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Storymapping Project Underway with Merced County 4-H

Tue, March 2, 2021 11:30 AM

Last December, Emily Lin, Head of Digital Curation and Scholarship at UC Merced Library, announced an exciting new partnership between the Library and the Merced County 4-H Club. After the Library acquired the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) archives, a key objective has been to share this incredible resource with the community. With this aim in mind, we developed the 4-H StoryMapping Project. The project seeks youth engagement with the digitized items of the UCCE archival records for Merced County, a vast collection that dates back to 1916 and includes primary source documents and photographs about irrigation, fires, home economics, crops, dairy, and much more. A large portion of the collection is 4-H material that highlights the extraordinary work the organization has done to create experiences for youth in which they “learn by doing.” Below are just a few of the photographs from the UCCE collection that document 4-H-ers in Merced County.




1. 4-H members in front of bus, 1959

2. 4-H girl and cow, c. 1967

3. Boys give presentation, c. 1957

4. Group of girls, c. 1957

5. Radish garden, undated

6. Boy standing on rope, 1990

The images show youth participating in a variety of activities that include gardening, livestock shows, rope courses, poster presentations and more. In the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic, these types of experiences are on hold until it is safe again to gather collectively. So, the 4-H Storymapping Project comes at the perfect time. Project meetings are conducted on Zoom, and content providers from the UCM Library and the Spatial Analysis & Research Center (SpARC) conduct lessons through online tutorials, aimed to engage our youth participants in local historical research – just like historians! 

As the Project Archivist for UC Merced’s California Agricultural Resources Archive (CARA), I have shared with our youth participants the ways that primary source documents can illuminate obscure and forgotten historical information and artifacts. After conducting searches in the digital collection, they have decided on research topics for their StoryMaps, a digital platform that allows users to integrate text, documents, audio-visual materials, and maps to construct historical narratives.

Youth participants use online teaching tools to think about research areas found in CARA.        

UC Merced Library staff help 4-H youth to take broad themes found in the UCCE collection and develop research questions for their StoryMaps.

Participants will have the opportunity to present their final projects to 4-H leaders and community members through online venues. We are excited to see what they come up with. Stay tuned for updates!