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About

About the Project

Early in 2003, Los Gatos Public Library began a local history project in response to a community that loves its cultural heritage. Staff set about organizing and cataloging existing library materials of an historic nature, some dating to the 19th century. Many of the items are fragile and needed to be stored in appropriate acid-free containers. A small Local History Room was established at the library in order to provide work space for staff and volunteers and to increase security for the many valuable and irreplaceable materials in our archives.

The library was soon joined in its preservation efforts by the Museums of Los Gatos. Both the public library and the history museum wish to preserve and make accessible those materials which can help residents know and better understand the community's heritage. Both organizations have limited staff and funding, but both also have valuable, important, and often complementary collections relating to our history. The idea of a partnership, formed especially in an effort to digitize our historic images, seemed like a natural thing to do. The two institutions had existed “side-by-side” for many years, and in fact are located across-the-street from each other, but had not worked together in a significant way in the past. Collaboration between Peggy Conaway, Los Gatos Public Library Director, and Laura Bajuk, Executive Director of the Museums of Los Gatos, resulted in the 2004 creation of Hooked on Los Gatos - the Library and Museum History Project.

In order to obtain funding for the digitization project, the library and museum applied for grants as partners. Those efforts met with success as grant money was awarded and gifts were received from the community and beyond. Funding was adequate to support a part-time librarian for oversight and management of the project, and to purchase a server and software to host the digitized images. This beginning soon evolved into plans for a large shared database of historic images available over the Web. The database, accessible at historylosgatos.org, came to full fruition in July, 2009, when our digital library of nearly 6,000 photographs and other historic images was completed after five years of effort by staff and a core of dedicated volunteers. With this solid foundation in place, the database will continue to grow in future years as more images are discovered and donated for digititation.

Outcomes of the History Project, in addition to the comprehensive database, include four local history books and a full-length documentary film. The books, all from Arcadia Publishing, include: Images of America: Los Gatos, 2004, by Peggy Conaway; Images of Rail: Railroads of Los Gatos, 2006, by Edward Kelley with Peggy Conaway; Images of America: Los Gatos Generations, 2007, by Peggy Conaway; and Postcard History Series: Los Gatos, 2009, by Stephanie Ross Mathews and the Los Gatos Library and Museum History Project. In 2005, the History Project provided many of the images and much of the research for a state-of-the-art documentary film titled Los Gatos: Then and Now, written and produced by local filmmakers Valerie Archer and John Wainwright of Lyric Media, Los Gatos. The documentary film represents a unique partnership among a public agency (the library), a non-profit agency (the museum), and private enterprise.

Well over 100 individuals and 30 companies, organizations, clubs and associations have contributed funding, equipment, time and historic images to Hooked on Los Gatos, the Library and Museum History Project. About 30 family collections are represented in our cooperative database. To date, our digital library includes photographs, maps, death records, letters, meeting minutes, programs, and some newspaper articles and other printed materials. The Los Gatos Weekly Times has generously allowed scanning of their photo archives. Students, researchers, genealogists and people who just love history will appreciate the wealth and depth of information now available on the history of Los Gatos.

Research is often necessary to date and identify historic images. If you have information to contribute or wish to suggest corrections, please e-mail the project at history@losgatosca.gov.) If you are interested in serving as a volunteer researcher or docent in the Library's History Room, please contact Monica Renn, the Town's volunteer coordinator, at (408) 354-6820. Donations of photographs or other historic printed materials are accepted as they are appropriate to the collection. Or, if you would just like to have your significant pre-1975 photographs or other materials considered for scanning and addition to the history database, please contact Henry Bankhead, Library Manager for Adult Services, at (408) 354-6800 to set up an appointment to discuss your collection. (Materials do not have to be permanently donated to the project in order to appear in the database.)

 

About the Collection

The development of Hooked on Los Gatos - the Library and Museum History Project digitized database is a collaborative effort between Los Gatos Public Library and The Museums of Los Gatos, with collections of the two institutions forming the core of the project. Additionally, many individuals, families, and organizations have generously shared their photo archives in order to preserve and make accessible the cultural memory of the town. Collections are primarily composed of photographs, but also include maps, letters, postcards, scrapbooks, programs from events, and other materials of historic interest. In using these images and for reprints, please refer to the Reproduction and Use Policies. In all cases, please give credit to Hooked on Los Gatos - the Library and Museum History Project and to any additional credits that may be indicated in the information included with the photograph or image.

John Baggerly Collection

John Baggerly was a beloved local newsman who wrote local history articles for the Los Gatos Weekly Times for many years. His "Pictures From the Past" pieces were a Town favorite.

Education

Hundreds of class photographs from 1936 through 1957 are available for viewing under this subject heading. If you attended school in the Los Gatos Union School District during those years, enter your name to see your class photo.

Hamsher Collection

The Hamsher Collection consists of approximately 100 historic photographs, many currently hanging on the walls of Los Gatos Library, in the lower level. Most were copied from original images taken between the late 1860s and 1920. Clarence Hamsher was a banker who was elected President of the First National Bank of Los Gatos in 1927. He was also an avid local historian with an intense interest in preserving the past. Mr. Hamsher collected these photographs in the 1920s, had them framed, and hung them on the walls of the bank building. When the bank was purchased by the American Trust Company in 1955, the photographs were presented to the library as a gift.

Los Gatos Death Records

Local Certificates of Death issued by the California State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1905 - 1933. A few of the deaths recorded here occurred as early as 1875, with this paperwork prepared at the time of removal from the Old Los Gatos Cemetery on Cemetery Lane to the New Los Gatos Cemetery on Los Gatos-Almaden Road in the early years of the 20th century.

Local History Mysteries

Of the thousands of historic Los Gatos photographs scanned, only a fraction were originally identified and dated. Research is ongoing at the library to create accurate metadata to accompany each image as it is added to the database. Can you help identify or date any of these mystery photographs? Please send an email to history@losgatosca.gov with your facts or suggestions.

Los Gatos Pageants

The Los Gatos Pageants ran most years from 1919 - 1947. These large outdoor plays were staged on the Pageant Grounds behind the current Civic Center buildings. This collection contains programs from most of the productions, and rare photographs of the actors and elaborate sets.

Residences and Historic Homes Map

Historic Los Gatos homes are featured in this collection. An accompanying map, developed by Library Manager Henry Bankhead, allows you to quickly locate homes on a Google map of Los Gatos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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