Saturday, January 14, 2017

This Day in History:
Precedent for a Muslim Registry? Presidential Proclamation No. 2537

Notice to Aliens of Enemy Nationalities
February 9, 1942
Courtesy National Archives Catalog
This U. S. Department of Justice notice directed aliens of German, Italian, and Japanese nationalities to apply for a Certificate of Identification by February 28, 1942

Soon to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, President Elect Donald Trump has advocated establishing a registry for Muslim residents in the United States and a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants to United States—components of a war on terror.

On this day, January 14, we look at the alien registry of 1942, a precursor to events across the nation during World War II, which had significant impact on our state’s Japanese American citizens during the war.

January 14, 1942: Only five and a half weeks after Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor triggering U.S. entry into World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation No. 2537. The proclamation required non-citizens of enemy nationality—Italians, Germans, and Japanese—aged 14 and older to register with the United States Department of Justice. These individuals then would be issued a Certificate of Identification for Aliens of Enemy Nationality.

Friedrich Roetter’s Application for Certificate of Identification, 1942

Proclamation No. 2537 also sanctioned measures of control over the travel and conduct of aliens, including property ownership rights, and allowed the arrest, detention, and internment of aliens who were in violation of federally designated restricted areas.

The proclamation, in fact, was a follow-up—a second registration as it were—for those aliens who had registered earlier with the 1940 Alien Registration Act, a national security measure. Preliminary tabulations from this Act identified the enemy alien population in the United States as at least 315,000 Germans, nearly 700,000 Italians, and 92,000 Japanese.

Heigoro Endo’s Alien Registration Card, 1940 
Courtesy The Endo Family
As U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle noted in a broadcast, the certificate was to be used “at all times and in all places, for the duration of the war.” Explaining his position he said, “I describe the identification programs as another part of the job of making America safe—safety for the nation against the small minority of alien enemies who may be contemplating trouble, and safety for the great majority of aliens who are above suspicion.” A little over a million aliens of German, Italian, and Japanese origin registered.

Toyo Miyatake, Boys Behind Barbed Wire, 1944
Courtesy of Alan Miyatake
Proclamation No. 2537 ushered in an era of what today is considered a national shame: the relocation and incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and residents of Japanese descent living in the Pacific Coast region. A month after its issue, on February 19, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing the War Department to set aside military areas from which Japanese Americans were excluded, thus paving away for the establishment of “internment” camps to which they were forcibly removed. For the duration of the war these men, women, and children—most of them U.S. citizens—lived in prison camps in California, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Arkansas.

Also sent to camps throughout the country were approximately 11,507 German Americans, an estimated 4,500 ethnic Germans and Italians from Latin America, and non-citizen Italian-born individuals, especially Italian diplomats, businessmen, and international students. These camps were operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

German and Italian migrants leaving Philadelphia for a camp in Butte, Montana, August 1941
Associated Press; courtesy of
Despite his advocacy of the Enemy Alien Certificate of Identification, U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle offered a measure of caution. “Let us not be hasty in our judgment of them. Let us not deprive them of their jobs,” he said. “Let us not be suspicious of them unless we have grounds for suspicion. Let us not persecute these people as an outlet of our emotions against the bandits who are at the moment in control of the nations where they were born.”

As the United States revisits its foreign policy and protocols in a war against terror, and as President Elect Trump’s position continues to invite controversy, Biddle’s words are frighteningly relevant.

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager

Francis Biddle, Identification of Alien Enemies, an address by the Honorable Francis Biddle, Attorney General of the United States, on Sunday February 1, 1942, 7:15 to 7:30 pm, E.S.T. over the Columbia Broadcasting System, Washington, D. C.;

Karen E. Ebel, Timeline, German American Internees in the United States during WWII;

Lynn Goodsell, “World War II Enemy Aliens Program: Notice to Aliens of Enemy Nationalities,” Oct. 13, 15, 2009, National Archives, Washington, DC;

Abby Phillip and Abigail Hauslohner, “Trump on the future of proposed Muslim ban, registry,” Washington Post, December 12, 2016;

United States Department of Justice, “Regulations Controlling Travel and Other Conduct of Aliens of Enemy Nationalities,” February 5, 1942 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1942);


Don’t miss this CHS event commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066:
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 6:00pm
Celebrating the California Historical Society’s 1972 Landmark Exhibition and Book,
Executive Order 9066
Please join the California Historical Society as we celebrate our landmark 1972 exhibition and book of historic photographs, Executive Order 9066. The first to exclusively explore the World War II incarceration of Japanese American citizens and people of Japanese descent, the exhibition premiered at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and UC Berkeley’s University Art Museum before it traveled nationally. Our program will include individuals and descendants of those who visited the exhibition along with the curator of the Dorothea Lange collection at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). The program will be moderated by historian Charles Wollenberg.

Read More about Executive Order 9066 and Japanese American incarceration on the CHS Blog:

It Can’t Happen Here - Executive Order 9066 Revisited

Day of Remembrance: Executive Order 9066 and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II

This Day in History: California Celebrates Fred Korematsu

This Day in History - August 10: The U.S. Rights a Wrong

70 Years Ago Today: World War II Incarceration Camp at Manzanar Closes

Uncovering History through Art and Artifacts: Japanese Internment

 Presidential Proclamation No. 2537

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Highlights from CHS's Cartographic Collection

Fifty-two nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century maps of California have been added to the California Historical Society’s new Digital Library. The images represent a sampling of unique or uncommonly held titles ranging geographically from an 1863 map of the copper region of Del Norte County in the north, to a circa 1866 Topographical Map Showing the Locations of the Sutro Tunnel and the Comstock Lode, to a colorful 1913 townsite map of Date City (now called Calipatria) in Imperial County in the south. In between are city, county, mining, real property, water-supply, road, and railroad maps of various localities throughout the state. Here are six examples:

Skeleton map of the State of California. 
Map 588, California Historical Society.

1. A rare early map is Ransom Leander’s A Skeleton Map of the State of California: Exhibiting the U.S. Township and Range Lines and Boundaries of U.S. Land Districts, the County Seats and the Lines of Equal Variations of the Compass. It was compiled for the California Academy of Natural Sciences, probably in 1853. Ransom came to California in 1851 as U.S. Deputy Surveyor General for California and in that year established the Mount Diablo Base and Meridian lines (the initial points for surveying public lands in most of California and all of Nevada).

Map of the Pleasant Valley Tract at the head of the lake, Oakland [recto]. 
Map 149, California Historical Society.

2. A typical nineteenth-century real estate subdivision is depicted in the 1876 Map of the Pleasant Valley Tract at the Head of the Lake, Oakland. The map announces the auction of “splendid villa lots” at auction by Olney & Co. at the offices of H.M. Newhall & Co. It shows lot numbers with dimensions and building footprints. Henry Mayo Newhall opened his successful auction house in 1850 upon arriving in San Francisco. He later branched into railroads (President of the San Francisco and San Jose Rail Road), real estate, and ranching, purchasing several Mexican land grants in Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. Perhaps his most important acquisition was the Rancho San Francisco in the Santa Clarita Valley in northern Los Angeles County, which became known as the Newhall Ranch. His heirs incorporated the Newhall Land and Farming Company and founded the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation. The Digital Library contains maps of tracts in Los Angeles, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco.

Official map of Bodie Mining District. 
Map 490, California Historical Society.

3. Tagliabue & Garrard’s Map of Bodie Mining District, Mono Co., Cal., dating from the 1860s, shows the townsite of Bodie as well as claim boundaries, mining tunnels, and tramways and has two views of mills. The map was printed in San Francisco by Grafton T. Brown, the country’s first African American lithographer. Brown was also an important map maker and artist. The Digital Library includes several other examples of his work.

Map of Lancha Plana, Amador Co
Map 142, California Historical Society.

4. The pen-and-ink and watercolor Map of Lancha Plana, Amador Co. (1871) shows buildings, landowners, Chinatown, and a Chinese garden in this former southern mines gold rush community. The map was drawn by U.S. Deputy Surveyor Samuel Bethell. The town, on the north bank of the Mokelumne River, was founded in 1848 as Sonora Bar and eventually grew to about 1,000 inhabitants. It was later renamed after the flat-bottomed boat used to ferry people and goods across the river. Since the 1960s, the remains of Lancha Plana have been at the bottom of Camanche Reservoir.

Lines of the Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California. 
Map 627, California Historical Society.

5. The 1911 Lines of the Pacific Electric Railway in Southern California includes connecting rail and steamship lines of the Los Angeles area’s early commuter network. The “Red Car” system was the largest operator of interurban electric railway passenger service in the world, with more than 2,000 daily trains in the 1920s. It ceased operations in 1950.

Map of a portion of Los Angeles County showing the Abel Stearns' Ranchos
Map 611, California Historical Society.

6. The hand-colored Map of a Portion of Los Angeles County Showing the Abel Stearns' Ranchos was issued in 1874. It shows rivers, land ownership, settlements, railroads, and lands for sale in Orange and part of Los Angeles counties. Abel Stearns (1798–1871) became a major Southern California landowner and cattle rancher. Financial reverses caused by a severe drought forced to him to sell many of his properties.

Funding to scan and make these maps digitally available was generously provided by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation and David Rumsey. The high-resolution scanning and processing was done by Luna Imaging, Inc.

By Phil Hoehn
Phil Hoehn has a master's degree in library science from UC Berkeley and worked as a
map and earth sciences librarian for three decades at the UC Berkeley Library, the Stanford
University Libraries, and the David Rumsey Collection.

It Can’t Happen Here - Executive Order 9066 Revisited

Book Cover, Executive Order 9066 (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1972)
California Historical Society

The purpose of this exhibit would not be to point an accusing finger at those responsible; nor should the exhibit strive for a tone of scholarly or historical impassivity. Rather, the effort of the exhibition should be to strengthen a viewer’s appreciation for the precariousness of our rights and freedoms. And hopefully the viewer would come away with a deeper, more personal interest in the human rights of others.
                                     Richard Conrat, author and curator, Executive Order 9066, 1972
On the day after Pearl Harbor in 1941, Berkeley resident Charles Kikuchi expressed his concern for the Japanese Americans known as Issei, pre-1924 Japanese immigrants to the United States, also called “first generation”: “I should have confidence in the democratic procedures, but I’m worried that we might take a page from Hitler’s methods and do something drastic towards the Issei. I hope not. I don’t give a damn what happens to me, but I would be very disillusioned if the democratic process broke down.”

In fact, the democratic process—the Constitution itself—did “break down,” and nearly 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent—most of them U.S. citizens—were forcibly removed from their homes along the West Coast and sent to domestic concentration camps.

Assembly Centers and Internment Camps, 1942–46
Courtesy Japantown Atlas

December 7, 2016, was the 75th anniversary of America’s entrance into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This year many institutions, including the California Historical Society, are planning exhibitions and programs to mark the 75th anniversary of events that followed Pearl Harbor—most notably the relocation and incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent following Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.

Interior Page, Executive Order 9066 (San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1972)
California Historical Society

As a new U.S. administration prepares to assume governance, cultural institutions across the country are assessing how to address the changing—and fear-provoking—political climate, with many turning their attention to the history of civil liberties and civil rights in the United States. The imprisonment of nearly 120,000 individuals from 1942 to 1945 is often part of the conversation.

On this day in 1972 the California Historical Society launched a landmark exhibition and accompanying book, both titled Executive Order 9066, which documented these events through photographs by well-known photographers, most notably Bay Area photographer Dorothea Lange.

Dorothea Lange, Grandfather and Grandchildren Awaiting Evacuation Bus,
Hayward, California, May 8, 1942

Many of the photos are familiar to us now: California residents, tags around their necks, awaiting the buses that would take them away from their homes and communities; horse stalls turned into temporary living quarters until the camps were ready; the sign “I am an American” posted the day after Pearl Harbor by a Japanese American storeowner awaiting evacuation.

Dorothea Lange, Horse Stall Barracks at Tanforan Assembly Center, San Bruno, California, April 29, 1942
Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration

Dorothea Lange, I Am an American, Oakland, California, March 1942
Courtesy Library of Congress

But before 1972 most Americans had not seen these images and were even unfamiliar with the events they documented. Through CHS’s exhibition Executive Order 9066 the images of Japanese incarceration were widely displayed for the first time. Curated by Richard and Maisie Conrat, the show toured the country to widespread acclaim.

Consisting of duplicate exhibits, each with over 60 photographs and accompanying archival material, the show opened simultaneously on January 5, 1972, at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco and the University Art Museum in Berkeley. Culled from thousands of photographs taken for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) by Lange, Ansel Adams, Clem Albers, Charles Mace, Toyo Miyatake, and others, the exhibitions appeared at major museums across the country, including the Whitney Museum of Art in New York City, the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Exhibition Announcement, Executive Order 9066, 1972
California Historical Society

In the Bay Area, record-breaking numbers of people attended the two exhibits. At the de Young Museum, 20,000 viewed the photos within the first week, and over the course of their relatively brief runs attendance at both museums approached 220,000 visitors. The exhibits also traveled to smaller venues, reaching audiences at the University of Nebraska, Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, New Jersey, Grossmont College in El Cajon, California, the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, and at venues in Idaho, Connecticut, Arizona, Missouri, and Utah, among other states. It even traveled to three sites in Hawai‘i as well as to Japan.

A. D. Coleman, reviewing the exhibition for the New York Times wrote, “It is not a pretty picture, but it is a major document, all the more painful for its gentleness and grace.” Writing for the San Francisco Examiner, Dexter Waugh noted, “Museums generally tend to capture the past under glass, darkly and dustless, but this exhibit . . . is painfully fresh, as alive as many of the people who once lived out the war in muddy Tule Lake, bleak Manzanar in the Owens Valley, or one of the eight other relocation centers.” And Paul Allman, in the Richmond, California, Independent wrote, “I cannot urge you to see this show. I am too involved to see the show clearly. It makes me too angry and too ashamed. Maybe that is the best recommendation I can give it.”

In addition to the widely reviewed exhibition’s appeal, all 10,000 copies of its accompanying book of photographs, also titled Executive Order 9066, sold out by March 1972.

Los Angeles Times Book Review Featuring CHS’s Executive Order 9066, February 27, 1972
California Historical Society 

There were objections to the exhibition. Some in the Issei (“first generation”) community were uncomfortable with the public exposure aspect of the photos, while Richard Conrat noted that members of the Nisei (“second generation”) community “wanted me to leave well enough alone.” Others felt that the exhibition characterized the Japanese American community as too passive.

The San Francisco Examiner received negative letters, one accusing CHS of “running down our country.” In Los Angeles, following an interview with Richard Conrat, the NBC-TV affiliate received over 50 “nasty hate calls” questioning the loyalty of Japanese Americans during the war and likening them to Japanese soldiers. Host Robert Abernathy noted that “Sometimes, even when you are forewarned, you can’t help but gag at the cesspools of prejudice that bubble up from time to time into sickening view.”

Today, however, the exhibition and book are universally lauded for helping to break new ground—both within and outside of the Japanese American community, both locally and nationally. Executive Order 9066 appeared a couple of years after 1970 exhibition Pride and Shame at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) in Seattle, Washington, and during its five-year showing throughout that state and a year before the 1973 publication of Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston’s renowned memoir Farewell to Manzanar.

Farewell to Manzanar, Children’s Book Edition (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1942)
California Historical Society

As the Densho Encyclopedia, which documents Japanese American life during WWII, observed, it was “part of the changing attitudes to the Japanese American wartime experience in the early 1970s that led to the Redress Movement of the 1980s.”

Today, on the 45th anniversary of CHS’s Executive Order 9066, the exhibition and book are also seen as a vivid and graphic warning about the fragility of civil liberties. In the book’s epilogue, retired Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Tom C. Clark, who was also Civilian Coordinator for the forced relocations during the war wrote: “Let us determine to abide by the lessons that Executive Order 9066 teaches us—first, that the mere existence of a legal right is no more protection to individual liberty than the parchment upon which it is written, and second, that mutual love, respect, and understanding of one another are stronger bonds than constitutions.”

Dorothea Lange, Pledge of Allegiance at Rafael Weill Elementary School, San Francisco, a Few Weeks Prior to Evacuation,” April 20, 1942
Courtesy Library of Congress

Alison Moore
Guest writer

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager

“Executive Order 9066” (Exhibition), Densho Encyclopedia;

Maisie Conrat and Richard Conrat, Executive Order 9066: The Internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans (San Francisco: California Historical Society and Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1972). Reprinted, Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1992.


Don’t miss this CHS event commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Executive Order 9066:
Thursday, February 23, 2017, 6:00pm
Celebrating the California Historical Society’s 1972 Landmark Exhibition and Book, 
Executive Order 9066
Please join the California Historical Society as we celebrate our landmark 1972 exhibition and book of historic photographs, Executive Order 9066. The first to exclusively explore the World War II incarceration of Japanese American citizens and people of Japanese descent, the exhibition premiered at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor and UC Berkeley’s University Art Museum before it traveled nationally. Our program will include individuals and descendants of those who visited the exhibition along with the curator of the Dorothea Lange collection at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). The program will be moderated by historian Charles Wollenberg.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Celebrating 50 Years of The Doors

Today in Los Angeles is "Day of the Doors," a 50th Anniversary tribute to the legendary rock band, The Doors! The official proclamation will be made by Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin during a public event at the intersection of  Pacific and Windward Avenues, the location of the iconic “Venice” sign in Venice. 

The Doors's First Album

The day was chosen because the band's debut album was released on January 4, 1967 on Elektra Records. As the official press release notes, The Doors are quite possibly the most legendary Los Angeles band of all time and certainly one of the top California rock music groups of the 1960s. 

After the release of its first album, The Doors became quite popular in around Los Angeles music clubs. However, it wasn't until a breakout performance five months later at the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival in Marin County that the Doors began to be known throughout the State of California. The "Fantasy Fair" was actually the first outdoor rock festival in American history, predating the well-known Monterey Pop International Festival by one week. The Doors did not play Monterey, however, so it was the Fantasy Fair that helped introduce the band to the skyrocketing number of rock music fans in the Bay Area celebrating the Summer of Love.

The Doors at the KFRC "Fantasy Fair"
The California Historical Society will feature images from the Fantasy Fair in its upcoming exhibition, "On the Road to the Summer of Love," part of a statewide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Additionally, the Marin County Fair will be exploring the history of the Fantasy Fair (and the Doors performance at it) in an exhibition at the 2017 Marin County Fair

Additional Links

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Wail/Whale: The Quiet (?!) Before the Storm

Janis Joplin and Big Brother & The Holding Company perform at the New Year's Wail in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on January 1st, 1967
Malcolm Lubliner/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
On New Year's Day in 1967, The Hell's Angels and the Diggers, two of the catalytic forces in the rapidly growing counterculture community in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco threw a massive party in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park. In many ways, the party, called the New Year's Wail/Whale, was a lot like the "Love Pageant Rally" that had been held a few months earlier in October in almost the same exact spot; there was free music by Big Brother & The Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), the Grateful Dead, and many other groups using the back of a flatbed truck as a stage. Similar to the event in October, the Wail/Whale drew a couple thousand mostly young people representing a cross section of people living in the "Haight" neighborhood at the time. 

The scene at the New Year's Wail/Whale (UPI photo)
Yet, in retrospect, this event deserves special attention for its timing. Just 13 days later, the Haight (and the World) would forever be changed in the aftermath of the Human Be-In, the massive counterculture celebration in Golden Gate Park that would launch the Summer of Love. Thus, the Wail/Whale would be the last big event created nearly entirely by and for the original counterculture types that created the Haight-Ashbury movement. 

The Wail/Whale was unique for other reasons, including why it was held in the first place. The party in the Panhandle was sponsored by the Hell's Angels to thank the Haight community for raising money to bail out two of its members that had been arrested less than two weeks earlier during the Diggers' "Death of Money" parade that was held, in part, to signal the 'rebirth' of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. 

Images from the "Death of Money" parade. Photos by Gene Anthony. 
During the parade, two Hells Angels, Chocolate George and Hairy Henry, were arrested for low-level crimes: letting a passenger ride illegally on a motorcycle and interfering with an arrest. (Chocolate George would die in a fateful accident in the Haight less than a year later; his funeral was a landmark event for the Haight community).

Charles "Chocolate George" Hendricks
The New Year's Wail/Whale is also noteworthy because it helped inspire the launch of the "The Communication Company," the publishing arm of the Diggers. ComCo, as the publishing effort was called, was created by Chester Anderson and Claude Hayward; the two were captured by the creative energy and partnership between the Hell's Angels and the Diggers on display that day.  As several researchers have noted, the published writings of the Diggers---in leaflets, anonymous manifestos and single street sheets---played an important role in the Haight-Ashbury community leading up to, and during, the Summer of Love in the Spring and Summer of 1967. 

Using a mimeograph, ComCo produced a wide range of printed materials for the Haight community that was also reading the recently-launched San Francisco Oracle, a more psychedelic-oriented publication. Together, ComCo and The Oracle represented the diversity of thought and creative energy in the Haight during the period before the world rushed in....

Monday, December 12, 2016

California Vintage: Wine and Spirits in the Golden State
The Great Depression

Maxine Albro, Grape Harvesting Scene, (detail) California Agriculture, 1934
Public Works of Art Project (PWAP)

“Wine is a habit, an industry, and an art,” wrote the editors Fortune Magazine in 1934 as the Great Depression (1929–39) ravaged the country. It was a statement the public had not heard very often during the prior decade under Prohibition, but nevertheless it hinted at the industry’s possibilities.

The fresco painter Maxine Albro saw the industry’s importance to the Golden State. Her 1934 mural California Agriculture joined 26 others by Bay Area artists commissioned to adorn the walls of San Francisco’s Coit Tower—the first and largest New Deal federal recovery program for artists.

The winemaking scene in Albo’s 42-foot mural, which she based on her visit to Sonoma County’s wineries, celebrates an industry historically considered California’s most prosperous.

 “We Want Wine,” 1933

Though California had been making the majority of the country’s wine, the industry took many years to recover from Prohibition (1920–33). Obstacles included legal restrictions (wine was legal in only 26 in 1934) as well as costly repairs to reopened wineries and lack of knowledge by new winemakers. As Paul Garrett, considered the dean of American Wine Growers, wondered in 1934, “if wine were properly presented to the American people might they not accept it for what it is—a wholesome, health-giving accompaniment of good food?”

Dorothea Lange, The White Angel Bread Line, San Francisco, 1933
Courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

It was also hoped that Prohibition’s repeal in 1933 would help solve the devastating unemployment following the 1929 stock market crash. As Garrett proposed, “The development of a wine industry in this country comparable to that in France would wipe out unemployment and provide a shortage of labor able to absorb further technological unemployment for a generation to come.”

But during Prohibition, Americans had become used to drinking sweet, high-alcohol wines. The “art of wine”—and the idea of wine as a daily beverage—had yet to reemerge after Prohibition’s repeal in 1933.

Lehmann Printing and Lithographing Company Label, Baronet Apple Wine Label, 1930s
California Historical Society, Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing

Wine historian Thomas Pinney explains further:
There was some uncertainty about, and some variety in, the sorts of wine offered immediately after Repeal. It is interesting to note that some Prohibition wine was advertised—that is, wine that had been made during the Prohibition years but that could not then be sold. Perhaps most of that wine was of doubtful character, being “pricked,” or on its way to vinegar. But some was put out for sale. 
Then there were novelty wines: carbonated “champagne” was one. Around 1936 there was a flurry of interest in orange wine, an alcoholic beverage fermented from oranges and then fortified with spirits distilled from the resulting “wine.” I suppose that the attraction for the winemakers was a glut of oranges to be had cheaply, the sort of abundance in the midst of want that so often occurred in the Depression years. 
Advertisement, Puma’s Orange Wine, 1937
Collection of Thomas Pinney

Nevertheless, there was hope for the diminished wine industry. It came with the growth of industrial methodology, the establishment of the Wine Institute (1934) and the Wine Advisory Board (1938), and the California Agricultural Marketing Act of 1937, which under the agricultural umbrella of the state gave new status to winemakers as “winegrowers.”

Victor W. Geraci, University of California, Berkeley food and wine historian, explains:
For an industry just emerging from the repression of Prohibition, this agricultural status was important in relaxing a “crazy-quilt” of local, regional, and state laws restricting growing, making, and distribution of wine. Eventually, over two hundred fifty wineries and ten thousand growers (nearly 90 percent of all the state’s industry) took advantage of the 1937 California Agricultural Marketing Act that allowed agricultural specialty groups to form a Marketing Order for Wine. The wine industry now had a uniform voice.

Ruth Taylor White, Wine Map of California, 1935
Published by the Wine Advisory Board, San Francisco
Courtesy David Rumsey Map Collection;

In 1934, only about 11 million cases of wine—most of them dessert wine—were sold. The policies originated during the Depression slowly achieved results, and with the victory of California in the 1976 Paris wine tasting, the industry would never be the same.

Watch for the next blog in our series California Vintage: Wine and Spirits in the Golden State on December 19.

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager

Editors, “Can wine become an American habit?” Fortune Magazine (1934);

Victor W. Geraci, “Fermenting a Twenty-First Century California Wine Industry,” Agricultural History 78, no. 4 (Autumn 2004): 438–65

Oral history interview with Maxine Albro and Parker Hall, 1964 July 27, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution;

Thomas Pinney, City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles (Berkeley: Heyday Books/California Historical Society, forthcoming September 2017)

Wine Institute, Milestones in California Wine, 1934–2009;

Love Wine and Spirits? Don’t Miss These CHS Events!

December 10, 2016–April 16, 2017
California Historical Society, 678 Mission, San Francisco

CHS’ new exhibition, Vintage: Wine, Beer, and Spirits Labels from the Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing

December 13, 6:30 pm
California Historical Society, 678 Mission, San Francisco

The California Historical Society’s annual holiday party
Craft cocktails, legendary California wine, innovative brews, and live entertainment

Read more


Thomas Pinney’s City of Vines: A History of Wine in Los Angeles is the winner of the 2016 California Historical Society Book Award. Read more about the Award