugees. In 1935, photographer Dorothea Lange joined the Rural Rehabilitation Division of the California State Emergency Relief Administration (SERA), a section of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. She was assigned the job of using her camera to document the growing number of homeless Dust Bowl refugees migrating to California. She worked with Paul S. Taylor, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who was researching conditions of rural poverty in order to make recommendations on how to improve the workers' conditions. The work by Taylor and Lange played an important role in helping to raise public awareness of the crisis. The reports they made for the government included both data and striking images that revealed the desperate conditions in which the migrants lived and confirmed the need for government intervention. Stark images such as "Home of Oklahoma Drought Refugees" resonated with the public, and portraits of drought refugees like "Ruby from Arkansas" and others shown in this topic humanized the migrants for more fortunate citizens. In March 1936, Lange took what became one of her most famous images, "Migrant Mother." This image of a 32-year-old woman became an icon for the suffering of ordinary people during Great Depression.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which established 10 internment camps for "national security" purposes. Although most internment camps were along the West Coast, others could be found in Wyoming and Colorado, and as far east as Arkansas. One photo shows Japanese American boys in San Francisco shortly before the evacuation order; another shows a woman waiting for the evacuation bus in Hayward; approximately 660 people being evacuated by bus from San Francisco on the first day of the program; and an aerial image of people sitting on their belongings, waiting to be taken to Manzanar. The government-sponsored War Relocation Authority (WRA) hired Dorothea Lange and other photographers to take pictures of the relocation and internment of Japanese Americans. Lange?s photographs, some of which were suppressed by the WRA and only released later, often capture the irony inherent in the situation. Although internees were allowed to take only what they could carry with them to the camps, one Lange photo juxtaposes a bus poster "Such a load off my mind ? Bekins stored my things" next to a pile of internees' belongings. Another striking Lange image shows a Japanese American-owned corner store with a large "I am an American" banner hanging beneath a "Sold" sign. Another photograph of an engine's distributor, removed from a car owned by an internee, showed that people were truly prisoners at the camp, unable to drive their own cars away. Several paintings by interned Japanese American artists Henry Sugimoto and Hisako Hibi reflect their emotional experiences and give viewers a sense of what life was like for them. The paintings express the pain, suffering, and anger of those subjected to internment. Over 100,000 Japanese American men, women, and children were relocated and detained at these camps. Photographs here show people of all ages, including a grandfather and grandchild, and young children. This internment is now recognized as a violation of their human and civil rights. In 1980, the US government officially apologized and reparations were paid to survivors.
The 1960s and early 1970s were characterized by a series of protests as groups that had long felt disempowered sought to make their voices heard. California was the heart of many of these new movements. The protests put into motion by the Civil Rights movement evolved to address social justice issues affecting many groups, including students facing the draft, ordinary people protesting the war, farm workers fighting for better working conditions, Chicanos expressing a new identity, and African Americans who felt that nonviolence as a tactic was no longer working. America's continued involvement in the Vietnam War galvanized many groups. Across the United States, students protested US involvement in the war by resisting the draft. All sorts of people joined in by disrupting "business as usual," marching, and going on strike. One photograph shows a banner declaring "On Strike" hanging over UC Berkeley's Sather Gate; the deserted campus demonstrates widespread support among both faculty and students. Other photographs depict students marching in protest against the war, signing a "Women for Peace" petition, and waving an American flag in an anti-war parade. The Chicano Moratorium Committee protested the war by marching in parades, but they also registered their own social justice agenda: one photograph shows them carrying banners that read, "Our fight is in the barrio, not Vietnam."People also rallied around workers' rights, pushing boundaries and demanding better working conditions. The United Farm Workers (UFW), co-founded and led by Cesar Chavez, used strikes to protest the unfair treatment that California's mainly Mexican field workers received. In one photograph pickets stand at the edge of a Central California grape field and carry placards that say "Huelga," Spanish for "strike." Another photograph shows UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta addressing a group. Groups demanding their rights did not work in isolation; a 1971 letter from Cesar Chavez to the NAACP reflects the support that existed between the two groups, both of which were fighting for equal treatment under the law. The Oakland, California-based Black Nationalist organization, the Black Panther Party, was fighting for social justice on several fronts, in a way that often confused their more moderate supporters. They strongly promoted important and positive social issues such as free clinics, programs to feed children, and drug rehabilitation programs; yet, at the same time, they embraced controversial and at times violent tactics. Although Panthers were involved in violent clashes with police, it is still unclear whether the Panthers initiated these actions or were simply defending themselves against police violence directed at them. Many of the Panther leaders were persuasive and charismatic speakers, and photographs here show many of them in action: Black Panther Minister of Defense Huey Newton and his wife, Gwen; Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale in jail; members of the Black Panthers at a press conference; Kathleen Cleaver in a prosecutor's office; and Angela Davis in Los Angeles speaking to the press after a Black Panther shootout. When Huey Newton was put on trial in 1968, accused of murdering a police officer, Black Panthers lined up on the second day of trial to show their support. Another image shows a multiracial crowd gathered at a Huey Newton rally in 1969 at San Francisco's Federal Building.
In 1862, Congress passed and President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Bill, which granted public land and funds to build a transcontinental railroad. The Central Pacific Railroad would lay tracks from California heading east, and the Union Pacific Railroad would lay tracks from the Missouri River west. The photograph taken in Placer County, "Grading the Central Pacific Railroad," shows some of the construction. Work on the railroad was physically difficult and at times dangerous, and attracting workers was a challenge. The majority of the Central Pacific's laborers were Chinese. A Chinese worker is shown in the image "Heading (top cut) of East Portal, Tunnel No. 8." Both railroad companies actively recruited Chinese laborers because they were regarded as hard workers and were willing to accept a lower wage than white workers, mostly Irish immigrants. As construction progressed, the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific competed to see which could lay the most track each day. A photograph of a sign near Promontory Park, Utah, commemorates the day that Central Pacific crews laid an unprecedented 10 miles of track. The meeting of the two sets of tracks ? the "gold spike" ceremony ? took place on May 10, 1869. Several photographs and drawings depict this historic moment. Now the country was connected as never before: a journey between San Francisco and New York that previously took up to six months now took only days. The photograph "High Bridge in Loop," from Views from a Trip to California, shows a train passing quickly through a mountain pass. The transcontinental railroad allowed people to travel more, farther, and in pleasant conditions, as reflected in the photograph "Commissary Car, 'Elkhorn Club.'" The photograph "Knights of Pythias at the Santa Fe Railway Station, Anaheim" shows an example of the popularity of trains. Even as the transcontinental railroad brought the new country together, it brought change to the world of Native Americans. The tracks ran through a number of tribal territories, bringing into conflict cultures that held very different views of the land and how it might be used and lived on. The painting The First Train, by Herbert Schuyler, depicts three Indians pointing past their encampment at a train in the far distance. The railroad also brought an increasing number of European Americans west. One consequence of this influx was the depletion of the buffalo herds, a major food source for Plains Indians. European Americans would often shoot buffalo for sport from the train; by 1880, the buffalo were mostly gone and Plains Indians had been gathered onto reservations. Millions of acres of open grassland were being settled by the people moving west. Eventually, much of this land became the farmland that fed a growing nation. The transcontinental railroad opened up the West to the rest of the country, even if they never made the trip themselves. A Currier & Ives hand-colored lithograph depicts a train running along the Truckee River in Northern California. The San Francisco publishing firm of Lawrence & Houseworth hired photographers and published photographic tourist catalogs containing views of the West, which they sold commercially. The railroad took hold in popular culture, as shown by sheet music for the song "New Express Galop [sic]." There was even a railroad board game illustrating "Railroads Between New York and San Francisco, California, with Scenes on the Way."