State archives accessible online with new Google partnership

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The Google logo printed on a carpet during the inauguration of the new Google cultural institute in Paris, France.

The Google logo printed on a carpet during the inauguration of the new Google cultural institute in Paris, France. (Photo: Jacques Brinon)

The California State Archives is teaming up with the Google Cultural Institute to make its exhibits available worldwide and online.

The project, announced Tuesday, means audiences can experience state artifacts and records in a digital format. Three collections are now available online, and the office plans to expand the offerings in the future.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla, whose office oversees the State Archives, said he was eager to use the technology to bring California's stories and history to a large audience's fingertips.

The current collections allow users to dive into the history of the state park system, the secretary of state's office and an influential political campaign company, Campaigns Inc. An estimated several hundred images have already been digitized.

California's first Legislature charged the Secretary of State with keeping and preserving the records of the state government, state archivist Nancy Lenoil said. This partnership is another step in making these historical records available to the public, she said.

"Until today, seeing these exhibits would require a trip to Sacramento. Now, Californians and people throughout the world will be able to enjoy and learn through these exhibits," Lenoil said.

Not every record collected by the State Archives can or will be digitized, she said, but the process opens the door to making records available to the public.

Google provided the service for free, said Sam Mahood, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office.

The Google Cultural Institute makes historical artifacts, artworks and other documents available online through partnerships with more than 1,000 institutions worldwide — part of its company commitment to making the world's information organized, accessible and useful.

Its partnership with the State Archives is a chance to "compile and preserve the treasures of California's history," said Mufaddal Ezzy, Google's California state manager for governmental relations.

Ezzy praised the digitized resources, which he said "speak to so many interesting threads in California's legacy and why so many things from California are not just relevant across the country, but across the globe."

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