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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Yolo County Archives receives “People’s History” donation

The Yolo County Archives is aiming to preserve the unique history of Yolo County by pushing to make the archives more digitally accessible and relevant to the community. The Restore/Restory Project that was donated to the archives has put them a step closer to that goal.

“Yolo County Archives is an amazing resource for all things Yolo and we encourage the public to come in and explore,” said Patty Wong, Yolo County librarian and chief archivist, in a statement.

“Restore/Restory: A People’s History of the Cache Creek Nature Preserve” provides a collection of perspectives on the history of Yolo County. Jesikah Maria Ross, the director of the Art of Regional Change program at UC Davis, collected the material with the help of students, scholars and residents from Yolo County. It was a collaborative effort involving over 200 people over the course of two years.

“I think it’s important to preserve and share local history generated by those who lived it for posterity,” Ross said in an email. “The county archives belongs to us, the people of Yolo County. It is our cultural and historical commons. I tapped into that commons to create Restore/Restory and always planned to give back and add to it. That’s how a commons grows and develops.”

Ross started her research by talking to local historians Joann Larkey and Shipley Walter from the Yolo County Archives. She then worked with others to collect audio clips, photographs and documents.

A variety of people were interviewed to get many different perspectives on the Cache Creek area. Among those interviewed were members of the Cache Creek Conservancy, Yoche Dehe Wintun Nation, UC Davis Humanities Institute, UC Davis Center for Regional Change, Yolo County Historical Society, Capay Valley Vision, Tuleyome and Putah Creek Council.

The records Ross collected were used to create many innovative art media pieces, including a story map of community memories, an audio tour presenting multiple perspectives on local history, digital murals combining archival and contemporary images and an illustrated historical timeline of the preserve.

“I hope that the work I gathered and donated will help future artists, scholars, teachers and cultural workers who are doing community history and memory projects,” Ross said. “I hope it’s a useful resource for anyone who wants to know more about the history of our county from a people’s perspective.”

According to Don Saylor, Yolo County supervisor for District 2, one of the exciting aspects of the Restore/Restory Project is that it provides a complete collection of materials in digital form so the records are more easily preserved.

“It’s an ongoing collection of material and artifacts that define the unique history of Yolo County,” Saylor said. “The mission of the archives will be to preserve those materials for future generations and to assist the interpretations of the materials.”

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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