UCR Library Launches Inland Empire Memories Initiative

Effort will identify, preserve and make available documents of the region’s diverse and rich cultural history 

photos of Tomas Rivera

These photos of former UCR Chancellor Tomás Rivera as a young child and high school senior are included in the Inland Empire Memories Initiative.

That legacy deserves recognition and ought to be preserved for future generations, UC Riverside University Librarian Steven Mandeville-Gamble said in announcing the Inland Empire Memories Initiative.

The initiative is a collecting program that will identify, preserve, make available, and interpret the rich cultural legacies of the diverse communities of the Inland Empire, Mandeville-Gamble explained. It will seek out and acquire personal papers, organizational records, political files, and other documentary evidence that chronicles the lives and activities of artists, authors, poets, cultural and social leaders, civil rights leaders, cultural organizations, political figures, religious leaders and business people from the many cultural groups that make up the rich tapestry of the Inland Empire, he added.

“The collecting program emphasizes acquiring collections of individuals and organizations whose work has fundamentally shaped the lived experiences of the people in the Inland area since the 1800s, with particular emphasis on the 20th century onward,” Mandeville-Gamble said. “The collecting program particularly emphasizes documenting the lives of peoples and groups historically underrepresented in the historical record.”

Guiding the initiative will be an advisory board of UCR faculty from several disciplines; UCR Libraries staff; a student from the UCR Ethnic and Gender Program Offices; and members of the community.

UCR students, faculty, the public and scholars around the world will benefit from the Inland Empire Memories Initiative, particularly as an anticipated digitization effort makes many of the records available online, the UCR librarian said.

photo of Eliza Tibbets and book

Eliza Tibbets introduced the navel orange tree to Riverside.

The initiative builds on archives and collections of personal papers, photographs and other records UCR Libraries has gathered over the decades, such as those of the late Rep. George E. Brown, whose leadership in Congress resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency; former UCR Chancellor Tomás Rivera, a poet and the first minority chancellor in the UC system; Native American scholars Rupert and Jeannette Costo, whose scholarship and activism began to steer depictions of Native Americans away from long-held stereotypes toward historical accuracy; biographer Patricia Ortlieb’s research on Eliza Tibbets, the woman whose introduction of the navel orange tree to Riverside spawned a thriving citrus industry in the 19th century; U.S. Air Force veteran Gurthalee Clark, whose records form the basis of a collection on African-American women in the military; and Hollywood publicist Armando del Moral , who represented the Mexican film actors union Asociación Nacional de Actores, and his wife, Amelia.

“We have these great disparate collections but no rubric to hold them together,” Mandeville-Gamble said. “The Inland Empire Memories Initiative gives us a framework to understand how these collections fit together and fill in the gaps.”

Among the individuals or groups whose papers or oral histories the initiative hopes to pursue are residents who worked with Cesar Chavez in the effort to organize farmworkers; the late Press-Enterprise Publisher Howard H “Tim” Hays, who won two U.S. Supreme Court cases that fundamentally redefined freedom of the press; local women authors; Native American elders and scholars; and citrus farmers who continue to contribute to the region’s agriculture industry.

“We want people here and around the world to understand that events in the region had local and national impact,” Mandeville-Gamble said. “Even people who participated in some of these events might not think of themselves as having an historical impact, but they did. Their children and grandchildren often don’t know the role they played in larger, significant events. We want to preserve their photos, their diaries and letters so that history isn’t lost.”

collage of AKA sorority

Eta Nu Omega is the local chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first Greek-lettered sorority established by African-American college women. This Founders Day photo is from 1993-94.