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Digital Commons expands access to El Rodeo legacy

El Rodeo 1March 8, 2012 — DigitalCommons@CalPoly, the campus’ digital archive hosted by Kennedy Library, announced that it has digitized the Cal Poly yearbook, El Rodeo, for the four Cal Poly classes celebrating their reunion in 2012 (1932–1962). El Rodeo years 1927–1930 have also been digitized.

Glimpse back in time

El Rodeo, published annually until 1990, tells the story of Cal Poly’s history from a student perspective. Some volumes feature a whimsical theme (circus life, 1952) and wacky jokes; others include extensive photos of club happenings (Boots and Spurs, 1942) and the changing campus (including a rare snowfall, 1962).

“The college yearbook is a significant and important publication for all of us at Cal Poly… it combines the old with the new, the historical with the present, our heritage with a glimpse of the future.” Julian A. McPhee, President Emeritus, in El Rodeo, 1962

Community history

El Rodeo 2The El Rodeo digitization project prioritized 2012 reunion years as a way to give back to alumni who may be reflecting on their time at Cal Poly this year or returning to campus for Open House. The yearbooks are searchable and downloadable so memories are more accessible and shareable with family and friends who may not be able to view the bound copies in University Archives.

“We are here to collect, preserve and provide access to the intellectual life at Cal Poly,” said Digital Repository Librarian, Marisa Ramirez. “Digitizing the yearbooks is another way to share the history and growth of Cal Poly with all of those who care about the campus.”

Collaboration with University Archives

El Rodeo 3DigitalCommons@CalPoly staff and student employees, in collaboration with University Archives, are digitizing the complete physical collection of El Rodeo volumes from 1927 to 1980. El Rodeo publication was suspended between 1943-1945 (during World War II) and between 1972-1976, with the final yearbook published in 1990.

Sharing the Cal Poly story

One yearbook takes approximately eight hours to digitize by hand using an overhead color scanner. Digital Repository Assistant Michele Wyngard and current student Ben Canfield-Hershkowitz (Mechanical Engineering) are processing and uploading the volumes.

El Rodeo 4“The partnership between Digital Commons and University Archives to digitize part of the Cal Poly historical record is a strategic and scalable effort, given limited resources, to provide wider access to our unique collections,” said the Director of Information Resources and Archives, Tim Strawn.

DigitalCommons@CalPoly plans to continue the digitization of El Rodeo chronologically from the oldest volume, targeting a fall 2012 completion date.

Go to DigitalCommons@CalPoly to view El Rodeo.

Visit Kennedy Library’s giving page to contribute to the El Rodeo digitization project by specifying “Digital Commons” in your donation notes.

Image Captions

  1. Cal Poly’s Vice President Margaret Chase at her desk, El Rodeo, 1932
  2. Members of Cal Poly Collegiate Quartet, El Rodeo, 1952
  3. Handlebars and Harmony putting their best ‘stache and song forward, El Rodeo, 1952
  4. The 20th Poly Royal Queen, Geraldine Cox, El Rodeo, 1952