Project13 Mills Campus

Mills College Map Collection

Source Map North-Corrected Map Year Other Versions Some historical notes on this map
1880s.png Source:1880s None The land that Mills College was built on was purchased in 1871, and went through a long slow process of development. This map was a land survey of Mills College. You can tell that it is already being developed for the college because of the presence of Seminary Avenue, which used to be a dirt Post Road (May 2008:23).
1885.png Source:1885 None This map is of the San Antonio Rancho, or the parcel of land that the Spanish set up in California. You can see Mills on the map in the lower left corner.
1915.png Source:1915 1915 Map pieces In 1912, the last of the founders of Mills College, Susan Mills died. It was at this point that the Board of Trustees began to think about planning out the school in a more intentional way. This map represents the end of the school's founding development and the beginning of the modern era for Mills (May 2008:18-19,44-45).
1920.png Source:1920s None Note the Gymnasium and Hellman Pool, added in 1923. Today we know this area as Adams Plaza, where you can still see a plaque commemorating the pool (May 2008:42-43).
1928.png Source: 1928 Download GeoTIF (8MB .zip)
QGIS Layers (work in progress) Download Original Image (~8MB PNG)
In this map, note that the school has acquired the northwestern triangle of land that would someday contain Richard's Road and the main gate to the school.
1938.png Source:1938 None Between 1925-1940, architect Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. completed 13 projects including the Art Gallery, Ethel Moore Hall, and Richards Gate (May 2008:57-58).
1941.png Source:1941 None By 1941, the construction of many of the residence halls, as well as Faculty Village had been completed, accomodating an ever-growing population at Mills (May 2008:63,67-69).
1950s.png Source:1950s Rotated Image (~8MB PNG) Original image (~7MB PNG) The 1950 marks the end of the second era of historical significance in Mills architecture. One of the last buildings built in this era was the Reinhardt Alumae House, a modern building to the west of Lake Aliso. It was built in honor of Aurelia Reinhardt's death in 1948. She had been president from 1916-1943, through the age of automobiles, the Great Depression and two world wars.
1966.png Source:1966 None The MacArthur Freeway was built in 1963. Originally, the freeway would have been built through a greater portion of Mills, however, the school was saved by Mills' tiny cemetary (known as Sunnyside), where the founders are buried, due to a loophole in laws that allow states to take land for public use.
1971.png Source:1971 None Most notable in this map is the addition of the Walter A. Haas Pavilion, constructed in 1970. Also note the Norman Bridge Health Center has become the Children's school, but this won't be the last time its purpose changes, as we now know this building as the Vera Long Building for the Social Sciences
1983.png Source:1983 QGIS Georeferenced Map and QGIS Map The Soccer field goes in by Richard's Gate, and the Isabella Cowell Health Center becomes the Cowell Building. Note the brown outline of Mills over the map in the North-corrected image. I have taken a screenshot of the georeferenced map.
11-13%20122.JPG 1990.png Source:1990 None The 1990s marks an era of purpose, to preserve, restore, rehabilitate and reconstruct the campus. Adding innovative architecture as well as strategizing a way of maintaining our historic buildings. This means subtle changes to the oval and other historic landmarks (May 2008:80-82,95). Note the addition of the Olin Library, and the old library is repurposed into Carnegie Hall.
1999.png Source:1999 None Here we see the new Aquatic center show up, which means the Hellman Pool designed by architect Julia Morgan, is cemeted over, creating Adams Plaza.

Mills Map-making Toolkit

GIS Mills Map Shapefiles
Myers-20131027-01-MillsPresent.png Mills Spatiallite file or Mills Shapefiles, including roads

Some notes on the creation of this project

In order to put all of the pieces together I had to figure out several things. One, where was I going to get maps of Mills from the last 100+ years, two, how was I going to put them up, and three, what was I going to do with them.

I contacted Mitch Allen, our resident archaeologist, who pointed me in the direction of the Mills Library and Janice Braun. Ms. Braun collected and organized a series of old maps, which she was nice enough to let me take pictures of.

Once I had the pictures, I had to figure out how to rotate them so that they were all more or less oriented the same. Photoshop was suggested to me, but it's expensive. That was when I discovered Gimp, which is basically the free, open source, evil twin of Photoshop. Once I downloaded it, I used the software to rotate all of the images to orient North correctly, using a blank Mills map I created in GIS as a guide. Then I had to take screen shots of each picture to save as PNGs, because Gimp only saves files as it's own little special file type. Note also, that what is up here isn't even all of the pictures I have. I have more pictures of Oakland with Mills in it, as well as maps from the same era as some of the maps that area already up here.

Once they were all oriented correctly, I quickly ran into georeferencing issues. The oldest maps are all hand-drawn, and computer-rendered map projections were not a priority for map makers much before the 80s. So while I did succeed in georeferencing maps up to 1983, the rest are all distorted and wonky, and I'm not sure how to make it right. To be fair, most of these are little maps intended for students, and were probably not made with precise accuracy in mind.

So instead of making digital maps of each one, I decided to do historical research on each one, primarily using a book I got from Janice Braun, Celebrating the Cultural Landscape Heritage of Mills College. The book is very educational when it comes to the history of Mills' architecture and historical figures. Unfortunately it doesn't have much to say about Mills' history after 1950, so I kind of had to wing it.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this project, and I hope someone else further along will take the next step and digitize these maps.

Primary Sources

Source: Mills College
Source: 1936?
Source: 1950?
Source: 1967?
Source: ?
Source: 1912?
Source: Sanborn Insurance Maps 1915??
QGIS Layers (2013)

Works Cited

Oakland Maps

Mills Maps

  • N.d. Mills Library Map Collection. Rare Book Room, Mills College, Oakland.

May, Vonn Marie, Robert Sabbatini and Karen Fiene

  • 2008 Celebrating the Cultural Landscape Heritage of Mills College. Center for the Book Mills College: Oakland.