Several special fighting forces from the United States, made up of single ethnic groups, made significant contributions during World War II, including the African American Tuskegee Airmen and the Navajo Code Talkers. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team was made up solely of Japanese Americans, some of whom were recruited directly from internment camps. (Some Japanese American men who would later become leaders, such as Senator Daniel Inouye, were members of the 442nd.) The images in this group provide a look at the lives and sacrifices of the men of the 442nd, the most highly decorated American unit in WWII. The photographs in this group were all taken for the government-run War Relocation Authority (WRA) and are meant to portray the proud patriotism of the men and their families. One photo shows three women holding their babies, with photographs of their enlisted husbands. Another is a portrait of an older couple who had five sons in the 442nd. Other photographs reflect the training the soldiers of the 442nd received, their life in the battlefield, and their triumphant homecoming. Other documents in this group show a more personal side of the men of the 442nd. One soldier's photo album depicts his personal experiences as a member of the combat team. A 50-page booklet, The Story of the 442nd Combat Team, compiled by members of the team, has this quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt on the dedication page: "Americanism is a matter of the mind and heart; Americanism is not and never was a matter of race and ancestry." On a more poignant note, oil paintings by Japanese American artist Henry Sugimoto reflect the emotions, pain, and suffering these individuals and their families experienced as a result of the war. In Senninbari (Thousand Stiches), a woman holds a scarf of remembrance as a ghostly Nisei soldier looks down from the sky. And in Send Off Husband at Jerome Camp, an internee family stays behind the camp gates as their soldier father/husband goes off to fight for the United States.
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The government-sponsored Bracero Program was the temporary importation of workers from Mexico to aid the American agricultural economy. This was an important historical event that many Americans are unaware of today. A bracero (from brazo, the Spanish word for arm) was a Mexican worker allowed entry into the United States for a limited time, usually to work on a farm. In 1942, facing an extreme shortage of farm labor workers due to the war, Congress enacted the Emergency Labor Program. It approved the temporary immigration of thousands of Mexican workers to replace the American men who were in the armed services. During the 22 years of the Bracero Program, more than 4 million Mexican workers left their families behind and came to work in the fields of California. This migration had an enormous and lasting impact on the economy and demographics of California. The photograph "Battle for Work" shows hundreds of Mexican workers waiting at the border to be selected for the Bracero Program. The contrast between Mexico and the United States at this time is shown in the photograph of the dusty streets of Mexicali in "Street Scene of Mexicans Awaiting Legal Employment in the United States" and "View from Mexicali Toward the United States." Many Mexican workers were eager to be selected for the Bracero Program. "Battle for Work" shows hundreds of Mexican workers massed at the border, hoping to be chosen. Some of the images in this group show the arrival of the first braceros by train. Some of these photographs were taken by photographer Dorothea Lange as part of a government assignment to document this event.
The large development projects of the 1930s, designed to serve a growing population, helped shape California in many ways. Most are still integral today. Photographs show the progress of two massive Northern California projects: the Golden Gate Bridge, which links San Francisco and Marin County, and the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco with Oakland and the East Bay. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognized bridges in the world. It is unique not only because of its vermilion orange color: this steel suspension bridge, with a 4,200-foot-long central span and two towers that are 746 feet tall, is the largest ever built. The photographs in this group, taken between 1933 and 1934, show the various phases of construction from different perspectives, looking down, up, and across the span as it was being built. Some photos also show the workers who helped build this famous structure. The Golden Gate Bridge was built under the direction of Joseph Baermann Strauss, an Ohio-born engineer who built more than 400 bridges. The portrait of Strauss also shows the partially built bridge in the background. The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicles and pedestrians in 1937. The Bay Bridge construction began in 1933, and the span opened to vehicles in 1936. At 8.25 miles, it is the world?s longest steel bridge. The bridge consists of twin suspension bridges. Many of the photos show workers on catwalks with cables and pulleys, building the bridge. Growing cities also created greater demands for resources, including electrical power. The building of powerhouses like the Pitt River Power House and the Las Plumas Power House near Oroville, shown here, helped to meet this need. Southern California also saw large construction projects. One image in this group shows the San Vicente Dam under construction.A few of these images were taken by Jervie Henry Eastman, who established Eastman's Studio in 1921. His photographs were often turned into picture postcards, such as the one of the oil rigs along Ocean Boulevard in Huntington Beach, in 1935.
These images of the California missions show the transformation of the mission structures over the past two centuries. Some show the types of people who would have lived in or visited the missions. The missions mark California’s Spanish colonial past, and remain today as sites for community gatherings and heritage.
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.
California has always been a place of cultural interaction. Early California evolved and changed with each new group of settlers. These images depict the developing interconnectedness of California's early cultures. They also underscore the importance of movement and later settlement of peoples in California. Some of the modern images underscore the contested and often romanticized nature of California’s Spanish and Mexican heritage. This is a collection of primary source images.
The images in this topic depict everyday life in California during a time of explosive growth. Even as the state’s mix of cultures became more interconnected, they still managed to maintain and express their unique identities. People at work, at play, posing for formal portraits, and simply walking down the street are part of a diverse and vibrant population.
These images show the importance of both California's natural and human resource potential to the state’s development and subsequent wealth. Natural resources like water, lumber, and oil — along with human-driven resources like transportation, agriculture, and technology — have all contributed to California's growth. These natural resources drew many different ethnic groups to the state: human resources that would construct railways and aqueducts, plant crops and harvest them, strike it rich in oil or minerals, and innovate new technology.
The images in this topic show how Californians in the late 19th century worked and played. Many of these photographs reflect the manual labor (mining, logging, agriculture) and services (like barber shops and grocery stores) that supported the rapid growth of cities and towns. As they do today, people spent their free time doing quiet activities like painting, enjoying themselves outdoors, riding bicycles and camping.
The images in this topic offer a glimpse of the ways people in cities and towns across California relaxed and entertained themselves during the first half of the 20th century. As new technologies and improved communications brought changes to the work week, people had more free time and new choices about how to spend it.
The images in this topic provide a look at the everyday lives of Californians during the decade of the 1930s. Although many people struggled to survive during the Great Depression, these photographs also show that some still found employment, and many managed to enjoy themselves despite the hard economic times.
These images by Los Angeles–based photographer Maynard L. Parker show suburban homes in California in the two decades following World War II. Many appeared in popular house and design magazines of the era. They offered middle–class consumers a new way of living that emphasized a relaxed, low–maintenance, private, indoor–outdoor experience.
The images in this topic provide a look at the everyday lives of Californians just before, during, and shortly after the years that the United States entered World War II. Although many men and women joined the military, many stayed home. These photographs show men, women, and children at work—many in war-related industries—at play, and at home. They also provide a glimpse into the lives of Japanese Americans, who were forced off their property and housed in internment camps for the duration of the war.
The images in this topic provide a glimpse into the daily lives and changing lifestyles of Californians during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, as the country moved from postwar to protest. From birthday parties and family meals to homecoming rallies and political protests, these photographs reflect how life looked during those years. Two images show Californians interacting with political figures who shaped those decades.
Historical images on a map of California show city scenes throughout the state in the late-19th and early-to-mid-20th centuries.
Historical images on a map of California show the development of civic buildings--missions, courthouses, city halls, and the State Capitol building--throughout the state.
Historical images on a map of California show everyday life throughout the state in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Historical images on a map of California show the development of transportation in the mid-1800s through early 1900s.
Historical images show San Francisco’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) pride parades in 1977 and 1978.Currently one of the largest and most well known LBGT events in the world, in these years the parade took on its identity as a potent symbol of LGBT politics and culture.
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.