Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Guide to the California Border Region Digitization Project
Consult repository  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (69.15 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: California Border Region digitization project,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1850-1940
    Date (bulk): 1870-1939
    Collection number: Consult repository
    Creator: San Diego Historical Society
    Extent: 3,500 items (film negatives): b&w; 4 x 5 in. 3,498 online items
    Repository: San Diego Historical Society
    San Diego, California 92138
    Abstract: Black and white photographic images drawn from a variety of collections document the daily life, work, and activities of the residents of the California border region with an emphasis on San Diego County and Baja California, Mexico between 1850 and 1940. Images show the development of aviation, business, neighborhoods, beaches and harbors, water and transportation and include visiting dignitaries, political subjects and locally based events including the Panama-California Exposition and California Pacific International Exposition. Representing the diverse residents of the region are images of Native Americans, African Americans and American immigrants including Chinese, Italians, Japanese, Mexicans, and Portuguese. Photographs also illustrate the wide-ranging role of the United States military in San Diego.
    Physical location: San Diego Historical Society Research Library, Booth Historical Photograph Archives, 1649 El Prado, Casa de Balboa Building, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research. Access to fragile items restricted, except by permission of the Photograph Archivist.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for publication of images in this collection must be submitted in writing to the San Diego Historical Society. Permission for use is not granted until all fees are paid.

    Preferred Citation

    California Border Region digitization project, Consult repository, San Diego Historical Society

    Acquisition Information

    The California Border Region Collection was compiled by San Diego Historical Society staff in 2003-2004 from collections held by the Booth Historical Photograph Archives of the San Diego Historical Society, including:
    • Andreas Brown Postcard Collection (C020)
    • Edward H. Davis Collection (C036)
    • Elaine Sweet Family Collection, 1870-1970 (C119)
    • F.E. Patterson Collection (C089)
    • Fletcher Family Collection (C052)
    • Guy Sensor Collection (C110)
    • Harry A. (Jimmy) Erickson Collection (C046)
    • Joseph M.F. Haase Collection (C058)
    • Louis & Dolores Strahlmann Collection (C121)
    • Pliny Castanian Collection (C027)
    • Ralph P. Stineman Collection (C117)
    • San Diego Historical Society Negative Collection (C004)
    • San Diego Public Library Collection (102)
    • San Diego Union-Tribune Collection (C002)
    • Schneider-Kemmler Collection (C106)
    • Title Insurance Collection (C003)
    • Vernon Heger Collection (C060)

    Biography / Administrative History

    In the course of the California Border Region Digitization Project, Historical Society staff selected, described, and digitized 3,500 photographs from more than fifteen collections. Scanning services were provided by Luna Imaging, Inc. Funding for the project was provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The duration of the project was September 2003 through August 2004.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The California Border Region Digitization Project is a virtual collection of digital images made from black and white negatives of photographic prints, postcards, and stereographs documenting the daily life, work, and activities of the residents of the California border region with an emphasis on San Diego County and Baja California, Mexico. The work of a variety of professional photographers, including Walter E. Averrett, Harry T. Bishop, Ralph P. Stineman, Edward H. Davis, Francis Elliotte Patterson and others, is included.
    Though not all resident populations are represented by this collection, the collection seeks to highlight the diversity of the California border region through images of such ethnic and indigenous residents as African Americans, American Indians, Chinese, Italians, Japanese, Mexicans, and Portuguese. Other images of people and events characteristic of the region's history are represented, including the 1911 Tijuana insurrection, 1912 I.W.W. riot, and 1916 flood, Panama-California Exposition and California Pacific International Exposition, and the dedication of Presidio Park and the Serra Museum. Prominent individuals such as United States presidents, governors and mayors, visiting dignitaries and celebrities are portrayed, as are children engaged in a variety of activities.
    Aspects of the history of California's relationship with Mexico are shown through images of tourists, custom inspectors, police, border patrol, street scenes, businesses, and other activities. Representing the region's commercial development are images of office buildings, theaters, groceries, markets, warehouses, factories, and mills. Images of farms, farm produce, dairies, dairy products industries, ranches, meat production, and agricultural workers illustrate the region's agricultural development. Representing the growth of San Diego's aviation industry are images of aviation pioneers and their aircraft including Charles Lindbergh. Glenn Curtiss, and others.
    Well documented are the role and activities of the United States military in San Diego including the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The many Navy warships stationed in or visiting San Diego are shown through photographs of ships and crews. Military life in San Diego includes images of bases such as the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Naval Training Center, Naval Air Station-North Island, Rockwell Field, Fort Rosecrans, and the 32nd Street Naval Station.


    The collection is organized into eleven broad subject categories that include: Agriculture, Aviation, Balboa Park, Buildings, Government, Industry, Military, People, Places/Locations, Transportation, and Water. Each category has several sub-categories. Many images have been assigned to multiple categories. Images have been described using the Library of Congress' Thesaurus of Graphic Materials I. Where applicable, personal and corporate names have been selected from the Library of Congress' Name Authority File and/or names established by University of California's catalogers and recorded in MELVYL.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    San Diego County (Calif.)
    Mexican-American Border Region.
    Balboa Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    Armed Forces.
    Associations, institutions, etc.
    Business enterprises.

    Genres and Forms of Material