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David Boulé California Orange Collection

Identifier: H-Mss-1098

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content of the Collection

This collection contains materials relating to the citrus growing industry of Southern California. The majority of these items were created for the marketing and sale of oranges and lemons, including advertisements, recipe booklets, signs and sales guides for vendors, posters, and magazines. Audio and visual materials include sheet music, vinyl records, DVDs, and a large collection of photographs. Photographs of note include rare unstaged images of laborers of Asian and Mexican descent. A small number of business documents include timesheets, receipts, and some correspondence. Artifacts in the collection range from souvenirs such as perfume, candy in novelty orange crates, kitchenware, and jewelry, to items used in the production and packing of oranges, including a Sunkist orange crate, brass crate printing die, an employee identification badge, and smudge pot.


  • 1882-2016

Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: English.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biography / Administrative History

There is a strong case to be made that California’s identity, the “dream of California,” was built on the orange. The citrus industry’s boom days created more than fields of oranges and lemons; its various marketing campaigns sought not only to sell their products but to project an image of California as a paradise, a pleasant land with a mild climate that could not help but burst with fresh fruit. Of course, the reality was that California did not naturally produce these “Gardens of the Hesperides,” or even make it particularly easy for aspiring orchardists to develop them. Successful citrus farming resulted from precise management, imported water, precautions against the weather, and the hard work of laborers in the orchards and packing houses. The “dream” was as constructed as the orchards themselves.

Citrus cultivation was first brought to Baja California in 1793 by the Spanish Jesuit missionaries, and in 1796 was carried north by Franciscan friars as they established missions throughout California. Citrus was frequently grown at the missions, including a large grove of 400 trees at Mission San Gabriel. It was from this mission that William Wolfskill, a U.S. native and naturalized Mexican citizen, borrowed seedlings in order to begin his own grove, the first commercial scale orchard in the state, in 1840. At the time of his death in 1866, Wolfskill’s property boasted 60,000 grape vines and over 4,000 orange and lemon trees. More growers quickly followed, and California became a major producer of the nation’s oranges.

This collection was developed by David Boulé, a third generation Californian, enthusiastic collector, researcher, archivist, and author. His vast and varied collection started small with the purchase of two postcards depicting the idealized fields of oranges that were so typical of the California dream’s image. Since then, his collection grew to include historic photographs, hundreds of postcards, rare advertising and marketing materials, books, phonograph records, posters, journals and personal papers, newspapers and press clippings, and many California orange-themed souvenirs and promotional items. He has lectured on the impact of California’s King Citrus, and his book, The Orange and Dream of California, was published in 2014 by Angel City Press and was first catalogued in WorldCat by Honnold/Mudd Special Collections. In its mission statement, Boulé describes this collection as “explor[ing] the California citrus empire, how it shaped the state’s image and culture, and how the orange became a symbol for California’s historic promise – as a place of beauty, abundance, and potential. In addition to materials that portray an idealized vision of California and King Citrus, the collection includes items that illuminate the significant labor, enterprise and economic aspects of the California citrus industry.”

This “significant labor” was sometimes officially depicted in an idealized sense, but a large proportion of the laborers involved were ignored in the construction of the “California dream.” People of color made up most of the industry’s workforce, yet were largely hidden from view. The Boulé collection includes rare images of the Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican workers, both men and women, who provided the majority of the labor that was so crucial for the success of large-scale citrus production in California. Other items of note include industry artifacts such as an intact wooden Sunkist packing crate, early electric juicers, and a smudge pot. Mr. Boulé generously donated the entirety of his collection to Special Collections at The Claremont Colleges Library in 2017, where it is a keystone collection and has already been featured in several exhibits.


Boule, David. The Orange and the Dream of California. Santa Monica: Angel City Press, 2013.

Reccow, Louis. The Orange County Citrus Strikes of 1935-1936: The “Forgotten People” in Revolt. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 1981, © 1971.

Thompson and West. History of Los Angeles County California, with Illustrations. Berkeley: Howell-North, 1959.

Wilson, Iris Higbie. William Wolfskill 1798-1866: Frontier Trapper to California Ranchero. Glendale: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1965.


27.25 Linear Feet (2 records boxes, 1 doc box, 1 oversize doc box, 2 short doc boxes, 2 flat boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes, 2 multi-tray artifact boxes, 3 sectional artifact boxes, 2 music roll cartons, 1 stereoscope box, 4 cartons, 1 negatives box, 8 custom artifact boxes)


This collection contains materials related to orange and citrus cultivation in California in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Items include advertisements, vendor guides, labor documents, photographs, artifacts relating to production and packing, and a sizable collection of souvenirs and products offered to tourists and consumers. Developed by author, researcher, and avid collector David Boulé, this collection contains many valuable resources relating to the California citrus industry, including rare posters, pamphlets, and candid photographs. Mr. Boulé's collection has long been a fixture of the LA Archives Bazaar and the subject of many exhibits and talks. In 2017, Mr. Boulé chose to donate the entirety of his collection to the Special Collections of The Claremont Colleges Library. The bulk of the materials are made up of advertisements and souvenirs, including posters, magazine ads, booklets, postcards, figurines, pins, and perfume. Items of note include photographs of the people of color who worked as orange pickers and in the packing houses, a rare 1940 Sunkist poster of California with illustrations of the citrus cultivation process, and artifacts such as the first commercial and home electric juicers, an intact packing crate, brass crate printing die, and a "giant orange" papier mache container.

Organization and Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into the following series:

Series 1: Marketing Materials, 1882-1984

Subseries 1.1: National Orange Show Materials, 1893-1978

Subseries 1.2: Vendor Materials, 1925-1947

Series 2: Audio/Visual Materials, 1893-2010

Series 3: Business Documents, 1907-1953

Series 4: Artifacts, 1911-1966

Series 5: Research Materials, 1886-2016

Materials have been organized alphabetically by type, and chronologically within each type.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of David Boulé, 2017.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Items Removed from the Collection

Books were removed from the collection and catalogued separately, and shelved in Special Collections.

Processing Information

Processed by Sara Chetney in 2018. Materials were rehoused in archival folders and boxes, oversized items were separated and housed in flat folders. Photographs have been sleeved in mylar, and fragile items were encased in mylar and housed separately. Artifacts are housed in boxes with customized trays and sections, with archival batting and tissue supports. Custom boxes were created for large, heavy, or unsually shaped artifacts. These boxes were lined with Volara padding, and foam supports were placed to prevent artifact movement within the housing. Original order was maintained where present, with other materials separated into series based on type or intended use.

Supplemental materials with information about objects in the collection were placed in the Boulé collection file. Please contact Special Collections staff to view this file.
David Boulé California Orange Collection
Finding aid prepared by Sara Chetney, MA
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections, Honnold/Mudd Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States