Results tagged “#CLIRWater”

Merry Chaffey-mas!

This week I started working on metadata for the Chaffey Brothers Letters. It seems like I am the last CLIR CCEPS Fellow to work on the Chaffey Brothers Letters, but I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away from the Chaffey brothers for long. Other fellows have written about the Chaffey Brothers Letters many times before. They have inspired a lot of conversations here at Special Collections, and Alfonso even did his culminating presentation on the letters.

The infamy of the Chaffey Brothers Letters here at the CLIRWater Project is due to two factors. One is simply that there are a lot of letters which gives an enormously well-rounded view of their business operations. We are very lucky that these fragile records have survived almost 150 years and that complete transcripts exist in the case that the wet copy letters are illegible. Complete or near complete records like these can provide huge insights for researchers interested in the Chaffey brothers or the history of land use in Southern California.

This brings us to the second reason that the Chaffey Brother Letters are such a hot topic here at the Claremont Colleges Library's Special Collections: the Chaffey brothers are incredibly important to the history of Southern California and the Inland Empire specifically. They influenced the settlement of the area and effected water and land use in the area to such an extent that their legacy can be seen even today. Since our project centers on water resources and allocation, the Chaffey brothers are big players in the larger narrative that we are uncovering and publishing via the CLIRWater Project.

Now that I am creating metadata for some of the letters, I am beginning to understand why the Chaffey Brothers Letters are so captivating. Although most of the letters are short and center around specific business transactions, when read together a larger image of the Chaffey brother's business comes into focus. I have talked about learning history through osmosis before, and I am experiencing this sensation again while working with these letters.

Anyway, this is my last blog post for 2017. I will be back again working on the CLIRWater Project in 2018. Happy Holidays!

Last Week of the Semester

Hi all,

This week I continued my work on naming files from Chaffey letters book 2. I also got to see some documents being photographed and uploaded, which was cool because it showed me the earlier steps in the process of archiving these files. I'm learning more about the Chaffey brothers' business as I go; for example, I found this week that they were involved in growing raisins through a letter in which they requested someone send them an "A-1 raisin man" immediately!

Happy holidays,

Culminating Presentation

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog post about the CLIR CCEPS culminating presentation that I was getting ready for. Well, last week I gave my presentation along side my fellow CLIR CCEPS student workers. The presentations all went really well and I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with the folks in the audience.

For this blog post I wanted to share briefly what my presentation was about. Given my experience and interest in developing the CLIRWater project's social media presence, my presentation was about social media. More specifically, I talked about how social media might be able to support the mission statements of the stakeholders involved in the project.

First, I talked about the successes and failures we've experienced over the last semester in terms of what works and what doesn't for our followers on different social media platforms. I believe that success and failure are both important to recognize so that we can learn and adapt accordingly. This process is about trying new things without the fear of failure, because failure is just another kind of learning opportunity. Likewise, recognizing success offers important lessons about what we can continue to do well.

I used Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as my case studies. I examined posts across all three social media platforms featuring the images seen in this slide, and noticed what was popular and what was not. From there I established guidelines about how we can proceed in future social media posts based on the lessons I learned from these case studies.

I then looked at the mission statements for the organizations involved in the CLIRWater Project. My goal was to connect the online content we create with the goals and values of the organizations involved. I wanted to make sure that posting online content to social media platforms was a worthwhile aspect of this project outside of the normal activities that this project entails (and that we post about here on the blog).

Finally, I connected some of the key ideas found in the mission statements listed above to the online content we create. I sincerely think that social media is a great resource for sharing archival and special collections material and engaging a larger audience. Hopefully this abridged version of my culminating presentation has convinced you too!

Chaffey Letters Book 2

Hi everyone,

This week I worked on naming files from the second book of Chaffey letters. In a few of the letters from Book 2 that I got to skim, I came across some business issues the Chaffey brothers had to deal with. A common theme was that the person they were writing to wasn't writing back to them in time. The brothers were dealing with pressing issues at times, but the speed of the postal service (and potentially the reluctance of their business partners to answer) meant they didn't always get a response when they needed one. For example, in the file ont00017_0103_0002, George Chaffey wrote about rabbits doing damage to trees on their land, and how the person he was addressing had left his letter unanswered. This made me think of how nowadays we are accustomed to instant responses, and if we don't get them, we can often check whether or not our messages have been received or even opened. People are also expected to be accessible at any time because our cell phones are never too far from us. This has changed business practices and customs so much. It was interesting to read how it used to be in the 1800s, and how all the Chaffey brothers could do to ensure a faster response was to perhaps insert some stern words into their requests.

Speaking of the digital age, I also worked on posting to CLIR and Honnold's social media pages today!


Full Circle

Hello! I have some pretty amazing news! At this point in the semester I have now created metadata for all of the items I scanned this semester. After hours and hours of work I'm done with my first batch of objects! Once they have all been uploaded onto the digital library I will start scanning again.

Things have come full circle, officially, which is such an incredible realization. I actually had trouble thinking of a blog post topic for this week until I realized I've finally seen the process from start to finish. I guess I have to stop feeling like a newbie now.

I'm excited to start scanning again, something you probably didn't expect to read. However, new documents to scan equals new stories to uncover and I can't wait to share what new treasures I discover.

Archiving PDFs

Hi all,

This week I worked on converting PDF scans of the Chaffey Letters Book 1 into archivable PDFs, or PDF/As. I did a little research into why it's necessary for these files to be in the PDF/A format and found that this allows them to be preserved more carefully so that they remain accessible. It's used by governments, newspapers, libraries, and many more institutions as the world's information becomes more and more digitized. So, although the work was tedious, it ensured that the Chaffey letters meet the standards for digital archiving.

Happy December,

Last Day at the Office

Hello everyone,

So today is my last day working as a CLIRWater CCEPS Fellow. For the past two days I have been working on my presentation displaying the work I've done this semester as well as continuing metadata for those Chaffey Letters. It might be a surprise, but my end of the semester presentation is going to be on... drum rolls please..

The Chaffey Letters!!

I've spent so much time with these letters and learning about the Chaffey Brothers, the Inland Empire and Ontario that I'm just waiting to burst with all that information.

Overall, I am thankful for the experience I have had at the library. I have always considered myself a history buff and while working with these documents I have enjoyed learning about the history of Southern California as well as the ability to work with archives. I've learned new skills, technical and job skills.

thanks for reading,



The semester is almost over and there's a lot to do before it ends. As a student I have been busy working on wrapping up coursework and writing final papers. But as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow I have also been working on a culminating project for the semester.

Next Wednesday, December 6, I will be doing a presentation about my experiences along with the rest of the CLIR CCEPS Fellows. Each person will speak on a different topic that interests them and directly relates to their time here at special collections working on the CLIR Water documents. The event will be held at 2pm in the library's Founders Room.

At first I was overwhelmed with the idea of presenting my thoughts on the project to digitize this huge collection of documents relating to water resources in Southern California. Even though I have been here almost an entire semester, at times I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the collection. However, in thinking more about the upcoming presentations I have realized I have a wealth of thoughts and ideas about the project.

I won't tell you what my topic is yet though! No spoilers! But if you want to come you can always check out the Facebook event here:


Since it is Thanksgiving week I thought I would talk about the things I am thankful for as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow.

1. Tanya, the Special Collections CLIR Digital Project Manager: Tanya is the driving force of the CLIR Water Project. She uses her knowledge and expertise to guide the CLIR CCEPS fellows. Without her, the project would not be possible. I am thankful for her because she has taught me an immense amount about archives, libraries, and special collections.


2. The Other CLIR CCEPS Fellows: I could not tackle the task of digitizing and uploading this collection by myself. The other CLIR CCEPS Fellows are similarly dedicated to making this collection of water documents accessible on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. I am thankful for them because of their hard work as we work together to complete this project.


3. The Special Collections and Claremont Colleges Library Staff: The staff here is always friendly and ready to help me with any issue I may have. I am thankful for them because as a student and as a worker they are always able to share knowledge and insight.


4. Podcasts: Whenever I am working on the more monotonous tasks, like scanning a large document, I like to listen to podcasts. They keep my brain busy while I do less exciting tasks so I never get bored at work. I am thankful for podcasts because they keep me entertained.


5. Technology: I've already talked about technology in a previous blog post, but it is so vital to what we do here. I am thankful for technology because it makes my life easier.


6. The People of the Past: Where would we be without the people of the past? We could not do research about water resources in Southern California if the people in this area had not written letters, drawn maps, created documents, completed reports, or recorded any of the material that we now possess. I am thankful for the people of the past for documenting their lives and activities so that we could learn about them today.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Getting started with the CLIR Water Project

Hello, fellow followers of the water history of Southern California!

I'm Aalia, a freshman at Pomona College, and I recently joined the CLIR Water team here at good old Honnold-Mudd library. During my first two weeks, I have been working with Book 1 of the Chaffey letters. I checked the scans of the original letters against their transcripts to make sure the files were paired together correctly, then filled in some of their metadata in the Excel spreadsheet tracker.

As we know, there are hundreds of these letters, so I didn't really get to read each one- if I had, I'd be working on that same task right now, and for the next several days! But I did get to skim a lot of the documents, and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into a different era and its form of communication. My freshman critical inquiry course this semester revolves around letters and the role they play in our lives and societies, so I've been thinking about the purpose, context, and form of various letters for the past couple months. Applying this thought process to the Chaffey brothers' correspondences has made me observant of the particular language they use and how it conveys their meaning, the openings and closings of each letter, and the tone the writers use when dealing with different issues. The opportunity to explore these themes as I compiled rows and rows of metadata definitely spiced up the job.

So far, I've learned how to work on metadata and how to convert PDFs to PDF/As. I've also realized that Excel can be tricky- I accidentally messed up the configuration of a spreadsheet when I was trying to add rows- so I am trying to be even more careful with these little details!

See you after Thanksgiving,

Level three!

I've begun metadata on the Chaffey Letters, Book I! I've never been into video games much but I assume that the feeling of passing a level you tried over and over to pass is the same feeling I've felt these past two days. I suppose I should clarify what level one and two were, as well. 

Level One: Scanning. The Chaffey Letters (Book I and II) took an extremely long time to scan. Each book had such a large number of extremely thin and fragile paper. 

chaffey bhs.jpg

Level Two: Breaking up the letters. Along with the Chaffey Letters, Ontario City Library provided us with transcripts for each letter. The past few weeks I have been breaking apart the letters, from one large pdf with all the letters into individual pdfs for each letter (as well as individual pdfs for each transcript).
Level Three: METADATA! Now that the sources are scanned and separated I have begun metadata so the hundreds of Chaffey Letters we have can go live (that's how you win this video game, in case you were wondering). With the letters we have to attach their transcripts and process them as 'compound objects,' so the letters will be able to be viewed on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library with the transcripts.

Here's to many more hours on metadata!

till next time, 

Learning Through Osmosis

I'm becoming a historian through osmosis. After a couple of weeks of creating metadata, I have an increasing understanding of the documents and the context in which they exist. I already knew some things from scanning documents and looking for interesting tidbits for social media and blog posts.

Now that I'm creating metadata, my understanding of the topics in our collection has increased tenfold. This is the nature of creating metadata, I am trying to synthesize information contained in the document so that when it is uploaded researchers browsing our collection will be able to filter through the material.

It is obviously interesting to learn about major historical events like the construction of the Hoover Dam, but it may be more surprising to hear that my favorite things to learn about are the less significant narratives. This week, for example, I created metadata for a series of letters written between 1935 and 1938 between the City of Ontario and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

During this time the Colorado River was seen as the solution to the water scarcity problem in Southern California. Increasing numbers of people settling in the area meant increasing amounts of water was required for both agricultural and domestic use. Southern Californians looked east to the Colorado River, one of the largest rivers in the United States for assistance.

A dam in the Boulder Canyon was proposed and subsequently an aqueduct leading to Southern California. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was responsible for the building of the Colorado River Aqueduct. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California originally encompassed Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Burbank, Compton, Fullerton, Glendale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Marino, Santa Ana, Santa Monica, and Torrance. Later on it would include dozens of Southern Californian cities including Ontario.

This series of letters, however, gives a smaller, more intimate, and incredibly interesting history of this time. According to letters from the City of Ontario, several city streets had been damaged by the construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct. The letters addressed to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California requested that they cover the cost required to repair the city streets. This correspondence continues with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's denial of responsibility of the damage. Between 1935 and 1938, the City of Ontario and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California send letter after letter until a conclusion is made. According to one of the final letters, an Ontario City Council meeting passed a resolution that freed the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California from liability for the damage done during the construction of the Colorado River Aqueduct.

As I created metadata for these items, I was intrigued by this story. Although it is not a major event in the history of Southern California, it is an interesting narrative that could very easily have been lost to time. Instead I am able to make these letters available to researchers through the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.

Social Media, but like from the past?

Inspired by Kiera's blog about social media, I began to think of the Chaffey brothers and their use of advertisement and marketing in order to attract attention to their "Colony." As we saw in a past blog of mine, the Chaffey brothers had produced pamphlets about their "City that Charms." They truly created a sort of paradise area for people to come, to live and to prosper. "It's like Social Media, but old." *said in a high pitched voice*
They really did have their own forms of social media, their own forms of putting information out there. Nowadays if we have an idea we have an immediate outlet, but it wasn't always that easy.
In the letter below one can see how advertising was very important to the Chaffey brothers.


They had advertisements all around the area, and even in Canada. In another letter you can see the amount of people from Canada interested in the Colony the Chaffey Brothers created.


they really had a vision!

Until next time,

Social Media and Accessibility

One important aspect of archival work is making information from primary sources accessible to people. For the most part this priority manifests through the creation of finding aids, the opening of reading rooms, and the establishment of digital libraries. The Honnold Mudd Library implements all these features in order to invite scholars to use the Special Collections. However, there is another way to make primary sources accessible to potential users: through the use of social media.

Social media makes archival and special collections accessible not only practically but also intellectually. In a practical sense, social media accounts can help promote repositories and encourage use by scholars and other individuals through the more traditional means listed above. However, it also allows social media users to engage with primary sources intellectually. The social media presence of a repository can be a direct way of disseminating easily digestible pieces of information taken from primary sources. By offering this engagement with primary sources, social media makes these sources more accessible to an increasingly wide audience.

Social media is a great way to share fun facts, short stories, images, and developments--this is how many individuals use accounts like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Special collections libraries and archival repositories can use social media in similar ways. In the case of the Honnold Mudd Library and Special Collections we use our social media accounts to share images and videos of the collection, interesting information found in certain documents, and new development for projects like the CLIR Water Project. In this way, social media users engage with the collection much as how they would use a finding aid, visit a reading room, or browse a digital library.

There are two social media projects I have been developing since becoming a CLIR CCEPS fellow: #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday. These hashtags are used by our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts. #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday usually include an image from the collection paired with a little background information. I like to take advantage of the visual elements of the documents I come across in the Caldifornia Water Documents collection when I post to social media so that my posts are eye-catching. If this blog post caught your eye and you would like to follow #TypographyTuesday and #WaterWednesday here are links to our social media accounts.




Preperations for Metadata!

As of late I have been separating the Chaffey Letters Book I as well as the transcript for each of the letters. Chaffey Letters Book I is finished and is ready for metadata. The transcripts have opened my eyes to many insights about the Chaffey brothers. It's very interesting to read what they had to say and understand more and more about them and their dream "colony" from 135 years ago. After I separate Chaffey Letters Book II as well I will be able to, one by one, work on metadata and let them go live on the Claremont Digital Library. We shall see how soon that day comes.

chaff letters-transcript.jpg

till then,


One Word

This week I was asked how I would describe my fellowship in one word. It took me a while to think about just one word that encapsulates my entire experience working on the CLIR Water Project. Each day is a little different, and since I still consider myself new to this position, I am still learning new skills all the time. For example, just this week I have learned how to create metadata in CONTENTdm and how to upload items onto the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. With this in mind, how could I narrow down my experience into one word?

In the end, I came up with "detail-oriented," which is not even technically a single word. However, it seemed to best fit my feelings about everything I do here. Whether it is how you handle fragile documents or how you create comprehensive metadata, it is important to be detail-oriented. At every step of the digitization process, it is of utmost importance to take your time and pay attention. Every detail matters.

Consequently, many of my tasks feel a bit like mental juggling. However, I enjoy this element of multitasking while working as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow. Although it might not look or sound that exciting to digitize documents and create metadata for them, my mind is always whirring with a thousand factors to make sure every detail is perfect.

The Building of an Empire

The Chaffey brothers and their letters are still in my life and I see no separation from them anytime soon. I am still scanning the second Chaffey letters book but, as I have mentioned in a blog before, I also have access to the transcripts of the letters and have been using them to prepare for the Chaffey letters metadata. The transcripts help in understanding the purpose of each letter. If I am able to identify the main subjects of each letter I am able to tag those subjects when the sources go live. Similarly, if I can properly summarize each letter it makes those who may be looking for resources such as the Chaffey letters more easily accessible. Each letter will be separated so it may be quite a while until each of the letters from Book I and II will be in the Claremont Colleges Digital Library but it will happen, I promise you that!

As I read through these transcripts I continue to see the dreams of the Chaffey brothers in purchasing the land that is today known as the Inland Empire. Another CLIR CCEPS fellow had in the past, worked with a brochure style document that was advertising Ontario, CA, "The City That Charms." As I discover more and more about the Chaffey brothers, I realize the almost utopia of an empire they wanted to build, dare I even say a sort of elite (or elitist) community. In modern day, it would most likely resemble a fancy gated community in a suburban neighborhood. In a letter dated February 28th, 1882 George Chaffey writes, "Our intention is to sell to our immediate friends and those recommended by them, hoping by this means to make a first class colony." This one sentence brings up two interesting topics. The first involves the use of the word colony. The Chaffey brothers and most other historical/biographical information about the Chaffey brothers and the Inland Empire continuously use the word 'colony,' and it is interesting to ponder on why they might use the word, but that is for another time. The second is the obvious intent of the Chaffey brothers to build an empire of perfection, a place where "the aged may rest and the young grow strong." That quote is from a page of the Ontario brochure (pictured below). It is incredibly more interesting that the Chaffey brothers found this land, mostly desert and lacking water sources, and saw beyond that. They saw possibility and they banked on that possibility.

Ontario the city that charms.jpg

In that same letter George Chaffey also writes, "There is no better land in the state, it all lies to the sun and the water right is perfect, we have however absolute control of the water. Thus avoiding any chance of dispute," and in another dated September 10th, 1882 writes, "The land is very even of excellent quality. The elevation is above the Frost Belt, the situation commands a view of the valley. The water is pure mountain water which together with the healthy climate must make it all that can be desired for a home." The Chaffey brothers may have found land that seemed by most undesirable but they looked further. They saw the landscape as a view to die for, they saw the mountains of Southern California as a source to build an irrigation haven, and saw the climate ("sunny California" as it is most known today) as more than desirable. Perhaps that is why we call it the Inland Empire.

Technology and Libraries

It's easy to think of libraries simply as repositories full of books, but did you know there is actually a lot of technology that is involved as well? Technology is an important part of every library, and here at special collections we use technology every day. As a CLIR CCEPS fellow I am not just working with books and documents, I have to use a variety of technology. It's easy to imagine the kinds of technology that the CLIR Water Project uses in digitizing documents and publishing them on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. In fact, many of us have written about our experiences using technology to scan documents, create metadata, and upload documents.

Still, I think it is important to recognize the hardware and software that is a vital part of our daily lives here at special collections. Thinking about the technology we use is also a good way of breaking down the entire process we go through to get documents onto the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.

The first step is to find and check out a document we want to digitize. Each document or book in special collections has a call number, and just like in the rest of the library, we use the call number to locate and check out an item. CLIR CCEPS fellows use Aeon just like any special collections user. If you are interested in getting access to an item from special collections you can create an Aeon account here:

Next we have to digitize the document. As we've previously written about, there are three kinds of hardware we use to capture a digital image of the document: the flat scanner, the book scanner, and the camera. However, to digitize the items we also need software. When using the flat scanner or book scanner we use Adobe Acrobat and the scanner's software to create PDFs. When using the camera we have to use a variety of software including Capture One, Adobe Photoshop, and finally Adobe Acrobat to convert the photograph to a PDF. We use Capture One and Adobe Photoshop to adjust white balance and generally ensure that the image properly represents the original physical document.

Then we must create metadata before we upload the item to the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. To do this we use the software CONTENTdm, which I learned how to use this week. So far it is an easy way to track metadata for single documents as well as commonly used terms in particular collections to help guide users. After the metadata for the item is completed it is ready to be uploaded, but don't ask me what technology is required for that step because I haven't learned how to do that yet!

Creating Metadata

Today I spent the day learning how to create metadata for all the documents I've scanned in the past month.  Like the assessment I made last week when I discussed digitizing the Frankish copy book, I'll never look at metadata the same! It's surprisingly difficult to whittle down a pamphlet or document to the right key words and subjects that will lead researches to the materials they seek.  I hope my first attempt at creating metadata (which I probably spent way too much time overthinking it) proves fruitful for future researches hoping to learn more about the Etiwanda Water Company!

minutes books - ps.jpg

In a Relationship with Water Documents?

Hello all,

This week, just like Marissa, I learned about metadata and uploaded my very first item on to the Claremont Colleges Digital Library, California Water Documents. I must admit, for some odd reason, I had not completely thought through the idea that the scanning I do and all the metadata information I find and I identify would be directly placed on the big world-wide net for all to use. As I sat down Thursday afternoon in front of my computer with Tanya by my side looking at my very first uploaded document (titled Preliminary Report upon the American States Water Service Company of California and Bear Valley Utility Company and which you can find here *wink wink*: I could not help but feel slightly nervous and profoundly conscious of my scanned images (were they too uneven? were they all the same size? were they all rotated correctly?) and especially the metadata I had entered (was it all correct? was it all completely certified by the Library of Congress despite having gone through with Tanya to assure that it was? Is there more I should add? More that could be useful to someone looking up information on the business growth and water rates of a water-supply company from the 1800s??). The information must be precise, even the slightest errors such as an unneeded space or whether a letter is capitalized must be found and fixed. Those attention to detail skills are extremely necessary right now.

Simultaneously I felt a sense of accomplishment for having been responsible for providing this sort of information now accessible to so many people. I mentioned in some of my very first blog posts of how important and incredible it was to make these historical documents easily accessible to such a wide audience and this has just reinforced that feeling inside me. I must also admit that doing metadata allows a different yet deeper understanding of the documents I have been working with. Often in scanning so many pages in a day, sometimes up to 60, 80, or 100 pages, I begin to mechanically scan without taking time to read the page I am scanning let alone take the time to admire the page(s). But, five more documents uploaded (here's the link to the Claremont College Digital Library, California Water Documents so you can check them out *wink wink wink*: and I can conclude that metadata is a nice break from scanning as well as an opportunity for my relationship with these documents to deepen. I think I can officially say I have spent more time on this relationship than any other...

until next time!

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