Thousands of images by photographers Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922–1997) and Pirkle Jones (1914–2009) are now digitized and available on Calisphere, UC Santa Cruz University Library Digital Collections and the Digital Library of America (DPLA). More than 6,000 negatives by the artists were digitized through a collaboration between UC Santa Cruz and CDL. UCSC selected three groups of images to digitize from the collection of 12,000 photographic prints and 30,000 negatives by the artists: A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers (1968-1969), a collaboration by Baruch and Jones on the group; The Death of A Valley (1956), a collaboration between Jones and Dorothea Lange that documented Monticello, a town in Berryessa Valley that disappeared underwater after the completion of the Monticello Dam; and additional photos focusing on San Francisco and the greater Bay Area, including Walnut Grove: Portrait of a Town (1964) another collaboration between Baruch and Jones.
Ruth-Marion Baruch and Pirkle Jones were part of the first class to attend a new photography program at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) founded by Ansel Adams just after World War II. Other faculty included photographers Minor White, Dorothea Lange, and Imogen Cunningham.
Their digitized photos grant an in-depth look into California in the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s, chronicling rural and urban life, most often outside the mainstream, and portraying poverty, upheaval, everyday life, and change. Images range from the landscapes of the Central Valley, to the Black Panthers’ political rallies, to the experience of agricultural workers, yet they frequently focus on children or the interaction between people and animals.
A note: some images may have titles and other metadata that is incomplete, inaccurate or may reflect historical biases and terminology. Many of the images are titled “untitled” because they were never printed or displayed by the photographers. In these cases, the UC Santa Cruz library listed descriptive information from the donor’s inventory in the SubSeries Title field to provide context about the subject of the photographs.