Western Sonoma County Historical Society Collection Complete

Looking north on North Main Street at Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol, circa 1960s

Looking north on North Main Street at Bodega Avenue in Sebastopol, circa 1960s

I’m pleased to announce completion of the WSCHS Collection in the Heritage Collections. The collection created by volunteers at the West County Museum in Sebastopol, Calif. currently contains nearly 7000 historical images from Sebastopol and western Sonoma County. Luther Burbank and his Gold Ridge Experiment Farm, the Petaluma & Santa Rosa Railroad, and the local apple industry get a lot of space in the collection, but it also includes hundreds of portraits, extensive architectural images (including those from Evelyn McClure’s Sebastopol, California : History, Homes and People, 1855-1920) and snapshots of daily life in the area. As with our other collections, many images (except for portraits) are paired with a  Google StreetView image for a “then & now” experience; multiple photographs of some houses and other building can provide a different view of changes over time.

Bringing this collection into the Heritage Collections demonstrates the synergy of shared resources. For the library, the new virtual collection broadens the existing collections by filling in many gaps in our holdings; for the WSCHS, the existing Heritage Collections give additional context to their collection, and even more importantly, makes it visible to their members, the community and the world. As I noted in my earlier post, the WSCHS catalogs their materials with the museum software platform PastPerfect, but  does not have the web component, so this is the first time the full scope of the West County Museum’s images can be explored outside the museum’s walls.

We will incorporate new images into the WSCHS collection annually as Historical Society volunteers continue to scan existing and new donations.

Examples of “then and now” for the George A. Strout House on Florence Avenue in Sebastopol

George A. Strout House, 253 Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, Calif., Feb. 24, 2008

George A. Strout House, 253 Florence Avenue, Sebastopol, Calif., Feb. 24, 2008    (Sonoma County Library Photograph Collection)

Making More Stuff Accessible

In the coming months, we’ll work with Internet Archive and Luna Imaging to digitize a lot of exciting material and making it available through our site, including:

  • Roughly 350 pre-1923 imprints and copyright-cleared materials from the Sonoma County Wine Library
  • 35 oral history transcripts from Sonoma County wine makers — along with the audio interviews
  • 1800 wine labels from Sonoma County wineries
  • Historical photos and films from the Sonoma County Fair

Many of the pre-1923 materials in the Wine Library have already been digitized and are available through Google Books, Hathi Trust and the Internet Archive — with our project, we expect to make the entire set of older materials available online.