The California Art Research Archive was developed by Mèlanie Le Torrec as a digital humanities project to enhance the California Art Research collection, by connecting its contents and data to the works of art held by the Bancroft Library. In addition to the finding aid located on the Online Archive of California and the digitization of content, this website was created to allow researchers and the general public a way to visualize the artists’ biographies at a glance or through mapping.

Mèlanie joined the Bancroft Library from the École Nationale Supérieure des Sciences de l’Information et des Bibliothèques for an internship facilitated by Mary Elings, Head of Digital Collections. The Bancroft Digital Collections Unit supported this project with the help of Ai Hua, Mi Hua and Julie Goldsmith.

A WPA Project 

The Work Projects Administration (WPA) was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects.

Two Editions

In the 80s, as most California Art Research Project copies sent to libraries were in terrible condition, Laurence McGilvery, publisher and antiquarian bookseller, lead the project to update the first issue. This second publishing, a microfiche version, includes a continuous pagination, added headings and expanded bibliographies. A 36 pages handbook written by Ellen Halteman Schwartz provides a complete table of contents and includes a historical essay about the WPA California art research project, providing an overview of the context of its fulfillment.

Online Contents

Thanks to a collaboration with San Francisco Public Library, since 2010 the first issue of the CARP has been accessible online through the Internet Archive.

The master of the second publishing, based on microfiche, was donated to the Bancroft Library in December 2013. Considered an archive by the Bancroft library, this second issue, digitized in Spring 2014, is now accessible on OAC.

The Finding Aid of the collection is accessible through both the library catalog and OAC. Catalog records describe the first issue and the microfiche issue.

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