The Ground Beneath Our Feet

The Nikola P. Prokopovich Papers on Land Subsidence

Previously on exhibit in the Special Collections Display Cases from Fall Quarter 2011 - Winter Quarter 2012.
Now available as a Web Exhibit

Special Collections is pleased to present an exhibit on the papers of engineering geologist Nikola P. Prokopovich. Dr. Prokopovich (1918-1999) was born in Kiev, Ukraine and came to the United States in 1950. He made his home in Sacramento, where he worked as a geologist with the Bureau of Reclamation's Mid-Pacific Region. Dr. Prokopovich worked out of the Sacramento office from 1958-1986, investigating the geology and geochemistry of California statewide water projects, including the Central Valley Project and the Solano Project. He was an avid field geologist and spent as much time as possible on-site, collecting his own data. Prokopovich was particularly interested in the engineering geology of the Central Valley Project's canals and dam sites and in the effects of both the state water projects and field irrigation on the surrounding landscape. The collection includes draft reports, memoranda, and published writings, as well as nearly 25,000 slides and photographs documenting his work and the land around his work sites. Because of the wide-ranging impact of the Central Valley Project, the Prokopovich papers will be of interest to a number of disciplines: geology; environmental science and policy; water science; soil science; and history, especially history of agriculture.

Processing of the Nikola P. Prokopovich Papers was generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). The University of California, Davis Special Collections was awarded a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant from 2010-2012, "Uncovering California's Environmental Collections," in collaboration with eight additional special collections and archival repositories throughout the state and the California Digital Library (CDL). Grant objectives included processing of over 33 hidden collections related to the state's environment and environmental history. The collections document an array of important sub-topics such as irrigation, mining, forestry, agriculture, industry, land use, activism, and research. Together they form a multifaceted picture of the natural world and the way it was probed, altered, exploited and protected in California over the twentieth century.

The finding aid for the Nikola P. Prokopovich Papers is available at the Online Archive of California (

Exhibit prepared by Manuscript Archivist Liz Phillips

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Nikola P. Prokopovich in a tributary wash, ca. 1950

    Nikola P. Prokopovich in a tributary wash, ca. 1950