‘The first draft of history’: Doe Library features Daily Cal exhibit

Photo of Daily Cal exhibit at Doe Library
Caroline Lobel/Senior Staff
The exhibit will remain in the lobby of Doe Library through the end of July.

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Display cases in the lobby of Doe Library reflect more than 150 years of The Daily Californian’s history — from its inception as a campus-affiliated paper to the independent, student-run publication known today. 

The exhibit, which has been on display since January, showcases decades of the Daily Cal’s print issues and highlights a variety of historical events. From prominent milestones for the paper — from events leading to the Daily Cal’s independence to the rich history of local social movements — the exhibit provides insight into the publication’s deep relationship with not only campus, but also Berkeley as the city’s official paper of record.

“We often feel as students as not significant, but what we do does matter. It’s interesting to take a step back and see just what the first draft of history looks like,” said current managing editor Christopher Ying. “This exhibit gives people a sense of just how impactful the Berkeley community has been throughout both state and national history.”

The exhibit also includes old desk drawers displaying decades of retiring editors’ signatures, a long-standing tradition of outgoing staffers “signing” off from their editorial roles. 

Former managing editor Mallika Seshadri said the exhibit is reflective of the city’s deep student-centric past, noting that students on and off campus have been at the “forefront” of Berkeley history. Seshadri added the displays make viewers aware of the Daily Cal’s “larger purpose” of recording the history of Berkeley.

“(The Daily Cal) covered things we saw in textbooks in high school,” Seshadri said. “Students have at so many points in history been the ones to get the ball rolling on conversations that people have not been comfortable having.”

According to former editor-in-chief and president Jasper Sundeen, the exhibit is reflective of both how the publication and journalism in general have evolved.

Sundeen noted a discontinued fashion issue on display and other details chronicling the decline of print media, such as a sharp decrease in print advertisements. Ying added that it was “weird” to view print editions that were produced in a different cultural context, such as ones including cigarette advertisements.

“I wonder what the exhibit will look like 150 years from now,” Sundeen said. “More production happens online and that’s a huge change we are still coping with.”

Daily Cal Editor-in-Chief and President Katherine Shok said the exhibit is incredibly valuable, as it stands as a reminder for current staffers of the “journalistic roots” of the paper.

The exhibit will remain in the lobby of Doe Library until the end of July. 

“The fact that so many previous staffers were involved in its creation, including an editor-in-chief from when I was a freshman, makes it a precious representation of our presence on campus and the good we’ve been able to do,” Shok said.

Matt Brown is the executive news editor. Contact him at [email protected], and follow him on Twitter at @maattttbrown.