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Digitization at the speed of light: 6,000 photos of sci-fi history now on Calisphere

Almost 6,000 newly digitized photos of science fiction and fantasy conventions, held by UC Riverside, are now available on Calisphere. See collection.

The photos depict the World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”) and its attendees throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. They were taken by Jay Kay Klein, a science fiction author and fan who began attending and photographing conventions in the 1940s and continued to do so for the next 40 years. Klein donated these and many other photos and papers to UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy. Depicting fan culture, literary figures, and events like a pre-series airing of Star Trek, the Worldcon photos capture a significant part of American cultural and literary history.

Worldcons always have an additional local name. The published collection includes photographs from Pittcon (Pittsburg, 1960), Chicon III (Chicago, 1962), Discon I (Washington D.C., 1963), Tricon (Cleveland, 1966), Nycon 3 (New York City, 1967), Baycon (Oakland, 1968), St. Louiscon (St. Louis, 1969), and Noreascon One (Boston, 1971).

Within hours of publication of the photographs, science fiction social media lit up with comments from fans – many of whom had attended the conventions and could provide more information about the people and places depicted. In response, UC Riverside set up channels where fans can send in descriptive metadata for individual photos. If you have corrections and/or enhancements for the collection, please submit them through this form.

The Jay Kay Klein photographs were digitized as the first pilot in a UC Libraries project with the goal of developing a fast, efficient, cost-effective digitization process for non-book materials. UC Riverside, CDL, and digitization vendor Pixel Acuity collaborated on a defining a workflow, modeled after a program pioneered at the Smithsonian Institution, for producing digital images and metadata as quickly as possible and at the lowest possible cost. 5,933 negatives were made available on Calisphere within four weeks of the start of the project. CDL will be working with other campuses and collections to further experiment with and refine this mass digitization approach.

For more information


A fan identified this as the photographer Jay Kay Klein (left) with writer Frederick Pohl. Tricon (1966).


Star Trek presentation at Nycon 3 (1967).


A fan identified this as (from left to right) Ray Bradbury, Philip Tippett, and Greg Bear. Baycon (1968).


A fan identified this as writer Alexis A. Gilliland with his wife “Doll” and son. Noreascon (1971).