MCF gifts $32 million collection of photographs to UC Santa Cruz

Oct 5, 2016

The University of California, Santa Cruz has announced that it has received a collection of photographs valued at $32 million from the Marin Community Foundation.

The largest gift in UC Santa Cruz history, the Pirkle Jones and Ruth-Marion Baruch Collection comprises an archive of photographs documenting the people, landscape, and politics of California in the mid-twentieth century, along with the transfer to the university of all intellectual rights to the couple's work. The collection includes twelve thousand prints, twenty-five thousand negatives, and thousands of transparencies created by Jones, prints and negatives created by Baruch, and a selection of prints by Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Minor White.

The collection will be housed in the university's McHenry Library's Special Collections, where it will complement a smaller Jones/Baruch archive donated to the university in 2003. Jones became acquainted with UC Santa Cruz in 1969 when he helped teach a workshop there led by Adams.

Some of Jones and Baruch's best known photographic series include Berryessa Valley (1956),Haight Ashbury (taken during the Summer of Love in 1967), Gate Five in Sausalito (1969-765), and Black Panthers (1968) — for which the photographers were given unprecedented access to the Panthers organization and some of whose images were featured in the Panthers' newspaper. An exhibition of photographs from the series at San Francisco's de Young Museum in 1968 drew more than a hundred thousand people despite nearly being canceled after it received unfavorable coverage in the local press. 

"The stories Pirkle and Ruth-Marion captured from the 1940s through the 1970s are just as relevant today as when they were created," said Elisabeth Remak-Honnef, head of Special Collections and Archives at the university. "We are grappling with the same issues of social, political, and environmental justice. People are eager to engage with these issues, and appreciation for such beautiful photographs is timeless."

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