“The Bay Area in the 1970s” is a DH-oriented research project in collaboration with the Bancroft Library and in synch with the American Studies program. The larger project will capitalize on, and work to curate, the excellent Bay Area-related primary source holdings of the Berkeley library system, and will be linked to a course (also titled “The Bay Area in the Seventies”) to be regularly offered in the American Studies program. This course will introduce a group of undergraduates to the work of primary archival research and ask them to build a set of digital exhibitions around topics such as “The 70s Food Revolution” or “The Origins of the Disabilities Rights Movement” (topics in which the Bancroft has impressive holdings).

While the subject of “Berkeley in the 1960s” has been much explored and meditated upon, the subject of “Berkeley in the 1970s” (or the larger region in the 1970s) has been much less so. Here the Berkeley library system has a host of primary resources waiting to be tapped — for instance, the Chez Panisse Collection, the Social Protest Collection, the Disability Rights and Defense Fund Collection, the NAACP West Coast Regional Collection, and the Thom Gunn Collection at the Bancroft; the United Farm Workers materials at the Ethnic Studies library; and the Prop 13 Collection at the Institute for Governmental Studies. Some of these collections are relatively small, others extremely expansive. 

I anticipate teaching the “Bay Area in the 1970s” course on a regular basis, each year developing new research projects for the course while using the DH platform that will be built in the coming seven months. Perhaps the best analogue — in terms of functionality, though not in terms of design (as parts of it date from the early 2000s) — is the Pacific Northwest Labor and Civil Rights Project, a University of Washington- sponsored site that has attracted over 6 million page views since 2007, and has become part of the region’s history curriculum on every educational level. My hope is that “The Bay Area in the 1970s” website will — while showcasing Berkeley’s library holdings for advanced researchers everywhere — also come to serve a curricular function for high school and college students. In addition, I imagine that, once we’ve decided upon the particular research rubrics, we will connect with community organizations that have an interest in the particular topics. For instance, LGBT organizations could be connected to a digital exhibition around LGBT struggles in the 1970s, or the Berkeley Food Institute might be connected to a food-centered research project.

The larger project will thus have three “deliverables” at once:
(1) It will draw undergraduates into the work of analyzing and digitally curating primary sources;
(2) It will spotlight the Berkeley library’s special collections, through acts of curation that draw out their resonance and significance; and
(3) It will serve as an educational resource for historians (at the college level), for history teachers (at the secondary level), and for community organizations with an interest in the specific materials presented.

Project type