Online project catalogs Calif. historical treasures


February 3, 2011 7:19:34 PM PST
"Did you go to a World Series game? Did you keep your ticket?" Those questions were raised Thursday by David Crosson, executive director of the California Historical Society. It is his way of explaining a new project involving his institution and three others.

It's called the California Ephemera Project. Ephemera is a fancy word that basically means the everyday documents of our lives -- the printed things including the menu from your wedding dinner, a campaign flyer from your candidate, ads from a local business, a catalogue from Disneyland.

Items like those dating from the 1800s to the present have been collected and cataloged. People can now find out where those documents are and how to see them by going online and searching a directory of more than a million bits and pieces of California history.

The two-year project was funded by a private grant and used by the Historical Society, the GLBT Society, the Society of California Pioneers and the San Francisco Public Library.

"There was an awful lot of stuff to go through and that's the term we often used ? 'stuff,'" California Historical Society spokesperson Mary Morganti said. "It was filed inconsistently, so this project brought together things that had been separated and it also organized it."

The hidden treasures include a poster advertising a wrestling match between a bear and a lion in 1894, sheet music featuring Bing Crosby songs from 1940 and an ad for a squirrel exterminator.

"You don't have to have something expensive like a painting or a valuable manuscript, a tiny piece of paper can give insight into the past," Society of California Pioneers spokesperson Patricia Keats said.

Right now at the California Historical Society there's a special valentine's exhibit. A glimpse of how people celebrated the day of love over the years.