Explore the history of Sonoma County through the eyes of one of the area's most respected journalists

November 4, 2021
Gaye LeBaron sits in front of the Press Democrat's card catalog

A virtual exhibit will highlight the work of longtime Press Democrat columnist Gaye LeBaron, who wrote more than 8,000 pieces covering local stories of resilience and triumph.

(Rohnert Park, CA) — The Sonoma State University Library is hosting a virtual exhibit highlighting material from its Gaye LeBaron Collection.

Mapping our Community: Gaye LeBaron and the Stories of Sonoma County features materials from the Library’s Special Collections department and its Gaye LeBaron Collection.

The virtual exhibit shares some of the amazing community stories that appeared in LeBaron’s weekly column in the Press Democrat. We invite you to learn about the resilience of Sonoma County’s Japanese American community in the face of legalized discrimination; encounter how Mexican migrant laborers of the Bracero program made an indelible mark on our region’s social and agricultural landscape; marvel at the visions of egalitarianism shared by various utopian groups who chose Sonoma County as their home; and discover the trailblazing and entrepreneurial spirit of prominent African Americans in Santa Rosa. 

The exhibit spotlights Gaye LeBaron herself and the nature of her research when writing her weekly columns. “Countless contributions and achievements of people of color are absent from Sonoma County’s historical memory,” noted Catherine Fonseca, a librarian and member of the Library Art Committee who helped curate this digital exhibit. “It was exciting to revisit Gaye LeBaron’s columns which so often highlight these very stories, and to directly encounter those communities of color through the preserved correspondence, oral histories, local documents, photos, and artifacts found in this collection.”

"Gaye LeBaron has spent decades speaking truth to power," said Dr. Karen G. Schneider, Dean of the Library. "Her journalism tells the stories of everyone in Sonoma County."

We invite the North Bay community to enjoy the virtual exhibit, curated by the Library Art Committee and the Special Collections Department of the Sonoma State University Library and funded by the Jean and Charles Schulz endowment. If you would like to support our Special Collections initiatives, please visit our Gaye LeBaron Fund page

Gaye LeBaron, columnist for the Press Democrat newspaper and the Press Democrat leadership team, selected Sonoma State University to house her research collection in 2000. Gaye has continued to contribute materials in the intervening years as the collection grows.

Media Contact

Julia Gonzalez