Nestled in the mountains high above the coastal city of Santa Cruz is a campus of the University of California. Santa Cruz embraces its counterculture so it is naturally the place to find the archives of a band that lived at the center of the counterculture movement in its heyday. That band, with its 30 year history, is the Grateful Dead.
We looked around, and UC Santa Cruz seems the best possible home
When donating the Grateful Dead’s archives in 2008, guitarist Bob Weir said, “We looked around, and UC Santa Cruz seems the best possible home.” They are now available to the public in the renovated McHenry Library on campus (in a room called “Dead Central”) and online in a “socially constructed” fashion. Folks can contribute by giving more information or donating items to the collection. Everything from business records to tickets and t-shirts to fan-decorated envelopes is there. There are currently 45,000 artifacts available online and more to come as they are made digitally available. The physical space for the exhibitions only holds a few hundred pieces at a time, so several exhibitions are planned.
Not included in the online collection are recordings of tapes from fans, but that is only because the Internet Archive as well as other sites already has these available. Taped shows are those mythic collections that were traded freely across the country and around the world by mail, from Deadhead to Deadhead, as they shared experiences before the advent of the internet and social media. It is possible to search archives of taped shows through the archives website, and listen (like I did when I typed this up).
- Go check out some Grateful Dead history.
- Dig it, man