Have you ever heard the phrase “an orange a day keeps the doctor away”? The health benefits commonly associated with oranges today became widely known as a direct result of the booming citrus industries in California. Before then, oranges were considered a luxury item only available to the wealthy. The unlikely story behind the orange’s transformation from exotic rarity to iconic California symbol is captured by the unique souvenirs, citriculture, and industry marketing materials recently acquired by the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives.
A selection of materials from this acquisition are currently on view in the Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives: Orange Dream: California’s Citriculture Through Advertising. Exhibit Dates: August 16 – December 14, 2018.
Unlike its better known namesake, the citrus gold rush in California lasted well over a century and continually generated a substantial profit (up until the late 1930s, the California citrus industry was second only to the oil industry). Often considered the crop that “made” California, citrus has had a long-lasting impact on California history, culture, and industry.
The first Californian orange groves were made possible by the Franciscan padres that brought citrus seeds with them to the missions. In the 19th century, these small farms were catapulted into prosperous industries with the entrepreneurial leadership of wealthy landowner William Wolkskill and his son. This early triumph was compounded by the development of new varietals such as the “California navel,” which blossomed in California’s ideal climate. By the end of the 20th century, fruit grower exchanges, including Sunkist, backed cooperative marketing efforts. The success of these new marketing campaigns firmly established the multi-functional role of citrus in Californians’ daily lives.
The California Orange Dream Collection is mostly comprised of the brochures and souvenirs that these fruit grower exchanges used to publicize their oranges’ sweet taste and vitamin-rich nutrition. A visitor’s trip to California wasn’t complete without some variety of orange souvenir, ranging from orange salt and pepper shakers to orange scented perfumes.
This collection also includes a Citrus Manual for Car-Lot Dealers (published by H.K. Pratt & Sons of Redlands in 1905) intended to provide practical information about grade definitions and other statistics to anyone procuring a railroad car lot for shipping citrus, die-cut cards used to promote Citrus Fairs, unused wrapping papers for California oranges including Red Ball and Sunkist, and over 200 orange crate labels used to identify growing and packing locations. A rare addition to the California Orange Dream Collection is a long run of the California Citrograph magazine from the 1920s to the 1990s. The magazine (which is still produced by the Citrus Research Board), was first printing in Fall 1915 as a practical guide for citrus growers that listed the benefits of new varieties. The issues included in this collection document landmark events such as the founding of the Sunkist Fruit Grower Exchange in 1936 and the Cross War Emergency Campaign during World War II.
Orange Dream: California’s Citriculture Through Advertising
Exhibit Dates: August 16 – December 14, 2018
Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections and Archives
Leatherby Libraries, Fourth Floor
Curated by Rand Boyd, Special Collections and Archives Librarian
Frank Mt. Pleasant Library of Special Collections & Archives Hours
Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday CLOSED