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State Land Settlement, Durham, California, 1918-1919
BANC PIC 1966.034--fALB  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Background
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: State Land Settlement, Durham, California,
    Date: 1918-1919
    Collection Number: BANC PIC 1966.034--fALB
    Creator: Mead, Elwood, 1858-1936
    Extent: 4 albums (267 photographic prints) and 6 boxes of glass negatives ; various sizes 267 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Photograph albums are available for use. Glass negatives are unarranged and not available for use.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
    Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item] State Land Settlement, Durham, California, 1918-1919 , BANC PIC 1966.034--fALB, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Digital Representations Available

    Digital representations of selected original pictorial materials are available in the list of materials below. Digital image files were prepared from selected Library originals by the Library Photographic Service. Library originals were copied onto 35mm color transparency film; the film was scanned and transferred to Kodak Photo CD (by Custom Process); and the Photo CD files were color-corrected and saved in JFIF (JPEG) format for use as viewing files.

    Related Collections

    Title: Elwood Mead papers,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 1041
    Title: State Land Settlement, Delhi, California, 1920-1922 / Elwood Mead,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1966.033--fALB

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Durham photographs were transferred from the Elwood Mead papers (BANC MSS C-B 1041).


    The State Land Settlements at Durham and Delhi were begun in 1918 and 1919, respectively. The Durham settlement was located near Chico in Butte County, California. The settlements were based on a 1917 land settlement program initiated by the state of California to encourage and improve land development methods. Durham settlement had about 130 settlers who owned the segment of land on which they worked. Previously, agriculture in California had been in the hands of individuals whose efforts were not always good for the land. The program was a means by which to educate large groups of people on better farming techniques. The settlement, in which settlers shared land, supplies, and workflow, was intended to demonstrate desirable land settlement methods in a communal setting and encourage cooperation and social organization. Settlers were chosen by the California State Land Settlement Board (chaired by Dr. Elwood Mead) based on their capital, experience, and attitude towards cooperative effort. Each prospective settler had to appear before the Board for questioning, and was watched carefully even after being accepted into the program. Two basic aims of the program were to improve the living conditions of the settlers and to increase the number of people on the farms.
    The Durham settlement was divided into land allotments for purchase, most varying in size from 20 to 80 acres. The settlement was furnished with a somewhat complex irrigation system, which was one of the most expensive elements of the program. Initially, the Durham settlement fared quite well, attracting many potential buyers and selling all of its laborers' allotments. The settlement included a community park and meeting place as well as administrative buildings.
    A first, the settlers were enthusiastic about the program. Early attempts at cooperation included group purchasing of dairy cows and a group milk-selling association. However, disputes soon made these ventures unsuccessful, and even community social activities began to disappear. Agriculture was initially fairly successful, the only major production problem being the adobe soil, which was difficult to irrigate. After the first few years, however, satisfactory crops were few and far between. The settlers needed more land than they could afford in order to make a living from the low-income crops they were trying to grow. The Board's need to keep land under contract often harmed the ideals of the settlement, in that settlers who put forth little or no effort into farming were allowed to remain on the land. The Durham settlement was plagued with poor drainage and the loss of profitable alfalfa and prune crops to disease. The need to reinvest initial profits from the first few years of harvests was unattractive to most settlers. In retrospect, the causes of failure of the settlement as a whole were seen to be crop failures, expensive but poor land, higher-than-anticipated expenses in general, and economic conditions at the time which were unfavorable to this type of land development.
    (Source: Smith, Roy James. The California State Land Settlements at Durham and Delhi. Berkeley: University of California, 1943.)

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of three albums and an accopress binder of photographs documenting the development of the State Land Settlement Project at Durham, California, from 1918-1919. Included are views of houses and floor plans, agricultural buildings and machinery, crops, and livestock. The photographer or photographers are unknown. The three albums include captions printed on photographs or typewritten captions pasted below photographs, and the accopress binder has handwritten captions below each photograph - all captions are reprinted in the container listing.
    The collection also contains six boxes of glass negatives which are unarranged and not available for use.