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2010-2011 NHPRC Grant Completed

San José State University concluded a one-year detailed processing grant supported by the NHPRC. This project award of $99,709 enabled SJSU to process the John C. Gordon Photographic Negatives Collection and the Ted Sahl Social Justice and Black Americana collections. These rich visual resources document the history of Santa Clara County from 1900 to the present.

The project staff arranged and described approximately 15,000 glass plate, acetate and nitrate negatives in the John C. Gordon Photographic Negatives Collection. The negatives include a variety of subjects that illustrate everyday life in the Santa Clara County region, and document the changes in area business ventures such as agriculture, banking, aeronautics, and railroads. Specific subjects and images in the collection include canneries and fruit drying yards, storefronts, community events, educational institutions, and religious and fraternal organizations. Local businesses include the Bisceglia Brothers Canning Company, the Bean Spray Pump Company, the Leonard Coates Nursery, the California Packing Corporation, and the Montgomery Hotel. The project work included preservation and digitization of 525 panoramic nitrate negatives that are now available on our digital library at:

In addition, we arranged and described in detail the Ted Sahl Social Justice and Black Americana Collections, which also included digitization of 135 photographs documenting the LGBT community in San José. These descriptive finding aids will allow for future digitization of the social justice materials, which depict political activism and demonstrations, local farm worker strikes, the homeless, and other disenfranchised groups in the San José area. Specific images in the collection include protests at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and United States Naval bases, anti-nuclear and anti-war demonstration prayer vigils, and Watsonville cannery and farm workers strikes. The materials in the Black Americana collection are comprised of photographs, printed materials, textiles, and three-dimensional objects, including historic postcards, news clippings, sheet music, textiles, and figurines reflecting aspects of the African American experience. The photographic materials include images of celebrities, political rallies, and social events in San José, and will be digitized in the future.

The finding aids are available through OCLC, the Online Archives of California website, and through our library catalog and digital library website. We are pleased to be able to increase access to these historic treasures, and offer new discovery tools for scholars, students, and local researchers.

Danelle Moon
Director/Full Librarian
Daniel Jarvis and Erin M. Louthen, Project Archivists
SJSU Special Collections & Archives


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