California residents can now enjoy access to state historical records from the comfort of their homes thanks to a partnership between the California State Archives and tech giant Google.
“People can look at them in their pajamas,” said Deputy State Archivist Rebecca Wendt.
Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced the partnership last week between the state archives, a division of his office, and the Google Cultural Institute. Google has partnered with a number of museums and other institutions to create online, digital collections.
“The historical treasures of the State Archives belong to the people of California, and they should be easily viewable,” Padilla said in a statement Tuesday. “Our partnership with the Google Cultural Institute will allow us to use materials from the State Archives to share stories about the rich history of California. These stories deserve to be shared with the world.”
The CSA is charged with preserving public records and historical documents related to the State of California. With the new partnership, the agency hopes to digitize some of its collection and make them public via online exhibits.
Wendt said Friday that while Google provides the digital platform for sharing the archives, the curation and digitization of the content is done in house. The online exhibits are based on real-life exhibits created by the state archives.
Three exhibits have been launched already – about California state parks, the Secretary of State’s office and Campaigns, Inc., a political consulting firm established in the state in 1933. The exhibits include color and black-and-white photographs and illustrations along with maps, letters and other documents.
“We felt that it’s important that since these are public records, the public should be able to view them,” Wendt said Friday.
Wendt said that in selecting pieces from the archives the team tries to pick items that are “visually interesting” and will reach a large audience. She said they, “don’t make any judgement calls” and try to present the documents for viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Padilla spokesman Sam Mahood said the project will be a “continued partnership” with the Google Cultural Institute. Wendt said that the theme for the next exhibit has not been decided.