California and Water: How Did We Get Here?

Hello everyone, my name is Kiera and I am new to the CLIR Water Project. Moving forward, I will be updating you about my experiences with this collection, but first I can tell you a little bit about me. I am a graduate student at Claremont Graduate University in the Cultural Studies program. Cultural Studies draws from a wide array of disciplines--from history to sociology to literary criticism. Outside of school, I work at two different museums in the area, the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona and the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. I have come to Special Collections and the CLIR Water Project by way of my interests in archival work, an interest I developed while working at the Bowers Museum.

I've been here only a few days and already I have discovered some incredibly interesting records in the collection. I am excited to share some of my revelations about this archive. First, however, I thought I'd write about the preconceptions I had as I approached this project.

If you live in California, particularly if you live in Southern California, there is no doubt that water has been an important issue in recent years. As a native Californian, I certainly have my own ideas on water use in our state. As one of the most important resources for human life; it is no coincidence that most major cities have historically been built around bodies of water. This would make the settling of Southern California, most of which is a desert, seem improbable. And yet here we are, thirsty and ready to grow food, so water better keep flowing.

How did we get here? Many historians, environmental scientists, engineers, politicians, and even members of the general public would like to know and are working towards an answer. As I am being introduced to the wide variety of records that we are working to digitize and preserve, I am realizing that the CLIR project has an opportunity to contribute to the answer.

This is an awesome revelation to have during my first few days working on the project, and I cannot wait to see what I dig up that might be useful to future researchers and interested parties. That is one wonderful thing I have learned doing archival work--the answers to life's mysteries could be a turn of a page away.