Hi everybody! For those of you who don’t know me (which, I’m sure, is just about everyone), I’m Emma, lover of the past. I graduated from UCSB in 2011 with my BA in History and have found that I truly miss life as a student and hope to go back to school to obtain my Master’s Degree. What I’ll do with an advanced degree in History, only time can tell. In an effort to maintain at least some portion of my sanity as I study for the GRE and research what seems to be an unending list of graduate programs, I began volunteering here at the Presidio Research Center for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. SBTHP has several ongoing projects for its upcoming 50th Anniversary, which it will celebrate in 2013, and I’m fortunate enough to take part in contributing to the celebration of an organization which has played a crucial role in the preservation and restoration of many of Santa Barbara’s cherished historic sites. I hope to stick around for a while and give what time and energy I can to what is, as far as I can tell, a wonderful organization.
One of the first projects I’ve undertaken is uploading content from The Research Center’s oral history collection, in which residents of Santa Barbara, old and new, share memories of their time in our beloved city. It’s my job to create profile pages featuring clips from these interviews on SBTHP’s Collections Online website to help paint a picture of what life as a Santa Barbaran was like throughout the 20th century for these individuals, and to give listeners an idea of how much the city has changed and grown. The first interview I worked on was one between Julia Forbes (a former active member of SBTHP) and her friend Louise Ardohain. The interview was conducted in 1984 and is essentially a lengthy conversation in which the old friends reminisce about growing up in Santa Barbara during the early and mid-20th century. Their stories include tales of surviving the Santa Barbara earthquake in 1925, details of life in Santa Barbara during World War II, the temporary disappearance of the town’s Japanese community during internment, and discussions of the old Chinatown and Japantown, both of which neighborhoods have been a significant cultural component of Santa Barbara and lie near and within the site of the Santa Barbara Presidio.
You can find clips from Julia and Louise’s interview here (please be advised that in order for the interview clips to play properly, you must have Quicktime enabled as the default player for your internet browser). There will be lots more oral histories to come, so keep checking in to learn about the many ways in which Santa Barbara has changed throughout the century and help us celebrate 50 years!
Emma Engstrom is an enthusiastic and welcome new addition to the volunteer crew at the Presidio Research Center.