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July 17, 2017
Sam Mahood or Jesse Melgar 
(916) 653-6575

State Archives Launches ‘California Memoirs’ Exhibit with Rare Photos of Early 20th Century Life and Landmarks


SACRAMENTO – The California State Archives is launching “California Memoirs,” its latest online exhibit. This exhibit was created from photos taken by Native Californians William and Grace McCarthy during their extensive automobile travels throughout California during the early 20th Century. 

Click here to view “California Memoirs: The William M. McCarthy Photo Collection” 

“The ‘California Memoirs’ exhibit allows anyone to travel back-in-time and see what makes California truly the Golden State—from historic landmarks to scenic vistas,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “While most of us don’t leave the house without a camera on our smartphone now, William and Grace documented California during a much different time. As early adopters of automobile travel and personal photography, the McCarthy’s embodied California’s pioneering spirit. We are fortunate to share these rare photos with the world. The clear, high-quality photos of early 20th Century California in this exhibit are some of the true gems of the State Archives,” Padilla said. 

Always ready with his camera, William McCarthy captured stunning images of California landmarks and significant events, including:

  • Shots of San Francisco, including before and after the 1906 earthquake, and the fire that destroyed the famous Cliff House in 1907.
  • Los Angeles’ iconic City Hall and the Hollywood Hills.
  • California’s stunning natural beauty—including Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the central coast, and the Mojave Desert.
  • San Diego’s Balboa Park and Mission San Diego. 

The McCarthy photo collection is one of the few private collections preserved by the State Archives. The full photo collection, comprised of almost 3,000 photographs, will be digitized and posted online by the end of the year. 

William M. McCarthy (1876 – 1956) and Grace C. Kane (1878 – 1957) wed in the early 1900s and were married for over fifty years. They lived in San Francisco for most of their lives where William was stationed as an armament expert for the U.S. War Department. 

This is the State Archives’ tenth online exhibit to be hosted by Google Arts & Culture.  Secretary Padilla has made digitizing the treasurers of the State Archives a priority. 

About Google Arts & Culture

Google Arts & Culture is a new, immersive way to experience art, history, culture and world wonders from over a thousand organizations worldwide. Google Arts & Culture has been created by the Google Cultural Institute and it is available for free for everyone on the web, on iOS and Android. Read more here


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