The California State Library houses some of California’s most prized possessions. It is where one could find historical documents, 3D collections, law collections, digital collections, genealogy resources, photographs, recordings, artwork and more. It is a place that any history buff could get lost in and lose track of time. Although I do not consider myself a history buff, I did find my visit pretty exciting. I learned something new, and left feeling like I was part of something bigger than myself. You see, I have this uncontrollable urge to touch “old stuff,” because I get to, in a small way, connect to the person it once belonged to.
Tavia Espinoza, 11th grade student at the Met, has been an intern for the Archive room at the California State Library since December of 2015. I can’t express how impressed her mentor is, and how much the library, as well as our community, has benefited from Tavia’s work.
On January 5th, 2016, Tavia began working on archiving Maynard Dixon’s life. Who is Maynard Dixon? Well, I’ll let Tavia answer that: “Maynard Dixon was a 20th-century American artist. He was a celebrity in the art world! He created phenomenal murals and landscapes which inspired both artists and non-artists.” The collection consists of binders, a box of files and framed pictures that all relate to Maynard Dixon and his life. There are 15 binders total, which usually contain anywhere from 21 to 80 documents. There are also boxes of files that contain up to 50 letters each, dating back from 1897 to 1946, There are only 4 pictures of Maynard Dixon, and two images are framed, while the other two are regular photos of him. So, if you have not calculated it in your head, Tavia has quite the task! She believes she will be finished with the collection in June 2017.
During my visit, Tavia showed me around her work area, which looks like your traditional office space. However, the historical documents that were lying around, such as, Western Union telegrams, and letters from and about Maynard, were just phenomenal. I felt like I had traveled back in time. I got to touch the Western Union telegrams!! Maynard’s telegrams! I also had the opportunity to see how things are archived. Some documents are cared for more than others, which has to do with the materials they are made of, as well as the age of the item/document/photo (whatever it may be). I was most impressed by Tavia’s knowledge of Maynard and his life. She began sharing about his earlier years, and his life as an artist, as well as his personal life. It was as if she knew him in another life. And while she never met the man, she really does know him. Tavia has read all of the telegrams, letters, seen his artwork, and archived this man’s life for future generations to enjoy. I had a fantastic time visiting, and learned a great deal.
Thank you, Tavia! Thank you for preserving our rich Californian history.