Photograph: Young Oroville Chinaman

The website for the Chinese Temple of Oroville, California, now part of the Online Archive of California, was made possible through the foresight of Gloria Gee, and the generosity of the Estate of Mabel L. Gee.

In 1999, Ms. Gee learned of the Library of Congress Ameritech Grant to the California Historical Society and The Bancroft Library to digitize images and texts in their collections related to the Chinese in California. Ms. Gee asked if Bancroft would be willing to accept the support from the Estate of her mother, Mabel L. Gee, to create a comparable Web site for the Chinese Temple. Ms Gee thought it would be double tribute to the memory of her parents Edward Wah and Mabel Lee Gee, because Oroville was the birthplace of Edward, and furthering the understanding of one's cultural heritage was an important Gee Family value.

Bancroft had never before been approached directly by a private party to undertake such a project. The idea was extremely appealing, for it would open a new facet in the cultural history of California.

The City of Oroville had already mounted information about the Chinese Temple on its own web site when Bancroft approached them about the proposed project. They reviewed the proposal carefully and committed their own staff and resources to provide the museum inventory crucial to creating a full-fledged digital site.

In addition, they welcomed the Bancroft and Berkeley specialists and photographers, facilitating their full access to every feature of the Chinese Temple collections, and providing insight and knowledge about the individual items that were captured digitally.

Drawing on this innovative/novel request of Gloria Gee, while serving as Executor of her mother's Estate (which provided initial funding for this project), Bancroft staff photographed the collections of the Temple, matched the images to the Temple's inventory, and created the website. With additional support from the Library of Congress Ameritech Grant, the Online Archive of California now provides worldwide access to the Chinese Temple of Oroville. We anticipate that the website will help guide increasing numbers of visitors to see the incomparable originals that they have learned about on the World Wide Web.

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