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Guide to the Charles Irby Collection, 1790-1988
CEMA 10  
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The Charles C. Irby Collection was deeded to the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives of the University of California, Santa Barbara, on February 21, 1996 and consists of six series distributed among 44 archival boxes which occupy approximately thirty linear feet. The collection represents Irby's life work as a prominent academician whose research and publications explored various dimensions of African American history, including the socio-cultural history of Black People in the West, the migration of Black People to Canada, access to agribusiness by American Black People and the history of Black People in the cinema. Materials in the collection take many formats, including manuscripts, correspondence files, audio-visual materials, research notes, and drafts of Irby's publications. The materials are housed in the UCSB Davidson Library's Department of Special Collections, as part of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, and are arranged, as far as possible, in the order in which they were received from the donor. This order is not exact, by any means, but consists primarily in a grouping by subject, with materials in each main subject category further grouped according to their specific topic.
Charles C. Irby was a cultural geographer who was a pioneer in the development of ethnic and gender studies in this country. Irby was a founding member of the National Association for Interdisciplinary Ethnic Studies (which later became the National Association for Ethnic Studies) and served as president of the association from 1976 to 1978. A prolific author in the field of ethnic studies, he was also editor of NAES publications. Irby was born on April 4, 1938 in Greenville, South Carolina. He earned his doctorate in Geography (1978) from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. His Master's degree in Geography (1968) is from the University of California, Davis. Irby served in the U.S. Air Force from 1957 until 1960. Over the course of his career Irby taught at various universities, including Simon Fraser, the University of Oregon, and the University of California, Davis. From 1974 until his death in 1987, Irby was a professor of ethnic and women's studies at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where he was the university's chair of the Ethnic and Women's Studies Department from 1974 to 1980. In 1983, Irby wrote the following short autobiography: "My college-level teaching career began during the winter quarter of 1969 at the University of California, Davis, where I developed a course concerned with the "Cultural Geography of Black America." One result of that course was a new-found interest in the cultural history of the many ethnic peoples who came to the Americas to begin life anew (it took me longer to recognize the pressures the various peoples put on the native inhabitants). I am primarily interested in the questions of how and why people "do" where they are and attempt to do likewise after migrating from one place to another. I have followed the paths of migrating Mennonites from Manitoba through Mexico to Belize and migrating blacks from Oklahoma and California to Mexico, New Mexico, British Columbia, and Alberta. I have traveled extensively throughout Belize, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the United States to get peoples' perceptions of their experiences. My academic training as a geographer allows me to remain a generalist in a specialist-oriented world; as a result, I have produced videotapes concerned with ethnic minority women, mental health issues among Amerasians, and a slide production on blacks in film. I have developed and taught twenty-five courses in ethnic and women's studies, and I continue to upgrade my skills in courses such as writing across the disciplines and word processing technology." In a tribute to Charles C. Irby, the National Association for Ethnic Studies called attention to the principles for which he worked: "that ethnic studies serves a necessary purpose in today's society and that only by understanding this country's rich multi-racial and multi-cultural heritage will it be possible to create a more loving and just society."
44 hollinger boxes, approx. 300 audio/video items, 1 portfolio box (maps) which occupy approximately thirty linear feet.
Copyright resides with donor
The collection is open for research.