About the Project
Photograph: Chinese Mother and Sons

In 1999, Gloria Gee approached The Bancroft Library with a novel proposal. She had learned that Bancroft in conjunction with the California Historical Society, and supported by a grant from the Library of Congress's Ameritech Project, was creating a digital archive of approximately 12,500 images documenting Chinese immigration to California and the American West (1850-1920). She wondered if Bancroft might be willing to provide a comparable digital archive documenting the rich collections of the Oroville Chinese Temple, which had been central in her own family's history.

The Bancroft Library was willing to develop such a project if the City of Oroville would agree. After several meetings, it was clear to the City of Oroville and to Bancroft that this innovative proposal would provide a major cultural benefit within California and beyond, providing through the World Wide Web access to the three buildings at the Oroville Chinese Temple, and the collections of Chinese cultural artifacts that are preserved there.

With agreement in place, Gloria Gee, who is a second generation Cal alumna, and as Executor of her mother's estate, directed Mabel L. Gee's gift to support the digital archive project in memory of her parents Edward W. Gee and Mabel L. Gee. This was the first time a member of the California community had approached The Bancroft Library about supporting such a project, but the results are outstanding and may serve as a model for future collaboration between The Bancroft Library and the California community.

Funding from the Estate of Mabel L. Gee was complemented by funds from the Library of Congress Ameritech Project and the images of Oroville Chinese Temple treasures have been fully integrated into the Online Archive of California and are now accessible throughout the world. We anticipate that the strengths of the Oroville collections will attract a growing number of visitors to the Chinese Temple to examine and study this major part of California Cultural History.

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