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Environmental Collections at The Bancroft Library

Classes at The Bancroft Library

The Bancroft Library supports the teaching and research missions of the University of California, Berkeley, and welcomes class visits that incorporate and explore its collections. Every semester, Bancroft hosts a diverse array of classes in which instructors and students use archival documents, manuscripts, rare books, pictorial materials, and more.

In particular, multiple classes from the Departments of American Studies, History, History of Art, Rhetoric, and Architecture, along with the College Writing and Berkeley Connect programs, have benefited from Bancroft's environmental collections. A sampling of course titles include:

  • Sacred Places and the American Western
  • Fundamentals of Landscape Design: Strawberry Creek
  • Researching Water in the West: Its Presence, Its Absence, and Its Consequences for the Peoples of California
  • Water = Life, Silence = Death: Rhetoric in Social Movements
  • Reading Photographs of the American West, 1850-1920
  • US, Borderlands, and Environmental History
  • Communities, Environments, & Spatial Dynamics in Social History

Theresa Salazar with students from Researching Water in the West, 2014

Theresa Salazar with students from Researching Water in the West, 2014
Photo courtesy of Diana Vergil


The Bancroft Library frequently features environmental collections in our exhibit spaces. Recent exhibitions include:

Michael Maurice O'Shaughnessy (1864-1934): Engineering the Promised Land
March - July 2019

Sustaining Grandeur: The First 100 Years of Save the Redwoods League
April - September 2018

Protecting the New Wonderland: The Origins of the National Park Service
February - December 2016

Water and Culture: Recovering Owens Valley Paiute History
November 2013 - April 2014

David Ross Brower: A Force for Nature
September 2012 - March 2013

Please check our Exhibitions page for Bancroft's current offerings.

Sustaining Grandeur Exhibition Poster, 2018


Outside the classroom, The Bancroft Library supports the research of students, scholars, and the general public alike. Its collections have been used extensively in dissertations, theses, publications, exhibitions, films, and much more.

An example of Bancroft's contribution is visible in the work of the San Francisco Estuary Institute, which leverages historical ecology studies throughout the Bay Area to support the development of restoration strategies and management decisions for natural hydrology and habitats. Its researchers have been frequented The Bancroft Library through the years, utilizing early explorer accounts and travelogues, Mexican land grant case court testimonies, landscape and aerial photographs, and maps from land cases and the U.S. Geological Survey. A recent study, Historical ecology and landscape change in the central Laguna de Santa Rosa, is available online and at The Bancroft Library.

A sampling of recent publications utilizing Bancroft collections are included below.