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Davis History Timeline Decisions, by John Lofland

Notes on making decisions on the content of the tabloid-size timeline chart titled Davis History Timeline. This is a work-in-progess and therefore fragmentary.

This page contains notes explaining how I made and make decisions on the content of the tabloid-size chart titled Davis History Timeline and places in which to find additional information on various topics.

This is an evolving list. Many of the notes are responses to questions people pose about how something was decided.


My sources are, overall, listed on this website in Folder 1.1., "Core Volumes."


1. Sixteen Decades. 

1.1. Davis has not existed 16 decades. Rather, it has existed in 16 decades.


2. Population. 

2.1. Davis population figures are available in many places including on the Davis History website at

3. Two Population Periods. 


4. University Farm/UCD Enrollment. 


5. Static But Then Expanding Footprint. 

5.1. The series of footprint maps are screenshots from the City of Davis website which has a slide show movie of the maps where one can "see" the city growing.


6. Nine Eras. 

6.1. The "nine eras" were devised for the book Davis: Radical Changes, Deep Constants (Arcadia, 2004), where a chapter is devoted to each one.


7. Defining Events. 

7.1. The concept of a "defining event" is discussed in note 9.

7.2. Here are some events that rank number 9 or lower and therefore miss being on the timeline chart. They are all highly important events, just not

 as important. Also, many of them are a logical development of one of the charted events rather than having started a trend. 

1. One of these is Incorporation of the City of Davis, 1917.

City incorporation is obviously important but every city has one. Therefore, it was not unique to Davis and not eligible for the "defining events" list. Incorporation is like World War II: A big deal but everyone had the same big deal.

2.  Route 40 bypass followed by Route 80 bypass.

3. Hunt Cannery opening, Hunt Cannery Closing

4. Target approved in a public vote.

5. Covell Village disapproved in a public vote

6. Village Homes

7. Energy efficiency regulations started.

8. Davis cooperatives

9. Farmers Market

10. Trenching to lower Route 13 when it was made a limited access road

11. Smoking Ban


7.3. Defining Events photo sources;

l. Excerpted from a photo in Larkey, Davisville '68.

2. Excerpted from the front page of the Davis Enterprise for the date shown.

3. Excerpt from the cover of the book of the title shown appearing on the world wide web.

4. Excerpt from a photograph of xxxxx Blaney presenting the Davis Core Area Plan appearing in the Davis Enterprise. For discussion of this plan see, John Lofland, xxxxxx, xxxxxxx.

5. Excerpt from a photo in the archives of the Hattie Weber Museum of Davis.

6. Excerpt from the official City of Davis photograph of the 1972 City Council scanned from the picture of the Council mounted on the wall in the City of Davis Community Chambers.

7. Excerpt from a photo of Mace Ranch monument sign appearing on the Davis Wiki

8. Excerpt from the City of Davis Municipal Code.


8. Defining People.

8.1. The concept of "defining people" is discussed in note 9.

8.2.For more on Jerome Davis see David xxxxx, After the Gold Rush, which details his farm failures and troubles proving he owned his farm was not not simply squatting on a Mexican land grant.

8.3. George Pierce appears prominently in David xxxxx Cultivating California. The UCD Special Collections Department has extensive original materials on and by Pierce. The photograph used here is from UCD SP.

8.4. W. W. Scott. Photo excerpted from a larger photo appearing in Lofland & Haig.

8.5. Calvin Covell. Photo excerpted from a larger photo appearing in Lofland & Haig

8.6. Bob Black. Photo excerpted from the City of Davis Official photo of the 1972 City Council.

8.7. Frank Ramos. Photo excerpted from an internet website.

8.8. Julie Partansky. Photo excerpted from the official City Council photo of the City Council when she was mayor.


9. Criteria for Deciding “Davis-defining” Events & People in Davis History.

The idea of a small number of “Davis-defining” events and people has a particular meaning as used on the “Davis History At-a-Glance” one-page timeline.

To be “Davis-defining” an event or person must have contributed in a) fundamental way to a shaping the character of Davis that was b) unique to Davis.

1. By “fundamental way” I mean that in that event or person’s absence, one can plausibly suggest Davis would look very different than it did or does.

This matter is of course a variable. An enormous number of events and people have shaped Davis. The effort here, though, is to identify those few events and persons who were qualitatively above others--if that is possible.

2. The second part of this definition is “unique” to Davis.”

2.1.  An event or person may have little or no consequence in the wider world, but was key in Davis.

2.2. So, there is something of a standard list of major events that affected Davis as well as every other place in the U. S. and much of the rest of the world. Counting only from the time of Davis' founding, these include:

a. The U. S. Civil War

b. World War I

c. The Great Depression

d. World War II

e.  The Vietnam War.

Wars,indeed, seem all purpose generators of a wide variety of changes, both ethnologically and socially. They certainly swamp the eight events I list as "defining events." Wars show us that we talk about things unique of Davis, we are talking about "history at the margin," so to speak.

2.2. More elaboration: Something may be of enormous importance in shaping the character of Davis but that something also shaped any number of other places in those same ways and did not do things obviously unique to Davis. As just listed, wars, economic panics, depressions, and recessions are obvious examples of such events that are also obviously “Davis-defining.”

In a more refined terminology I might distinguish between "Davis-defining unique-to-Davis” matters and “Davis-defining but not confined to Davis.” But I trust that is not necessary here.

3. Using this definition as our framework, how does one identify “Davis-defining” events and people?

3.1. The answer is: It is not easy; and, there is a degree of unavoidable subjectivity.  

3.2. I think it is important to distinguish between a) events and people who initiate a large and important line of action of Davis-shaping action and b) events and people who further (sometimes quite significantly) to an already underway line of Davis-shaping action.

Some well-known events and people are not on this list because, despite their fame (or infamy), their role was promoting something already underway rather than starting a major new Davis-shaping direction.

3.3. My working-process is to take an existing list of eight events and seven people and to ask myself of a new event or name: Should this one displace one of those on the list? I arrived at the current lists through several iterations of that process. I assume the process has not ended. The current entries are simply those that have survived at this point.

I hope it might make historically illuminating discussion to put forth events or people not on these lists to and to discuss whether or not they or them should displace one or more of what or who is on the lists.

3.4. The spirit of what I am trying to do with the two "defining" lists is illustrated, I think, by other lists sometimes titled "events that changed history." An example of this kind of effort appeared in the New York Times recently in a ad for a series of lectures by Professor Rufus Fears. He was offering for sale 36 lectures, one each on "events that changed history."  There are several other lists using this same logic. A Google search on the phrase "events that changed history" brings up several examples.

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