The John M. Pfau Library at Cal State San Bernardino has received grant funding to support two Inland Empire-focused preservation projects: “Unearthing the Sound Recordings of Clabe Hangan” and “Amplifying Unheard Voices from the Inland Empire.”

The projects are respectively supported by California Revealed, a California State Library-supported program that helps the state’s heritage institutions digitize and provide long-term online access and preservation to collections significant to California history, and the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, a leading supporter of social science research for Los Angeles and the surrounding region that provides grants and scholarships to various public and private institutions annually.

“Unearthing the Sound Recordings of Clabe Hangan” will digitize 56 at-risk, historical reel-to-reel tapes from Clabe Hangan, a prominent African American folk musician, civil rights activist, and educator in the Inland Empire during the 1960s-70s. The recordings feature Clabe Hangan, Keith McNeil, Sally Thomas, Sam Hinton and other folk artists rehearsing and performing at various music venues throughout Southern California, including Penny University in San Bernardino.

“This is a very unique collection of rare rehearsals and performances that Clabe Hangan recorded over the years at various venues,” said Eric Milenkiewicz, university archivist in the John M. Pfau Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, who secured both grants. “They don’t exist anywhere else in the world and haven’t been heard in decades. Through this project, these recordings will be digitally preserved and made available to the public for the first time.” 

All items will be digitized off-site by a professional audio-visual restoration vendor, with a completion date set for December 2023. The digitized recordings will be made available online through the California Revealed and CSUSB Scholar Works websites. 

“Amplifying Unheard Voices from the Inland Empire” will transcribe, process and provide access to more than 125 oral history interview recordings documenting the history and experiences of underrepresented communities in the Inland Empire. This project, set to start in the fall, includes interviews from the Bridges That Carried Us Over Project, a community-based initiative aimed at documenting Black history in the Inland Empire, and the South Colton Oral History Project aimed at documenting life in South Colton, a 1.3 square-mile ethnically segregated Mexican American community within the city limits of Colton, Calif. from 1890 to 1960. 

All interviews will be professionally transcribed by a human transcription service due to the nature of the recordings (e.g., poor audio quality, multilingual, multiple interviewees) and the complex transcription work required that cannot be accommodated in-house or by automated transcription tools. The interview transcripts and recordings will be made available online through the CSUSB ScholarWorks website.

The histories of the Black and Latinx communities who have played an integral role in building and shaping the fabric of the Inland Empire have remained largely absent from the region’s historical record,” Milenkiewicz said. “There is little, publicly available documentation of what these communities were like in the past, the everyday nature of their lives, and the discrimination they endured. This project will help expose this history and amplify these narratives that have long been silenced.” 

For questions or more information, contact Eric Milenkiewicz at