Primary Sources in the Classroom

The Digital Anaheim Project addresses the need to preserve, selectively digitize and make identified local history materials accessible to the public, while targeting resources that support the city's student population. In 1999/2000 Anaheim History Room staff collaborated with faculty from the Anaheim city School District in a local history curriculum building project which emphasized the use of primary sources. The final selection of nearly 2,000 historic photographs for the Digital Anaheim Project was determined according to the following criteria: the historical significance or intrinsic value of the image; technical feasibility/physical condition; intellectual property rights; and identified subject areas. Emphasis was placed on images documenting Anaheim's founding as the first planned community in Orange County. Subject areas include local geography, Native Americans, explorers, ranchos, missions, Anaheim's immigrant German founders, viticulture, agriculture, industry, transportation, social life and customs, education, local government, ethnic groups, labor relations, local economy, women, World War I and II, natural disasters, Anaheim Resort area and Googie architecture.

During its 100-year history, the Anaheim Public Library has been a repository for significant and locally relevant historical materials. Since 1968 these collections of unique, valuable and frequently 1-of-a-kind Anaheim and Orange County primary and secondary resources have been cataloged and made accessible through the Anaheim Heritage Center, located in the Anaheim Muzeo.

Access to the Heritage Center collection is limited due to its small room, and minimal staffing. The city's geographic configuration, stretching 45 miles from east to west, further complicates the public's ability to access the collection at a single location. This is especially true for students attending local elementary schools, few of which are located within walking distance of downtown Anaheim. The Anaheim city School District includes 23 elementary K-6 schools, which are on a 4-track year-round schedule. The student population of approximately 23,000 students represents a diverse population. Through the creation of a digital collection of selected primary sources, the Library has made relevant materials available through its web site. Students and faculty members are able to access the digital archive through existing computers located in school libraries/media centers and classrooms.

The Anaheim Public Library has utilized emerging technologies to enhance access to the Anaheim Heritage Center collection. The historic photograph collection is one of the most heavily used historic resources, and the digital archive will be utilized by researchers throughout California and the world, as well as local students.

The goal of the Digital Anaheim project is to preserve, selectively digitize and make identified local history materials accessible to the public, while targeting resources that support the city's student population. The Anaheim Public Library will maintain and add to the Digital Anaheim collection in the future with the help of local organizations and additional grants.