Bancroft teams up with Wells Fargo Bank to distribute California history tapes throughout the state

By Kathleen Maclay, Public Affairs

06 December 00 | Californians soon will have easy access to expertise about Hispanic California and its missions, the Gold Rush era and Mark Twain in the West, thanks to a project by the Wells Fargo Foundation and The Bancroft Library.

Through a $100,000 project underwritten by Wells Fargo, audiocassette tapes about these topics will be distributed free or at low cost to California's nearly 1,100 public libraries, to state officials and to every county supervisor in the state. Wells Fargo is working on translating the tape on California's missions into Spanish and providing it along with a lesson plan to fourth grade classes in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where Latino students comprise 60 percent of the classroom population.

"If people are interested in California or Western history, then Bancroft is the place they have to come to," said Charles Faulhaber, director of The Bancroft Library. "We realize there's a lot of public interest in what we do, and this gives the public access even if they can't come to the campus."

Berkeley purchased the book and manuscript collections of historian Hubert Howe Bancroft in 1905, and his collections form the core of The Bancroft Library. Today, the institution concentrates its holdings on California and the West, Mexico and Central America, the history of the University of California, science and technology history, oral histories and the Mark Twain Papers.

"Wells (Fargo) is an institution that has a strong and long history in California, like Bancroft," said Bob Chlebowski, executive vice president at Wells Fargo and a member of Bancroft's Council of Friends. The tapes will promote understanding of California history and the library's rich collection, he said.

The project has produced two 45-minute tapes on each of the three topics designated so far, with the library helping to select experts and arrange recordings.

"These are the sorts of tapes that one would listen to while commuting," Faulhaber said. "They're not dry, scholarly lectures."

Sharing expertise on the tapes are:

• James J. Rawls, an authority on California history, a professor and author.

• J.S. Holliday, former assistant director of the Bancroft Library, director emeritus of the California Historical Society and award-winning author of "Rush for Riches: Gold Fever and the Making of California" (University of California Press, 1999).

• Robert Hirst, principal editor of the Mark Twain Project at The Bancroft Library.

Each choice was easy, Faulhaber said. "Rawls is wonderful at presenting California Western history for the general public," he said. Hirst is well known for his work with the Mark Twain Project, said Faulhaber, " and Holliday is the author of two classic books on the Gold Rush and is a wonderful speaker."

Such tapes on California's early history also are rare, but Faulhaber said he hopes funding can be found to continue the series with other topics on the history of California or the West.

Hearing the tapes
The three tapes will be available from California public libraries after the holidays. To purchase a set, contact Audiotapes, the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000. Sample selections from the tapes may be heard by downloading audio files from the Berkeley news Web site at






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