Calisphere: Your Gateway to California’s Remarkable Digital Collections

Screenshot of Calisphere Home Page

By Christine Kim and Adrian TurnerCalisphere is a gateway to California’s remarkable digital collections, with free access to over two million historical images, texts, recordings, and other primary resources. 

Developed and maintained by UC’s California Digital Library, Calisphere gathers resources from over 300 participating cultural heritage institutions throughout the state, including all ten UC campuses, and presents them in an easily searchable (and browsable) site.

What Will You Find in Calisphere? 

Explore early maps of the world; photographs from historical newspapers; paintings reflecting periods of cultural significance; personal journals and diaries charting new frontiers; political posters calling for decades of social and political change; and interviews with and oral histories of the citizens of this state.

Calisphere: University of Californria

Watch a video about Calisphere

Finding these resources previously required searching through hundreds of distinct archives or poring over lists of online search results. Calisphere brings these resources together so they can be easily discoverable through a single interface. 

Learn more about the collections in Calisphere, including how primary source records are described; how shared community values and standards guide access to historical materials; and how we strive to provide responsible access to digital primary sources.

What’s under the Hood?

Calisphere uses many open-source technologies to aggregate and deliver digital collections, and the code is available in GitHub. Calisphere’s aggregation technology is based on a harvesting model—our partner organizations share metadata (descriptions of their primary source materials) and thumbnail images of the digital assets. Our goal is to make it easy for organizations of all sizes and with varying technical infrastructure to contribute to Calisphere. 

The Calisphere team is currently engaged in a significant project to modernize and replace our legacy harvester with a new infrastructure suite called Rikolti (the Esperanto word meaning “to harvest”). This new system is designed to be modular and fast, using current, well-supported systems. Rikolti is in active development through 2022, with progress organized around quarterly milestones. Follow along in our Rikolti GitHub project space!

The Deeper You Look, the More You Discover

Visit Calisphere to access our openly available, statewide aggregation of digitized resources and delve into the stories that have shaped California throughout its history!

Christine Kim

Christine Kim is OAC/Calisphere service & outreach manager, Publishing, Archives, and Digitization Program, California Digital Library, UC Office of the President.

Adrian Turner
Adrian Turner is a senior product manager, Publishing, Archives, and Digitization Program, California Digital Library, UC Office of the President.

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