June 2018 Archives

The Plot Thickens

This week I continued to work on metadata and upload letters from Charles Frankish. Now that I have worked on so many letters, I am starting to recognize names and patterns in the documents. It is almost as if I am reading a long, abstract novel where characters and events are related to the reader through Frankish's perspective. It took many letters before I could recognize stories developing and a lot of work for me to piece the narrative back together since the letters are all outgoing mail. However, it is a rewarding and exciting feeling to open up a file and find a clue to what is happening in Ontario, California in the 1880s. Now, when I see a familiar name I get an idea of how Charles Frankish will address them, what the letter will discuss, etc. And different events develop over the course of many letters, such as the construction of the electric railway that I mentioned last week. Each letter on a certain topic updates me on the progress and setbacks that Frankish encountered so many years ago.

So Many Uploads!

This week I have done so much metadata for the Charles Frankish letters. It is incredible the amount of letters that I have been able to get through this week. I have uploaded nearly 200 new letters on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. I wish I had more to say about the letters, but most of them detail various business transactions for the Ontario Land Company. In particular these letters provide information about property values, the sale of land, and water stocks. Some of the more interesting topics include the construction of an electric railway in Ontario as well as the development of a commercial center in the new city. These letters haven't been particularly interesting to me, but the facts and figures included in these letters could provide researchers with useful data. Check them out on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library!

Good-bye Chaffey, Hello Frankish

After months of creating metadata for the Chaffey brothers, I am finally done uploading the Chaffey letters to the digital library! This is an exciting moment because now researchers can access all of the letters in our collection online. I have written blog posts before about the various historical narratives that can be gleaned from these narratives, and I hope others find that to be true the next time they visit the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. It seems odd that I have read almost every Chaffey letter in our collection and now I am done. There are no more Chaffey letters left for me to read.

Now I turn to Charles Frankish and the large collection of letters from him that we have in our collection. After the Chaffey brothers established Ontario, California they moved to Australia to start a new colony based on the success of the Ontario colony. They left Ontario in the hands of Charles Frankish who continued to develop the city. Creating metadata for Charles Frankish is much easier given the context I have from the Chaffey brothers' letters. Charles Frankish had to respond to many of the same issues that the Chaffey brothers dealt with. However, new plans were also being made as the city grew rapidly.

For example, several letters from 1887 refer to an electric railway being constructed along an eight-mile strip of Euclid Avenue. It's fascinating to read the letters in chronological order because I feel like I am watching a city being built. It's even more interesting because I have been to Ontario, and can think back to what changes the city has gone through to get from the small settlement founded by the Chaffeys and developed by Charles Frankish to the modern city we can visit today.