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Santa Barbara Legacy Reel Audio Tape Collection

Identifier: AR-2022-003

Content Description

The Santa Barbara Legacy Reel Audio Tape Collection contain recordings of oral histories, radio programs, meetings, lectures, telephone conversations, ceremonies, and music perfomances of local old timers and influential people. These ninety-eighty (98) quarter-inch (1⁄4") reel-to-reel magnetic tapes represent the earliest audio recordings made by the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.


  • 1952 - 1977


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head Archivist of the Gledhill Library.

Biographical / Historical

The Santa Barbara Historical Society was formed in October 1932 to foster research and study of the history of the city and county of Santa Barbara. In 1943, the Society became a California non-profit corporation with exhibit and storage space in the tower room of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. In the 1950s the Franciscans offered the Society office and exhibition space at the Santa Barbara Mission. It was during this period that curator W. Edwin Gledhill began documenting the Society's preservation efforts by means of audio recordings. The capturing of memories on reel-to-reel magnetic tape continued into the 1970s until others took over the Society's recording efforts using the newer and more compact technology of audio cassettes.


97 Reels (in 3 record storage boxes)

22 Electronic files

Language of Materials



The Santa Barbara Legacy Reel Audio Tapes Collection contains the earliest recordings of people and events of mid-20th century Santa Barbara historic preservation efforts. From the 1950s into the 1970s, there was a concerted effort at the local, county, and state levels to raise awareness of Santa Barbara's storied past. During this period the Historical Society, as the Museum was then known, began a publications program, established a decade-long presence at the Santa Barbara Mission, and built a permanent museum in the heart of downtown. Through the efforts of its leaders, the historic El Pueblo Viejo district was established along with a spin-off organization that would reconstruct the Presidio, Santa Barbara's birthplace. This collection of reel-to-reel tapes documents many of the key events of this golden era of historic preservation in Santa Barbara.


Tapes are arranged in chronological order by Created Date, then by first Interviewee, then by first Speaker, and finally by Title. See online items for listing of recordings.

Condition Description

Audio tapes are in usable condition although the true physical condition and quality of the recordings are unknown until they are digitized and made accessible.

Processing Information

The Santa Barbara Legacy Reel Audio Tape Collection was processed by Leslie A. Ervin and Chris S. Ervin CA from April to July 2022.

Guide to the Santa Barbara Legacy Reel Audio Tape Collection
In Progress
Chris S. Ervin CA
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First edition

Repository Details

Part of the Gledhill Library Repository

136 E. De La Guerra
Santa Barbara California 93101 USA