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Guide to the California Dairy Industry History Collection
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The California Dairy Industry History Collection contains documentary items extracted from a large assemblage of materials collected for use at an anticipated California Dairy Museum. Between 1976 and 1981 California State Parks, in cooperation with the California Dairy Museum and Educational Foundation (CDMEF), participated in a joint venture to create a museum at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz County. The museum was intended to showcase the contributions of the dairy industry to the social and economic development of California. In 1976 the CDMEF donated its collection of dairy machinery, equipment, and archival materials to the California State Parks. The foundation also established an advisory committee to assist California State Parks in managing the collection and in locating and acquiring additional materials for the proposed museum. In 1981 the State Parks Commission voted not to fund the museum, and the collection went into storage—first at Wilder Ranch State Park and then at the State Museum Resources Center in West Sacramento. The archival collection described in this guide covers the period of 1856 to 1986 with the bulk of the material dating from 1930 to 1978..
Cattle first entered California with the Spanish missionaries in the late 1700’s. Milk and cheese were consumed at the Franciscan Missions from San Diego to the northernmost mission at Sonoma. At times milk may even have been an essential element of the missionaries’ diet. Father Junipero Serra wrote in 1772 that milk was their “chief subsistence” at Mission San Carlos in Carmel, and other records show that as early as 1776 women were making cheese and butter at Mission San Gabriel. But the first cattle in California were of Mexican stock, better suited for meat, hide and tallow than for milk. As these herds grew, a lucrative trade in tallow and hides developed. These goods left California by ship, and the Eastern merchants’ desire for these products in the 1830s contributed to the growth of seaport trading communities at San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Monterey. In the first few decades after the arrival of cattle in California, dairying was incidental to the more lucrative tallow and hide trades. But as the herds grew stronger and larger, dairying became more and more popular. The collection contains the papers of Herman Grabow (1898-1993), a cow tester, dairyman, radio personality, journalist and lobbyist for the California Grange. Trained as a cow tester at the University of Minnesota, Grabow came to California in 1923, where he found work as a tester in Ventura County. After losing his dairy in the midst of the Great Depression, Grabow came to San Joaquin County where he acquired a spread that was being sold for back taxes. With financial help from Roosevelt's New Deal, Grabow bought alfalfa seed and twenty cows. By the late 1930s he was well-established and had become Director of the local artificial insemination association. Beginning in the 1940’s, Grabow became a farmer’s advocate, working for forty years to advance the cause of the California dairy industry through legislation and promotion as a lobbyist for the California State Grange and as President of the California Dairymen, Inc. Grabow also published a regular column on dairy-related topics in the California Farmer during the 1960s and hosted a weekly radio program, "A Dairyman's Views on the News" on KTRB in Modesto, California from 1955 to 1960. He will be best remembered (among dairymen in particular) for his contributions to the passage of the California Milk Pooling Act (1969), which gave independent dairymen greater protection from milk price fluctuations.
38.7 cubic feet in 52 boxes and 34.75 cubic feet of bound volumes.
Property rights reside with the California State Parks. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact California State Parks.
The collection is open for research.