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Western Americana History

This guide is designed to help students discover primary resources on the history of the American West in Special Collections at Honnold/Mudd Library and Denison Library.

Digitized Special Collections

CCDL's California

Water Documents  


Water has long played an integral part of California's history and as such a myriad of materials have found their way into the circulating and special collections of the Libraries of The Claremont Colleges. There are pamphlets, maps and blueprints concerning water-rights and water-supply in Southern California in particular the Colorado River Aqueduct.

J.D. Black Papers


Photographs and other materials from the J. D. Black Papers, Loyola Marymount University, recording the American West in the Owens Valley of California from 1875 to 1930. Included in this on-line exhibit are rare photographs of the famous Owens Valley Water Controversy in the 1920s between the valley and Los Angeles over that key resource in the West, water.

Western Waters Digital Library


Western Waters Digital library is a consortium of libraries in the West who has digitized classic water literature, government reports, legal transcripts, water project records, personal papers, photographic collections, and audio/video materials associated with the major river basins of the Western United States.

Other Institutions

Water Resources Center


The Water Resources Center at UC, Berkeley is the largest water resources archives in California.  It holds collections on water-rights and water-supply in California and the American West.

Collections in Special Collections

History of Water Resources in Special Collections


The Water Resources Collection was developed in the 1930s by then Librarian Willis Holmes Kerr, Librarian, and Claremont Colleges Trustee John Treanor. At this time, the water problem interested both men, and they began to collect materials on the subject of water, its distribution, augmentation, and use in Southern California. By traveling to the Hoover Dam, the Imperial Valley, into Arizona, and to the San Joaquin Valley, they assembled literally tons of records: reports of engineers, annual reports and minute books of boards of directors of water companies, documents of federal and state governments, promotional pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and a host of other materials.

Though the main focus of the Water Resources Collection of Southern California covers the early years, from the 1900s to the 1950s, Professor Merrill Goodall of the Claremont Graduate University has given recent publications from California state and local agencies. He was a member of the California Water Commission, 1977–1985, and participated in state, regional, and local water projects. Other donors to the Water Collection include the California Water Resources Center, the Metropolitan Water District, and the Three Valleys Water District, which is the main source of water to Claremont. Such a vast collection has defied complete cataloging, but in spite of this, it has been and continues to be used extensively by scholars.


Finkle Papers

Boulder Dam, Fred C. Finkle Papers, Water Resources Collection, Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont University Consortium.