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Processing of Modoc County’s UC Cooperative Extension archival collection underway

Wed, January 12, 2022 5:00 PM to Sat, February 12, 2022 5:00 PM

In a previous post, we shared the California Agricultural Resources Archive (CARA) team’s effort to digitize annual reports found in the Modoc County, UC Cooperative Extension records at the UC Merced Library. These reports contain information that offer insight into the day-to-day operations of UC Cooperative Extension work from the early 1900s. Now that those reports are available online and the collection has a finding aid in the Online Archive of California, we are processing the remaining documents from Modoc County’s collection. Most of these materials date from the mid-twentieth century through the early twenty-first century and are organized into three series: Administrative Files, Ranch and Range Management, and Watershed Projects. This arrangement reflects the original order in which the materials were received. Doing so assists researchers using the collection to understand how farm advisors and specialists conducted their work and organized their notes and records. The materials are then placed in new archival quality folders and boxes (acid and lignin free) to protect the materials from deterioration. The folders are then organized alphabetically and labeled with a title, date range, series and subseries, and the box and folder number.

 

Processing archival collections, however, requires archivists to make decisions when materials appear out of place with their surroundings. In this collection, dispersed throughout were documents related to administrative and directorial activities. For example, there are three folders of speeches written by former farm advisor and county director Cecil Pierce. His speeches reveal Cooperative Extension outreach events and relationships with associated organizations such as schools, Rotary Clubs, and the Cattlemen’s Association. These materials were placed in the Administrative Files series.

Also in this series are agriculture and crop reports produced by farm advisors during the 1940s-1980s.

Frequently, archivists find duplicates of documents and generally retain 2-3 copies of an individual item; extra copies are disposed or returned.

The core subjects found in the collection, however, relate to ranch and rangeland management and watershed projects. Modoc County comprises the northeastern-most area of California, sharing a border with both Oregon and Nevada, and much of the material reflects the extensive livestock operations present there, including livestock grazing on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other governmental organizations. Predominant in the collection are documents pertaining to the Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program (ESP). Crafted by Congress as part of the Public Rangeland Improvement Act of 1978, ESP areas were established across the country to help ease conflicts amongst the various private and public land users and to strategize around restorative projects. The Modoc-Washoe Experimental Stewardship Program is still in operation today.

In the Watershed Projects series are documents created by the Goose Lake Fishes Working Group (GLFWG) which serves as another example of a public and private partnership to restore and conserve the environment in Modoc County. The GLFWG functions to protect the endangered fish in Goose Lake (located in both California and Oregon) and its surrounding tributaries. Information about Goose Lake redband trout, Goose Lake sucker, Goose Lake lamprey, and Goose Lake tui chubs are found in these documents as well as projects to reinforce riparian landscapes and to improve drainage and water flow.

Be on the lookout for many of these items to be digitized and place in the Modoc County, UC Cooperative Extension’s online digital collection. Other topics found in the collection include beef production and costs, livestock diseases, newsletters, selenium and Vitamin E cattle trials, western juniper control and management, and 4-H youth development program materials. Stay tuned!