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Special Collections & Archives at UCSC

news on exhibits, publications, and events featuring our collections


UC Santa Cruz's Regional History Project is proud to announce the publication of Seeds of Something Different: An Oral History of the University of California, Santa Cruz, a masterful two-volume history weaving together first-person accounts of the campus's evolution, from the origins of an audacious dream through the sea changes of five decades. More than two hundred narrators and a trove of archival images from Special Collections & Archives contribute to this dynamic, nuanced account.


Explore SEEDS!

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Here's the podcast recording of co-editor Cameron Vanderscoff talking SEEDS with radio host Richard Eeds remotely for Santa Fe's Talk KTRC 1260! Listen to 22 minutes of stories behind the scenes and illuminating the dreams of SEEDS!

“Archival Research as Penance”: The Papers and Library of Hayden V. White

1 November 2019 - 22 May 2020

Location: Special Collections & Archives Reading Room, McHenry Library - 3rd Floor

Drawing on Hayden White’s newly available archive, this exhibit traces various sites of his intellectual work, teaching, and activism. Materials document his foundational role in building UC Santa Cruz’s pathbreaking History of Consciousness program, his powerful challenges to prevailing ideas of historical interpretation, and his part in a landmark legal ruling in favor of the civil rights of students in the United States which he regarded as one of his proudest accomplishments. In mapping the times and spaces where White elaborated his ideas, Archival Research as Penance invites others to think with him. 
Curated by Christian Alvarado and Patrick King, 2019-2020 Fellows in the Elisabeth Remak-Honnef Center for Archival Research and Training.
Special Collections & Archives is grateful to Margaret Brose, whose generous donation of Hayden White’s archive to the University Library has made this exhibit possible.
Thanks also go to The Humanities Institute for its support of fellowships in the Elisabeth Remak-Honnef Center for Archival Research and Training.

When We Paint Our Masterpiece: The Art of the Grateful Dead Community


LOCATION: Dead Central, on the main level of McHenry Library

Any reference to the Grateful Dead, perhaps the world’s most iconic improvisational band, can easily conjure images in one’s mind of psychedelic tie-dyed clothes, dancing bears, and rose-garlanded skeletons. But just as they defied expectations with their music, the band also inspired in their listeners a diverse visual landscape in response to their songs. 

The creative works presented in When We Paint Our Masterpiece, drawn from the Grateful Dead Archive, reveal a richly envisioned and varied world of design practices, international traditions, visual icons, and art forms. Sent to the band from around the world, these works document the blossoming of a transnational community of Dead Heads even in countries where the band never toured, like Japan. 
This artwork also reveals the deep affection that the band and its staff—who curated the collection piece by piece—had for Dead Heads’ unique and broadly conceived notions of what Grateful Dead-related art could and should be. Pencil sketches, abstract works, portraits, and screenprints share space with sculptures in paper and metal. Repurposed found objects as well as comic art and drawings inspired by the English Arts & Crafts movement a century ago all have a place here. The Grateful Dead’s universe made space for all of these patterns and images.  
These works, considered collectively, offer a powerful example of the possibilities of fan culture. Collaboratively created, expanded, and improvised for over half a century, the art of the Grateful Dead fan community remains vibrant today. Dead Head artists like Miki Saito and others continue to make new art, and as stewards of the Grateful Dead Archive, we “hang it up and see what tomorrow brings,” as Robert Hunter counseled so long ago. 


(card sent to the Grateful Dead from Dead Heads Japan, with art by Miki Saito)

Selected Previous Exhibits

Put Your Gold Money Where Your Love Is, Baby: Counterculture, Capitalism, and the Grateful Dead - Dead Central

11 June 2018 - 23 December 2019

LOCATION: Dead Central, on the main level of McHenry Library

Visit the Digital Exhibit created by co-curator Gabriel Saloman Mindel

This exhibit explores how the band invented, improvised, redefined, and pioneered business practices that revealed new ways of thinking about work, about being in business, and about the relationship between creators and their communities. It draws on the newly processed business records of the band. 

About Put Your Gold Money Where Your Love Is, Baby:

This exhibit was made possible through a generous grant from the Brittingham Family Foundation.

Curated by: Jessica Pigza, Alix Norton, and Gabriel Saloman Mindel

With contributions by: Eric Arvizu, Thomas Bergan, Sean Concannon, and Andy Smith

With special thanks to: The Garcia Family; Eileen Law; Alessia Cecchet, CART Fellow; Marcus Thayer and Ryan Dzialo, Library Operations; Kristy Golubiewski-Davis, Digital Scholarship Commons; Joop Rubens and Linda Hunt, Library Development; all staff and student assistants in Special Collections & Archives; and Elizabeth Cowell, University Librarian

Songs of Labor & Transcendence: The Trianon Press Archive

4 June - 1 December 2019

Location: McHenry Library, 3rd Floor Gallery

Please visit the companion Digital Exhibit.

Learn more about the Trianon Press Archive.

Founded in Paris in 1947, the Trianon Press published an astonishing catalog of fine art books in the latter half of the 20th century. The Press gained particular notoriety for its exceptional facsimile reproductions of the rare illuminated manuscripts of William Blake, while also producing works of unparalleled beauty by such contemporary artists as Paul Cezanne, Marc Chagall, Marcel Duchamp, and Ben Shahn; a series of books showcasing the remarkable prehistoric rock paintings of sub-Saharan Africa; and other volumes featuring Medieval and Renaissance European art and architecture, all created with the unique combination of collotype printing and pochoir hand-stenciling processes. Drawing on published and unpublished materials, business records, and personal materials, Songs of Labor &  Transcendence: The Trianon Press Archive explores the breadth of this renowned press’s publications and how they were made, while also illuminating the historico-political context and the mission of the Trianon Press.

Curated by Jessica Calvanico, Morgan Gates, Hannah Newburn, and Nicholas Whittington, 2018-2019 Fellows in the Elisabeth Remak-Honnef Center for Archival Research and Training.

Education and the Avant Garde: How Fluxus Artists Shaped the Arts at UC Santa Cruz

15 March - 19 May 2019

Location: McHenry Library, 3rd Floor Gallery


Education and the Avant Garde: How Fluxus Artists Shaped the Arts at UC Santa Cruz explores how UC Santa Cruz students and faculty in the late 1960s took inspiration from avant-garde artists as the fledgling campus debated the shape of arts education. A spirit of experimentation and participation, as championed by artists of the Fluxus movement, influenced a number of campus endeavors during this period. This exhibit uses documents, artifacts, and printed works to reveal stories about this transformational creative moment in campus history, including the founding of College Five, the creation of a futuristic comic book-influenced production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and the creation of an ambitious and collaborative year-long experience in which students and visiting artists worked alongside faculty to define the future of arts on campus.

Special Collections & Archives thanks Ruth Solomon, Deena Pewtherer, James Gunderson, Peter Coha, and all the UC Santa Cruz students who participated in the University's “modest experiment in participatory education” in 1967-68. Their contributions and stories made this exhibit possible.

New Twists on Old Tales: 1000 Years of Handmade Books

20 March - 17 May 2019 

Location: Special Collections Reading Room 

Curated by undergraduates in The Art of the Book (a History of Art and Visual Culture course taught by Elisabeth Remak-Honnef), this exhibit examines the history of iconic medieval manuscripts alongside explorations of modern artists' reworkings of structural, thematic, or historical themes within these medieval works.

Pop Up! Movable Books & Art - Special Collections Reading Room

Location: Special Collections & Archives Reading Room
McHenry Library, 3rd Floor

The University Library’s Special Collections & Archives at UC Santa Cruz includes approximately 500 movable books, from commercially produced works to inventive handmade artists’ books. Pop Up! Movable Books & Art features a selection from this collection, including a presentation of work by M.C. Escher, a terrifying tale from Stephen King, and the story of the Tour de France, as well as two works exploring women’s legacies from the Library’s significant artists’ books collection.

Mechanical devices like liftable flaps and revolving wheels were built into scientific and scholarly books as early as the 13th century, but it wasn't until the late nineteenth century, and the explosion of inexpensive color printing technologies, that movable books found their way into the hands of masses of children and adults. Readers today continue to love these books that move, for the hands-on marvel of a simple machine built of folded paper and glue hidden within the flat covers of a book. Artists working in book arts today incorporate moving parts and mechanical structures into their work as well, inventing structures to further push the boundaries of what a book can do.

About this exhibit:

Pop Up! is co-curated by Luisa Haddad and Rebecca Rapp.

Special Collections & Archives is grateful to Ann Gibb and Sandor Nagyszalanczy, whose donated pop-up book collection has made this exhibit possible.

Writing the Space Age: Robert Heinlein, Science Fiction Comics, and the Invention of the Future


15 August 2018 - 24 February 2019

What inspired Americans to embrace the promise of space travel during the first half of the 20th century? What part did creators of what became known as science fiction, and science fiction-themed comics, play in promoting the inventions that enabled us to look to worlds and futures beyond our own? Writing the Space Age considers these questions as it explores books, magazines, and comics that were created and consumed during the rise of the Space Age, with a special focus on how author Robert Heinlein sparked the public’s imagination and inspired scientists, writers, and fans to invent the futures they imagined. 

Robert Heinlein, named the first Science Fiction Writers Grand Master in 1974, was responsible bringing science fiction—or, as he often called it, speculative fiction—to mainstream audiences. His novels and stories appealed to both kids and adults, and his best-selling tales were turned into films, television shows, and spin-off comics. Heinlein’s work, always built upon a firm scientific foundation, has inspired countless people to pursue space research in both private and public sectors. 

Heinlein’s work also shed light on the power of science fiction to explore and question complex social and cultural issues. Science fiction in comic book form has, over its history, evolved  as well, moving from simple tales inspired by western adventures to nuanced stories exploring both the promise and the anxieties of Space Age living. Science fiction comic books continue to inspire readers, writers, and artists to push the boundaries of how this unique storytelling form can inspire us to keep imagining what our futures might include.

While visiting this exhibit, be sure to pick up a copy of the University Library's free comic book, published especially for this exhibit: Rocketship Lunatic, a reimagining of a classic novel by Heinlein (Rocketship Galileo) as an adventure tale in which Heinlein himself participates in a rocket launch!

About this exhibit:

Writing the Space Age features materials from two collections held in Special Collections & Archives at UC Santa Cruz: the Robert A. and Virginia G. Heinlein Papers, and  the James Gunderson and Peter Coha Comic Book Collection. 

Special Collections & Archives is grateful to James Gunderson for his guidance and vision in the creation of Writing the Space Age

Love on Haight: The Grateful Dead and San Francisco in 1967 | 6 June 2017 - 1 May 2018

Love on Haight: The Grateful Dead and San Francisco in 1967

6 June 2017 - 1 May 2018

Take a VIRTUAL TOUR of this exhibit.











Love on Haight: the Grateful Dead and San Francisco in 1967, highlighted materials from multiple collections housed in the Library’s Special Collections & Archives. The exhibit featured posters, photography and ephemera from the Grateful Dead Archive and photographs from Ruth-Marion Baruch’s 1967 Haight-Ashbury series. Additionally, the exhibit included a selection from the Library’s exceptionally rich holdings in alternative publications from this time period: a variety of newspapers and magazines, comic books, literary journals and broadsides as well as political tracts. The audiovisual elements in this exhibit included films about the Summer of Love, snippets of performances and of course, music.

Picturing Nature: Celebrating Science Illustration @ UC Santa Cruz, 24 January - 12 March 2018

Picturing Nature: Celebrating Science Illustration @ UC Santa Cruz

24 January - 12 March 2018

Location: Special Collections & Archives Reading Room
McHenry Library, 3rd Floor

Picturing Nature: Celebrating Science Illustration @ UCSC highlights sources for exploring the history and art of the illustrated natural world. This exhibit includes hand drawn flower studies by world renowned plant ecologist and educator Jean Langenheim when she was a young girl, artists’ books, field journals, seventeenth-century botanical treatises, plant identification guides, and books that explore the long history of plants as medicines. In addition, the newest publication from UC Santa Cruz’s Regional History Project, Teaching Is New Every Day: An Oral History of Science Illustration, will be available for reading at the exhibit.

Pictures and Progress: the Black Panther 1966-2016 - 10 November 2016-1 May 2017

November 10, 2016 - May 1, 2017

Located on the 3rd and 4th floors of McHenry Library

View the digital exhibit here.

The Black Panther Party was officially formed in 1966, shortly after the creation of Marvel Comics Black Panther character. Fifty years later, two interconnected exhibits examine the role of women in the Party and the comic.

Curators explore the role of women in the Party through photographs from the Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch collection, ephemera, and original posters by Emory Douglas. About 40 comics have been selected to explore the portrayal of the Black Panther character and African Americans in the second half of the twentieth century. The curators created a digital exhibit featuring extended analysis of these themes available here.

These exhibits have been curated by crystal am nelson, Cathy Thomas, and Kiran Garcha, PhD students at UC Santa Cruz.

Image: Mother and child, Free Huey Rally, De Fremery Park, Oakland, CA July 28, 1968. Ruth-Marion Baruch.

Reading Nature, Observing Science - 8 June-15 October 2016

June 8-October 15, 2016
Located on the 3rd floor outside of Special Collections
Reading Nature, Observing Science: Examining Material Practices in the Lick Observatory Archives and Kenneth S. Norris Papers examines the Lick Observatory Records and the Kenneth S. Norris Papers through the historical construct of the "book of nature, and questions how science has treated nature as a text to be understood through objective practices of "reading" and which must be carefully reproduced and analyzed through objective modes of representation.
This exhibit was curated by the 2015-2016 fellows of the Center for Archival Research and Training (CART), Danielle Crawford, Alex Moore, and Christine Turk. The exhibit will be accompanied by a digital exhibit, also curated by the CART fellows.
Please join us in celebrating our 2015-2016 CART fellows and their work at the opening for the exhibit on June 8 from 5-6pm on the third floor of McHenry Library.
Image: Kenneth Norris, Laysan Island, 1971.