You are here

New Digital Collection: Modini Ranch Journals


Have you ever wondered what life was like on a northern California cattle and sheep ranch in the twentieth century? Check out our newest digital collection, the Modini Ranch Journals. This amazing collection features digital copies of the personal journals of James (Jim) Lawrence Modini Jr. (1917-2011), donated to Sonoma State by Audubon Canyon Ranch in 2013.The forty-six journals span 70 years, from 1935 to 2005, and offer a vivid account of life on a northern California sheep and cattle ranch during the twentieth century.

The first ten of Modini’s handwritten journals are now online. The Library’s Special Collections will continue work on adding the next thirty-six journals to the North Bay Digital Collections, where they will offer an invaluable historical, anthropological, and environmental resource for students, faculty and all those interested in a personal look at Sonoma County over the last century.

Jim Modini was born in Sonoma County, California and grew up working on his family’s local ranch. He later inherited the ranch and he and his wife, Shirley, lived there from World War II until his death. Modini started his journals at age 18 and continued to chronicle ranch life until age 86. Journal entries include accounts of weather, prices, wildlife sightings, events, sketches, and musings. The Modinis wished to keep their 1,700 acre ranch wild forever. They worked with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District to protect it from development and in 2009, they donated the land to Audubon Canyon Ranch, a land preservation group. To make an appointment to view any of the original journals in the Library’s Modini Ranch Journals Collection, contact the Special Collections Department.