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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

On view @ Sonoma County Museum through 1/30/11 - Bittersweet Harvest: Braceros Program

Photos by Leonard Nadel
Collection of National Museum of American History
The “Bittersweet” Struggle of the Bracero Is Revealed in a New Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

In 1943, President Roosevelt announced the creation of what would become the largest Mexican guest-worker program in U.S. history. Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942-1964, a new bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition debuting at the National Museum of American History and organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), will explore this chapter of American history. The exhibition will be on view at the museum Sept. 9 through Jan. 3, 2010, and will then travel to museums around the country on a two-year, multicity tour.

Facing labor shortages on the home front during World War II, the United States initiated a series of agreements with Mexico to recruit Mexican men to work on American farms and railroads. The Emergency Farm Labor Program, more familiarly known as the Bracero Program, enabled approximately 2 million Mexicans to enter the United States and work on short-term labor contracts.

“SITES is deeply gratified to share with the nation a central part of American labor history of which so few are aware,” said Anna Cohn, director of SITES. “The story of the bracero is rooted in hope and determination. It is a testament to the enduring contributions that Mexicans and Mexican Americans have made to American life.”

The exhibition explores the braceros’ contributions to communities in Mexico and the United States, the opportunities that became available to braceros and the challenges that they faced as guest workers during the war years and afterward. Included in the exhibition are 15 free-standing banners featuring oral histories, quotes and photographs by Leonard Nadel, a photographer who, in 1956, exposed employer violations endured by many braceros. The Nadel photos inspired the museum’s work on Bittersweet Harvest and the Bracero History Project, which also includes audio clips of former braceros relating their experiences. The firsthand accounts were collected as part of the project’s oral-history initiative.

“This exhibition allows us to explore complex issues of race, class, community and national origin while highlighting the irrefutable contributions by Mexican Americans to American society,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “‘Bittersweet Harvest’ is a unique opportunity to share an important but overlooked chapter in American history with visitors across the country.”

Two versions of Bittersweet Harvest will travel through the country through 2011. Scheduled stops include the Alameda National Center for Latino Arts and Culture in San Antonio: El Museo Latino in Omaha, Neb.; Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas; and the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas.

Accompanying the exhibition is a Web site with transcripts, audio files of all of the oral histories, photos, essays, bibliographies and teaching resources. Developed by the Center for New Media at George Mason University, the Web site features a section where braceros and their families can contribute their own stories. The Web site is located at

Bittersweet Harvest is organized by the National Museum of American History and organized for travel by SITES. Funding is made possible through the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, which celebrates Latino culture, spirit and achievement in America by facilitating the development of exhibitions, research, collections and education programs. For more information, visit

The Sonoma County Museum
425 7th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95401
(707) 579 1500

For more info on this exhibition, visit the Smithsonian website

Visit the Bracero History Archive

Smithsonian Secretary on Bittersweet Harvest

Monday, December 20, 2010

On View @ CJM - Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker

Ferdinand Bol (1616–1680),
Louise-Marie Gonzaga de Nevers? (1611–1667),
Queen of Poland, 17th century, oil on canvas.
Collection of Marei von Saher, heir of Jacques Goudstikker.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum presents an exhibition of rarely seen Old Master paintings entitled Reclaimed: Paintings from the Collection of Jacques Goudstikker. Reclaimed reveals the extraordinary legacy of Jacques Goudstikker, a preeminent art dealer in Amsterdam, whose vast collection of masterpieces fell victim, and was almost lost forever, to the Nazi practice of looting cultural properties during World War II.

In 2006, after years of working with a team of art historians and legal experts, Goudstikker’s family successfully reclaimed 200 of his paintings from the Dutch government – one of the largest claims to Nazi-looted art ever resolved. Featuring nearly 45 of the finest examples of the recovered art, along with original documents and photographs, the exhibition reveals Goudstikker’s influence as a collector, art dealer, tastemaker and impresario; and celebrates the historic restitution of the artworks to the rightful heir. Also included are original documents and photographs relating to Goudstikker’s life. The Museum will have on view an interactive touchscreen computer version of Goudstikker’s notebook, which inventoried the bulk of his gallery’s holdings at the time he fled the Netherlands. Visitors will be able to see each page of this extraordinary document while viewing images of the paintings that Goudstikker referred to in the notebook.

Jacques Goudstikker (1897-1940) was one of the most important and influential art dealers in Europe during the period between the First and Second World Wars. The Goudstikker Gallery, located in a grand house on one of Amsterdam’s prominent canals, dealt primarily in Dutch Old Masters from the Golden Age, yet also offered other Northern European and Italian paintings. Goudstikker catered to leading collectors of his day, selling paintings not only to Dutch museums (such as the Mauritshuis in The Hague, and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam), but also to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and to Andrew Mellon for the then-fledgling National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. A natural impresario, Goudstikker delighted in organizing national as well as international art fairs, festivals, and exhibitions, some of which had enduring significance for the history of art and a profound influence on collecting patterns. He was responsible for what was, at the time, the largest exhibition of Peter Paul Rubens’s art in the Netherlands, and the only show ever of the landscapes of Salomon van Ruysdael, among others.

As prominent members of society, Jacques and his wife Dési entertained lavishly in their villa outside the city and at their country estate, Nyenrode Castle on the Vecht River. Yet this luxurious and exuberant life would soon be a lost moment in time. Due to the rising threat of the Third Reich and because he was Jewish, Goudstikker was forced to flee the Netherlands with his wife and their year-old son, Eduard (nicknamed “Edo”), in May 1940 shortly after the Nazi invasion. Jacques died in a tragic accident on board ship while escaping by sea.

Left behind was Goudstikker’s collection of approximately 1,400 works of art, the bulk of which were taken to Germany after the looting of the Goudstikker Gallery by Herman Göring, Hitler’s second in command and a rapacious art collector. Göring’s henchman, Alois Miedl, ran the gallery throughout the war under the Goudstikker name, profiting from its remaining stock of artworks and respected reputation.
When World War II ended, over 200 Goudstikker paintings were located by the Allies in Germany and returned to the Netherlands with the expectation that they would be restituted to the rightful owner. Despite Dési’s efforts to recover them, the Dutch government kept the works in its national collections. Eventually, Dési and her second husband, A.E. D. von Saher, who adopted Edo, left the United States, where they had settled, to return to the Netherlands, where she died in 1996. Edo survived her by only a few months.

Edo’s widow, Marei von Saher, initiated the claims process for restitution in 1997 at a time of renewed interest in restituting Nazi-looted artworks in the Netherlands and after new information about the fate of the Goudstikker collection became available to her. The small black notebook Jacques Goudstikker had used meticulously to inventory his collection was found with him at the time of his death and later became a crucial piece of evidence in the battle to reclaim his art. Finally, after a nearly decade-long battle, the Dutch government agreed on February 6, 2006 to restitute 200 of the paintings looted by the Nazis.

Jacques Goudstikker’s inventory included Italian Renaissance works, early German and Netherlandish paintings, 17th-century Dutch Old Masters, French and Italian Rococo artworks, and 19th-century French and Northern European paintings. Although his offerings became increasingly diverse – he can be credited with expanding the Dutch art market as well as collectors’ tastes – his specialty remained Northern Baroque art.

Highlights in the exhibition include Jan Wellens de Cock’s Temptation of Saint Anthony, a splendid river landscape by Salomon van Ruysdael, a rare early marine painting by Salomon’s nephew Jacob van Ruisdael, an atmospheric Winter Landscape with Skaters by Jan van Goyen, and Jan van der Heyden’s View of Nyenrode Castle on the Vecht – the country estate that Goudstikker himself owned and opened to the public each summer in the 1930s. Also on view are excellent still life paintings and portraits such as Hieronymus Galle’s Still Life with Flowers in a Vase and Ferdinand Bol’s Louise-Marie Gonzaga de Nevers.

In addition to viewing fine paintings, museum visitors will be offered an opportunity to reflect on the inequities of war, the looting of cultural property during the Holocaust, and ongoing efforts to recover artworks stolen during World War II. “This is a rare chance to tell the extraordinary story of restitution,” says Connie Wolf, Executive Director of the Contemporary Jewish Museum. “It’s a poignant story that resonates today as looting of artworks continues in conflicts around the world. We are thrilled to have these remarkable masterpieces on view for Bay Area audiences to see and experience.”

General Information

The CJM is open daily (except Wednesday) 11 AM – 5 PM and Thursday, 1 – 8 PM.
For more info please visit or call 415.655.7800.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum
736 Mission Street (between 3rd & 4th streets)
San Francisco.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Historic Libations Tonight @ 6! Tickets will be sold at the door!

Come celebrate the season with the California Historical Society!
Friday December 17, 2010
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Tickets are available at:
CHS Members $40
Non-members $50

Come celebrate the season with the California Historical Society. 

Historic Libations features legendary cocktails from across the state, including favorites such as the Boothby whiskey punch, the Revolver, Moscow Mule and the Martinez. La Melodita will provide live tango, gypsy jazz, blues entertainment at 7:30 p.m. Learn a little about the history of mixed drinks, and indulge in notable concoctions, as members of the United States Bartenders Guild craft cocktails. All attendees will receive their very own copy of the Anchor Distilling Co. edition of Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender.

Event Sponsors include: Apertifs Bar Management, Anchor Distilling, Elixir Saloon, United States Bartenders Guild and The Sentinel.  For more information, or to purchase tickets by phone please call 415-357-1848 x 229. or email

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Friday, December 10, 2010

Upcoming Events at The San Mateo County History Museum

January 22, Saturday at 1 pm
The Architectural History of Suburbia at the San Mateo County History Museum
Association members; $3 - $5 general admission.

Architect and historian Alan Hess presents The Architectural History of Suburbia. The San Francisco Peninsula, including San Mateo County, played a large role in the development of modern suburbia; for example, the ranch house. Mr. Hess documents the emerging suburban metropolises of the West. Free to

Saturday, January 8th at 11 am
Story Time at the History Museum for Children - Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails

Admission: $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students with ID.
FREE for children 5 and under; Members are always free.

Come listen to a story about a pioneer family’s journey on a wagon train headed to California. Hear the story Covered Wagons, Bumpy Trails and make your own covered wagon to take home. Then, tour the museum’s Journey to Work exhibit to learn about early forms of transportation in San Mateo County.


A Centennial Celebration - 100th Anniversary of the 1910 Courthouse
Visit for more details
San Mateo County History Museum
2200 Broadway

Redwood City, 94063

Thursday, December 9, 2010

In Memoriam: Marian Gibbons - Founder of Hollywood Heritage Museum

Marian Dean Newman Gibbons
(1921 - 2010)

Hollywood Heritage Founder, preservationist, actress, singer and author Marian Gibbons passed away December 8, 2010 from lung cancer. Whether you knew her as "Marian," "Mrs. Gibbons," "Mage" or "Majemahanna" (her mother's nickname for her) Marian was and is an unforgettable Hollywood person.

She was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and lived in Wisconsin and Arizona. A brief stay in Hollywood in 1949 convinced her that this was the town she wanted to live in, but her husband Jim's business took them back to the Midwest. Marian vowed if she ever had the chance to come back, she would. That chance came in the late 1970's and Marian came to Los Angeles and worked as a publicist with her daughter, Jane, an anchor for KNBC. The 1970's appearance of the town she had worked so hard to return to inspired her with Christy Johnson McAvoy, Frances Offenhauser McKeal, Mildred Heredeen and Susan Peterson St. Francis to start Hollywood Heritage, Inc. Through the inspiration and hard work of these founders, Hollywood Heritage became the success story it is today.

A memorial is planned and we will post that information as soon as it is available. She will be interred at Hollywood Forever in Hollywood.

Janet L. Hoffmann
Blondie House
WBSF Ranch Operations
411 North Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505
818-977-2750 FAX

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Eadweard Muybridge in California

Featured slideshow images are available for viewing in the North Baker Research Library
at the California Historical Society.  For rights and reproduction information please click here.

Born Edward James Muggeridge in Kingston upon Thames in southwest London, Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) immigrated to New York in the early 1850s and worked as a sales agent for the London Printing and Publishing Company. He moved to San Francisco in 1855 to open a branch office, and here his name began evolving, first into Muygridge and finally to Muybridge in 1865. Following a severe head injury from a stage coach crash in northern Texas in 1860 that caused him to see double images, he returned to London for recuperation and it is thought that his experiments with photography began at this time. At the International Exhibition of 1862, in which the Photographic Society of London participated, Muybridge would have seen works by many other photographers and the emerging association between art and science that would later influence his work. Upon returning to San Francisco in 1866 or1867 he immediately began working as a photographer, signing his works as Helios, and established his business as Helios Flying Studio.

Among his subject matter, Muybridge photographed the development of the Central Pacific Railroad, and accepted government commissions for documenting lighthouses on the Pacific coast and various government buildings in San Francisco. His landscape and terrain images include Alaska and Central America, Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and he was in northeastern California documenting Tule Lake for the US Army when the Modoc Wars erupted in 1873. After meeting Governor Stanford in 1877, Muybridge photographed Stanford’s horses while in motion. He would continue to develop his Animal Locomotion series and, in 1887, convinced the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D. C. to purchase a full portfolio of eleven volumes of all the Locomotion images. When Muybridge retired in 1894 to Kingston upon Thames, he continued to promote and publish his motion studies and books with an emphasis on the connection of his work to the birth of the new visual media―cinema—which began to flourish at his death.

In June 2009, CHS was invited by the Corcoran to lend fifteen works by Muybridge plus an additional photo album from its permanent collections for the exhibition, Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change. Organized by the Corcoran’s chief curator, Philip Brookman, this first major retrospective of over 300 items from thirty-six lenders examines Muybridge’s career and extensive pioneering work in areas such as The Geology of Time: Yosemite and the High Sierra; War, Murder, and the Production of Coffee: the Modoc Wars and the Development of Central America; Motion Pictures: the Zoopraxiscope; and Animal Locomotion.

CHS’ stereo card with the classic image of Contemplation Rock, Glacier Point, 1872, was chosen as one of two images selected to illustrate Muybridge’s work in the Washington Post review of the exhibition, on view this last spring and early summer at the Corcoran Gallery. Three small works from CHS’ group were shipped to the exhibition’s second venue at the Tate Gallery in London and are currently on view there to January 16, 2011. The Helios exhibition will travel to its last venue, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and open in late February for fourteen weeks of viewing. We hope you will visit Helios at SFMOMA, and visit CHS where more works by Muybridge from our permanent collection will also be on view during that time. More works by Muybridge are available for viewing in our North Baker Research Library, where we welcome visitors from around the world.

~ Cheryl Maslin, CHS Registrar/Collections Manager
    California Historical Society

Biographical source: Brookman, Philip. Helios: Eadweard Muybridge in a Time of Change.
Corcoran Gallery of Art and Steidl Publishers, 2010.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Historic Mexican era Adobe to be Demolished

The 1844 Peninsula foothills home of Juana Briones, a pioneering rancher, businesswoman and herbalist, may soon be demolished, with the permission of a state appeals court.
Juana Briones c. 1870

Owners of a tract in Palo Alto that includes the vacant, earthquake-damaged adobe residence - one of the oldest homes in California - won an important legal round last week when the Sixth District Court of Appeal denied a rehearing to preservationists who challenged a demolition permit the City Council approved in 2007.

A Santa Clara County judge had ruled in favor of the Friends of the Juana Briones House in 2008, saying the city should have conducted an environmental review that included consideration of alternatives to razing the home.

But the appeals court said a demolition permit, under the Palo Alto ordinance, is an administrative act with clear-cut standards, rather than a subjective decision that requires an environmental study. When a city authorizes demolition based on objective criteria, the court said, state law provides no special protection for historic structures. The court issued the ruling last month and elevated it last week to a precedent for future cases. Unless the state Supreme Court intervenes, the home could be torn down in the spring.

Endangered listing

Among those lamenting the decision was Elaine Stiles, Western program officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a nonprofit that works with local groups to protect historic sites. This year, the trust listed the Briones home among the nation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Briones was "a widely known and revered woman in early California history," Stiles said. "There are not a lot of significant features of landscape left from that early settlement period in California."

Juana Briones House, Palo Alto's oldest house.
Photo: Paul Sakuma / AP

Gregory Klingsporn, lawyer for the couple who bought the 1.5-acre tract in 1997, said they initially proposed to restore the Briones house while demolishing the surrounding wings, which date from the early 1900s, and building a modern home elsewhere on the site. The couple, Jaim Nulman and Avelyn Welczer, applied for a demolition permit in 1998 only after the city rejected their first proposal, Klingsporn said.
Palo Alto declared the home a historic landmark in 1987. The state designated the site as a landmark in 1954. Briones' Bay Area roots extend beyond Palo Alto. She and her two sisters came to live at the Presidio in the 1810s, and Briones and her husband were the first recorded residents of the El Polin Spring area of the Spanish military outpost. Briones later lived near what is now Washington Square Park in San Francisco before buying a 4,400-acre rancho on the Peninsula in the 1840s, a land purchase that itself was historic.

Property fight

According to a researcher quoted by the preservationists' lawyers, Briones, after being granted a legal separation from an abusive husband, was allowed by Mexican law to buy property independently of her husband. But after statehood in 1850, Briones - uneducated and illiterate - had to fight for more than 20 years in U.S. tribunals before validating her title to the land. She was famed as a healer and operated a hospital in her Palo Alto home, said Jeanne Farr McDonnell, executive director of the Women's Heritage Museum in San Francisco and author of a 2008 biography of Briones. "People from all over looked for her and sought out her skill," said McDonnell, a member of the group trying to preserve the house. She said Briones, taught by Native Americans and others familiar with local herbs, went to Bolinas to treat victims of a smallpox epidemic and trained her nephew, who practiced medicine there for the next half-century.

Briones died in 1889. Her daughter sold the home in 1900, and succeeding owners made renovations. Despite suffering damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the building remained open for docent-led tours until new owners in 1993 cut off access, McDonnell said. After those owners made further renovations without a permit, the city's building inspector declared the structure dangerous in 1996 and ordered the old adobe section vacated, the appeals court said.

New owners

Nulman and Welczer bought the property a year later and sought permission to restore the old home while tearing down the wings. City officials argued that a contract giving the owners a property tax break, in exchange for maintaining the historic building, required restoration of the entire structure. But the city lost a seven-year court battle in 2006 and approved the demolition permit for the building in 2007.

The preservation group went to court the next day, arguing that the city had sidestepped requirements of its own permit process, including review by a municipal historic resources board. Such subjective policy decisions, the group said, triggered a state law that mandates an environmental study and consideration of alternatives. The appeals court disagreed, saying the rules for razing residential properties in the city are simple: The residence must be vacant, and any tenants must be notified. The historic board had the power to delay demolition but not to prevent it, the court said. Lawyers for the preservationists say the owners allowed removal of artifacts from the home but barred archaeologists who wanted to examine the adobe structure.
Klingsporn, the owners' lawyer, said he doesn't know whether they still plan to build on the land or sell it, but they have waited long enough to exercise their rights under the demolition permit.

"They bought the property to build a family home that their kids could grow up in," he said. Since then, he said, "their kids have grown up."  For more info visit Juana Briones Heritage.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Ronnie Goodman: The Color of Hope @ Precita Eyes 12-4-10

Ronnie Goodman: The Color of Hope
Linocuts, Drawings, & Paintings from San Quentin and Folsom State Prisons
December, 4 – 30, 2010
Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center

Ronnie Goodman has created a large body of artwork while doing time at San Quentin and Folsom State Prisons. It has only been a month since his release. Precita Eyes on 24th Street in San Francisco is exhibiting Goodman’s paintings, drawings and linocut prints throughout the month of December. Goodman will be present at Precita Eyes for an opening on Saturday, December 4th, from 7:00 - 11:00 pm.

For most artists in prison the tendency is to create work about life on the outside. But Ronnie Goodman is an exception to this. His work is about life in prison. Sometimes his work is about the beauty that an artistic eye can find in the day to day. Sometimes his work is about the struggles of life in a cage.

Even while in prison Ronnie Goodman was eager to reach out to his community of San Francisco. He remained in touch with Precita Eyes and the San Francisco Bay View newspaper. He also created artwork used by the Coalition on Homelessness and the Western Regional Advocacy Project.

Goodman made his artwork as part of the Arts in Corrections program, which was defunded by the State budget last February. He studied with Katya McCulloch’s linocut class and Patrick Maloney’s painting and drawing class at San Quentin in a program overseen by Steve Emrick. He studied with Bill Peterson at Folsom State Prison.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts & Visitors Center
2981 24th street
San Francisco CA, 94110

Hours: Mon - Fri 10 am - 5 pm
Sat 10 am - 4 pm
Sun 12 pm - 4 pm

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day of Inclusion @ California State Railroad Museum 12-6-10, 4:30 p.m.

In contrast to statehouses from Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, and across the United States, California has taken an inclusive stand on immigration with ACR 76 which was chaptered into California law in 2009. ACR 76 calls for all Californians to acknowledge December 17th as a Day of Inclusion in recognition and appreciation of the priceless contributions of all immigrants to the greatness of the United States and especially California.

On December 6th, California Assemblymember Mike Eng (Los Angeles), California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, many statewide elected officials and over 45 civic rights organizations from thoroughout California will be gathering at the California State Railroad Museum for a "Day of Inclusion."

Among the speakers, Basim Elkarra, Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations Sacramento Valley Chapter will speak on the Islamphobic year in review and the aspirations of the local Muslim community. Barry Broad, Chair, Jewish Community Relations Council will be calling on all Californians to fight back the fear that led to the defamation of NBA star Omar Caspi and the attacks on local synagogues by educating our society on anti-Semitism. Arturo Venegas Jr., former chief of the Sacramento Police Department and project director of the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative will shed light on the scapegoating of the Latino community and law enforcement issues rising from recent immigration policies. Sacramento NAACP President, Betty Williams and Florin JACL President, Marielle Tsukamoto will also be on hand to say a few words.

This one of two statewide Day of Inclusion events being held this year in response to recent legislation that promotes inclusion and the appreciation of California's immigrant heritage by calling for all Californians to embrace our shared differences but common goals.

"A Day of Inclusion may serve us well. Any American who has been singled out, interned or excluded has an investment in the immigration debate; it was through the struggle of expatriates in the land of indigenous Americans that the United States came to be." says Cristina Mora, a California Latina activist who resides in Elk Grove, California.

CA State Railroad Museum
125 "I" Street (corner of Second and "I" Streets in Old Sacramento)
Sacramento, CA 95814

More information can be found at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tribute to Will Rogers @ Hollywood Heritage Museum 12-8-10

Hollywood Heritage's popular Evenings @ The Barn series will offer “A Tribute to Will Rogers” on Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 7:30 PM at The Lasky-DeMille Barn, the birthplace of Paramount Pictures.   General admission is $10, $5 for Hollywood Heritage members and free parking is available. Will Rogers(November 4, 1879 – August 15, 1935) was one of the best-known celebrities in the 1920's and 1930's. The tribute to the cowboy humorist, who starred in the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway, wrote a nationally syndicated newspaper column and became Hollywood's biggest box-office star will commemorate Rogers’ passing with an evening of film clips and recollections.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has graciously allowed the museum to host the first public screening of several documentaries that were produced expressly for their popular Will Rogers DVD Collection. The first is entitled “Back to the Ranch” and features personal interviews with Rogers’ family members at the re-dedication of the Will Rogers Ranch in Pacific Palisades. The second, “Jane Withers Remembers…” features heartfelt stories from the beloved child star who was befriended by Rogers when they were both making films at Fox Studios. In addition, Hollywood Heritage board-member and film historian Stan Taffel will offer rarely seen Rogers movie clips from his personal film collection. A raffle for gift baskets filled with unusual Will Rogers’ related memorabilia will also be held.

The Hollywood Heritage Museum is located at
2100 North Highland Avenue across from the Hollywood Bowl.
For more information please visit their website:

Exhibition - The Violent Lens: Photo Postcards of the Mexican Revolution

In honor of the one hundredth anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, Piñata Art Studio presents a photo postcard exhibit of rare images from the Mexican Revolution.  A lecture by Professor Alejandro Murguía of San Francisco State University will complement the exhibit, detail the history of the photo postcards of the Mexican Revolution as well as reveal the photographer (up to now unknown) of the famous image of Emiliano Zapata.  Mexican delicacies will be served during the opening reception.  Sponsored by Piñata Art Studio, Raza-Faculty-Staff Association of SFSU and La Quinta Brigada Cultural.

Exhibit runs from Nov 12, 2010 to Nov. 29 2010
Lecture by Professor Alejandro Murguía at 8 pm.
Free/Gratis. Everyone is welcome.

Piñata Art Studio
4268 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94112

(415) 333-8001

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Alameda Naval Air Museum Commemorates 75th Anniversary of the first transpacific flight

China Clipper, Hawaii. 1935
Collection of UCR/Calfornia Museum of Photography

Living History Event to Recall “China Clipper” Departure From Alameda, CA on Historic Flight to Manila, PI.

On November 22, 1935, over 25,000 spectators lined the shore of Pan American
Airways’ (PAA) base at Alameda, CA, to watch as the China Clipper eased away
from its mooring to begin the dangerous transpacific flight. The engines of the silver Martin M-130 flying boat roared as her pilot, renowned PAA aviator Capt. Edwin Musick, coaxed the heavy aircraft up from San Francisco Bay bound for Manila, via Honolulu, Midway, Wake Island, and Guam. The inaugural 8,200-mile journey, delivering U.S. Air Mail run, including personal letters to the president of the Philippines from Franklin D. Roosevelt, was completed some 59 hours after passing over the Golden Gate. The world listened intently to international radio broadcasts that covered every detail of the dangerous flight as it made its way across the Pacific Ocean.

On Sunday, November 21, 2010, the Alameda Naval Air Museum will commemorate the inaugural flight of China Clipper with a living history reenactment of the actual 1935 event. Featuring a simulated radio broadcast, complete with live re-enactors portraying the actual participants and dignitaries, plus vintage vehicles, military fly-by, and more, the public will have a rare opportunity to turn back the clock and participate in what was a significant event in world and aviation history. Attendees of all ages are invited to dress in 1930’s period attire. The museum will also open its new China Clipper exhibit to the public as part of the event.

Commemorative events will begin at 1:00 pm. to 3:00 pm. Admission is $5.00 and
parking is free. Food and beverages will be available.

Alameda Naval Air Museum, located at 2151Ferry Point Rd., Building 77, Alameda
CA, is registered with the State of California as a non-profit 501(c) (3)
organization. The all-volunteer museum has been in operation since 2004.


If you’d like more information about this topic or the event, please call Kin Robles
at 925/759-2090 or e-mail Kin at or visit our website at

Monday, November 15, 2010

12-7-10 Members Event: Book Talk with John Boessenecker author of Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez

Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
CHS and Westerners International Members Only Book Talk, RSVP Required

Bandido: The Life and Times of Tiburcio Vasquez By John Boessenecker

Join us as author John Boessenecker leads a special book talk for members of Westerners International and the California Historical Society. Tiburcio Vasquez is, next to Joaquin Murrieta, America’s most infamous Hispanic bandit. After he was hanged as a murderer in 1875, the Chicago Tribune called him “the most noted desperado of modern times.” Bandido pulls back the curtain on a life story shrouded in myth—a myth created by Vasquez himself and abetted by writers who saw a tale ripe for embellishment.

Tiburcio Vasquez is, next to Joaquin Murrieta, America’s most infamous Hispanic bandit. After he was hanged as a murderer in 1875, the Chicago Tribune called him “the most noted desperado of modern times.” Bandido pulls back the curtain on a life story shrouded in myth—a myth created by Vasquez himself and abetted by writers who saw a tale ripe for embellishment.

This event is in collaboration with Westerners International and is for members of the California Historical Society.  For more information on becoming a member of CHS Click Here.

California Historical Society
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next History Walkabout with Gary Holloway: Parnassus Heights Tour and Tea

Parnassus Heights Tour and Tea (San Francisco) History Walkabout with Gary Holloway

Sunday Dec. 12th from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Walk begins at 11:30 a.m. each day, followed by tea service at 1:30 p.m.)

Named for the 8,000 ft. high peak in southern Greece, sacred Apollo and the Muses, this is the home of University of California’s first school of Medicine, Dentistry, and Psychiatry, and the second campus of the UC system. Employing thousands of people in the medical arts, this campus on the slopes of Mt. Sutro is a landmark of the City. On this walk, which will end with our holiday tea, we’ll head up the slope to the Heights via a swift lift, and walkabout the public areas of the campus, seeing a great statue of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. Following this, we’ll thread our way downhill through the Inner Sunset neighborhood to find our sumptuous Holiday Tea awaiting us at one of our favorite places, the Secret Garden Tea House, located on Lincoln Way, between 8th and 9th Avenues. Our Holiday repast will consist of various balck and herbal teas, plus fresh baked scones, savories, festive sandwiches and Christmas cider or egg nog! Walk is easy.
Prices: $75 for CHS members $ 95 for non-members

For more information, or to reserve your spot please contact 415-357-1848 x 229 or email

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Snoopy License Plate: Help CA Museums!

We’re excited to announce that the California Association of Museums has over 7,000 folks signed up on and who can help make the Snoopy license plate a reality. We need as many Snoopy lovers as possible to raise their hands so we can establish a special license plate to support our state's great museums. When the Snooopy plate is produced, proceeds will go towards supporting museums in California communities.

Stay tuned! We hope to announce the pre-purchase period soon. We will then collect a $50 fee from anyone who wants to get their own Snoopy plate - or a bit more if you would like it personalized. When we reach the magic number of 7,500 folks who have completed an application and paid the fee, the plates will go into production, and voilà, Snoopy is ours.

When the plate is produced, proceeds will go towards supporting museums in California communities, and you’ll get the chance to show off your devotion to your favorite beagle. We continue to call on YOU to spread the word and help us reach this goal. Don't be shy! Please tell your friends, family members, co-workers, and any other Snoopy lovers about this campaign.

Ask everyone to sign up TODAY at! With your help, we can make the official California Snoopy license plate and support museums.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Last California Nights of 2010! 11/10/10 @ CHS Free!

The California Historical Society invites you to an open house event to celebrate all things California! Connect, learn, and discuss the future of this great Golden State, while listening to music with a live DJ and enjoying complimentary refreshments. November’s California Nights will have a 1970’s theme and feature funk, soul and disco music classics. Wear your bell-bottoms and join us for a funkadelic event!

Can you dig it?

This event takes place at the CHS Museum and complements the current exhibition, Think California –exploring the colorful history of California through the Historical Society’s remarkable collection of artwork, artifacts, and ephemera; themes include the Gold Rush, California’s car culture, the entertainment industry, tourism, nature, natural disasters, and agriculture.

678 Mission Street, San Francisco CA

Monday, November 1, 2010

Litquake presents: Mark Twain Ball - November 4, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010
Green Room 401 Van Ness Ave., 7 pm,
Tickets are $20
Click here to buy in advance or at the door.

On Thursday, November 4th our friends at Litquake, the Bancroft Library and UC Press present the first Bay Area launch of the Mark Twain Ball in celebration of the publication of his brand-new autobiography. This event will be the first and only Bay Area launch of this long-awaited book, held in the city that helped birth the career of America’s best-loved humorist.

Forbidden to be published until 100 years after his death, this new deluxe edition of Twain’s Autobiography (Volume 1 of 3) is at last presented according to the author’s specific instructions. Some highlights: President Theodore Roosevelt is described as “one of the most impulsive men in existence.”…the American soldiers Roosevelt sent to the Philippines are referred to as “uniformed assassins”…even Twain’s Italian landlady is called “excitable, malicious, malignant, vengeful, unforgiving, selfish, stingy, avaricious, coarse, vulgar, profane, and obscene.” This new edition is already on bestseller lists, in advance of its November 15 publication date.

Come to the Mark Twain Ball and see what CBS, CNN, New York Times, Guardian, and the Independent are all raving about. Event features Twain video and slideshow, period music and special cocktails, Twain-themed snacks, and select readings from the Autobiography by actors from A.C.T.! Costumes and mustaches encouraged. Twain books and t-shirts will be for sale.

Twain Tweet Contest!

Presenting a Mark Twain Write-Alike Contest with a Twitter twist! Contest rules are simple -- just write your best Twain imitation, either fiction or nonfiction, in the form of a tweet, i.e. 140 characters or less. Post your entry on Twitter, using the hashtag #twainquake. The winners will be chosen by random drawing, notified via Twitter, and posted at Litquake's Facebook and home pages. First prize -- a copy of the brand-new Autobiography of Mark Twain! Second, third, and fourth place contestants will each receive another Twain book published by UC Press (at their discretion). Contest ends at midnight, November 3 PST. The best Twain Tweets will be read aloud at the Mark Twain Ball on November 4 in San Francisco!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

New Deal Art:1935-1943 now on view at the Bedford Gallery



The Bedford Gallery brings history to life with its new exhibition, The American Scene: New Deal Art 1935-1943, opening on October 3. An opening reception will be held on October 5 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and will be free and open to the public. This compelling and timeless exhibit celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Federal Art Project (FAP) in California— programs that put thousands to work at the height of the Great Depression. The Bedford Gallery is the only art space in Northern California to hold a full exhibit around this historic milestone.

The Bedford Gallery selected artworks from several WPA repositories including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Most of these works have been in storage and unseen by our community since the 1940s.
The American Scene features a selection of prints by American documentary photographer Dorothea Lange (1895–1965). Lange's photographs humanized the tragic consequences of the Great Depression and profoundly influenced the development of documentary photography. The exhibition also includes well known WPA artists Ben Shahn, Beniamino Bufano, Mine Okubo, Diego Rivera, Emmy Lou Packard, Bernard Zakheim and Reuben Kadish.

Created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the WPA was the largest New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects. Under the program, artists working for the FAP created more than 200,000 works, including posters, murals, and paintings.

The American Scene: New Deal Art 1935-1943 was organized by Bedford Gallery curator Carrie Lederer in collaboration with Harvey Smith, project advisor to California’s Living New Deal Project and board president of the National New Deal Preservation Association. Lederer and Smith have brought together works by more than 65 artists who worked for the FAP. Visitors to the gallery will see works by men and women from a diversity of backgrounds—Japanese-American, African-American, Russian-American, and Mexican-American. Each played a role in bringing the arts to those suffering tremendous economic setbacks, many of whom had never before been able to afford a cultural experience.

Curator Carrie Lederer states, “During Roosevelt’s presidency, America was grappling with an economic situation that feels all too familiar today. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, Roosevelt’s administration understood how essential art was to sustaining America’s spirit. The FAP not only employed struggling artists but also provided them with a sense of pride in serving their country.”

The American Scene includes paintings, drawings, posters, and photographs from the private collections of Alan Selsor, George Krevsky and M. Lee Stone Fine Prints, Inc. Oakland resident Adria Peterson is lending artworks from the estate of her grandfather, New York WPA artist Domenico Mortellito. The estate of Santa Fe sculptor Milton Hebald contributed several bronze and wood sculptures. A sculpture by Benny Bufano comes from the collection of Beth Danysh, widow of Joe Danysh, who headed the FAP in the West, and William Maynez has lent a Diego Rivera portrait from the Diego Rivera Archive at City College San Francisco.

Telephone: 925/295-1417


Admission: General $5; Youth (17 and under) $3; Children 12 and under, free; First Tuesdays free; Free for Friends of the Bedford, members of Diablo Regional Arts Association and ticket holders to events in the Lesher Center for the Arts (LCA) on ticketed date. First Tuesday of each month is free.

Hours: Tuesday—Sunday, Noon to 5:00 p.m. and evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. when there are productions in the LCA ( for calendar). The Gallery is closed on Mondays.

BEDFORD gallery    1601 civic drive    walnut creek, ca 94596

Saturday, October 30, 2010

11/3/10 Book talk with Jeanne Reesman and Sue Hodson - Jack London, Photographer

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Book talk with Jeanne Reesman and Sue Hodson - Jack London, Photographer

California Historical Society, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Free

Jack London (1876–1916) remains one of the most widely read American writers, known for his naturalist fiction, socialist novels and essays, journalism, and the many adventures that he shared with the world. London was also an accomplished photographer, producing nearly twelve thousand photographs during his lifetime. Jack London, Photographer, the first book devoted to London’s photography, reveals a vital dimension of his artistry, barely known until now.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Zakheim: The Art of Prophetic Justice at the Jazz Heritage Center

Bernard Baruch Zakheim, Untitled 1931

Lehrhaus Judaica Presents : Zakheim: The Art of Prophetic Justice at the Jazz Heritage Center

BERKELEY – Lehrhaus Judaica will present Zakheim: The Art of Prophetic Justice at the Jazz Heritage Center in San Francisco this fall. A photographic history of Bernard Zakheim's life and work will be showcased in the Koret Heritage Lobby from October 17-December 30, and approximately 25 original Zakheim paintings will be displayed in the Lush Life Gallery from October 17-November 30.

The exhibition is made possible by a lead grant from the Koret Foundation, the Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation, Fred Levin & Nancy Livingston, The Shenson Foundation, and The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, collaborated on the exhibition.

The Zakheim exhibition is a follow-up to the highly successful Jews of the Fillmore exhibit presented by Lehrhaus Judaica and the Magnes Museum in the fall of 2009. Zakheim lived and taught in the Fillmore District, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the 1920s and 1930s, during the interwar period before moving to Sebastopol where he set up his studio in an apple orchard. Rosenbaum's recently published cultural and social history of Bay Area Jewry, Cosmopolitans (UC Press, 2009), includes a five-page section on Zakheim in the context of his times.

Although he is little known today, Bernard Baruch Zakheim (1896-1985) was one of the leading artists in California in the middle decades of the 20th century. Born and raised in a Hasidic family in Warsaw, Poland, he immigrated to San Francisco in 1921 and except for lengthy periods of study in Paris and Mexico City, he resided in the Bay Area until his death.

"My father's work speaks to humanity; it speaks of humanity," said Nathan Zakheim. "As a diarist, he recorded the Holocaust in vivid paintings from afar. He recorded the horror of man's inhumanity to man, but then, from the depths of personal pain, the pain of losing his whole extended family in the Warsaw Ghetto, he emerged with lush green grasses, and scorched dead trees blooming with fresh red flowers. From those dark days onward, his art brimmed over with golden waves of the resurgence of life, of darkness giving way to light. In today's troubled world, his work has taken on a new light."
Reproductions of Zakheim's main works may be viewed at

Zakheim, a protégé of Diego Rivera, won fame primarily as a muralist. His Jewish Wedding, commissioned for the new San Francisco Jewish Community Center in 1933 (and removed, restored, and reinstalled when that institution demolished its building and erected a new facility in 2004) is considered one of the most notable works of art in any Jewish building on the West Coast.

In 1934, he oversaw the entire Coit Tower mural program, the largest publicly funded art program in the country, and his own work, Library, ignited much controversy because it starkly reflected the class conflict during the Depression. At the end of the 1930s, he painted the monumental 12-panel fresco, The Story of California Medicine, which hangs in the amphitheater of Toland Hall on the campus of the UCSF Medical Center.

In addition, Zakheim produced a large oeuvre of watercolors, oils, other works on paper, and sculpture. He was one of the first American artists to depict the Holocaust, and his huge wooden sculpture Genocide (initially displayed at the Magnes Museum and since 1969 in Mount Sinai Memorial Park in Los Angeles) was among the earliest Shoah monuments in the United States. He traveled to Israel in 1970 and portrayed the achievements of Zionism. He also painted a series of vivid scenes showing the Jewish contribution to the American Revolution.

In the 1930s, Zakheim was one of the foremost Jewish artists in the country," said Rosenbaum, the 2010 Cowan Award recipient. "He was also among the most controversial. The Jewish symbols of his youth in Warsaw, the narrative fresco techniques he studied in Mexico City, and the postimpressionism he absorbed in Paris, all served his artistic plea for human dignity. "

Other than the murals, the majority of Zakheim's work is in the possession of his son, Nathan Zakheim of Los Angeles. The family also has an invaluable photo collection dating from the artist's birth to his death at the age of 89, as well as an extensive archive of his personal correspondence and other papers. The Zakheim family and its exclusive representative for Bernard Zakheim's art, Albert Neiman, have pledged full cooperation for this project.

In addition to the public opening lecture by Rosenbaum, there will be additional Zakheim presentations in San Francisco. Contemporary art specialist Susanne Strimling will speak about Zakheim on Sunday, November 14, at 11 a.m. at the Jazz Heritage Center.

For more information, please visit or
Seating is limited, so please register early HERE

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Local History Mapped has just been launched on Calisphere!

Click to see larger Images

Local History Mapped consists of five maps of California with approximately 350 images from Calisphere plotted on the locations they depict. Users can browse the maps to find images, explore their neighborhoods, and learn about local history. Each map is on a different theme—civic buildings, disasters, transportation, city scenes, and everyday life—and includes a short essay with selected images and a “teachers’ toolbox” with ideas and activities for K-12 educators.  The California Historical Society has contributed to this project with several period photographs.  The maps will be accessible from the Calisphere homepage.

From Calisphere:

Local History Mapped: How We Mapped the Images

As we selected images for this feature, we tried to ensure representation of a variety of regions and communities. Even if their precise locations could not be determined, we decided that some images were worth including because they are visually rich and document what was happening in a defined area at a specific time in history. For all of the images in this collection, we have identified and mapped their locations to at least the city level.

Finding the Geo-coordinates

Pinpointing the geo-coordinates of each image in Calisphere’s Local History Mapped took some historical detective work. We followed five steps to find the address or cross-streets for each image:

1. We mapped the image to any location information contained in its description. For instance, the titles of some photographs contain the addresses of buildings pictured.

2. If there was not enough information in the description, then we looked for any landmarks and features in the image that could help identify its location.

3. We compared whatever information we could find there with information on trusted websites, like those of local historical societies.

4. We also searched the Internet for contextual information that would help define the location (for instance, looking up a modern-day stretch of historical Route 66).

5. Finally, in some cases, we submitted a reference request to the institution that contributed the image. Staff at these repositories applied their knowledge of local and regional history to help us map the images.

If you have additional information about an image that will help us more accurately map it, please let us know at

What “Location on map is approximate” Means

When you see the statement “Location on map is approximate,” it means that we were not able to identify its exact geo-coordinates (address or cross-streets). We plotted these images to the most specific known level of detail, such as “the waterfront” or “the north side of town.” There are several reasons why we might not have been able to find the exact address for every image:

1. Something changed: Sometimes, the physical environment had been altered since the photograph was taken. For example, we could not map some structures destroyed in the 1906 earthquake because the street patterns of some of the affected towns were changed in their rebuilding. And as a result of California’s rapid population growth in the mid- to late 20th century, areas of farmland were transformed to strip malls and housing developments. Urbanization also brought re-zoning and new ways of organizing and naming the landscape.

2. Not enough information: Other times, we found photographic evidence of people and places but did not have the metadata (location, date, and other information about the image) necessary to support exact mapping. Some family photographs that help us understand the diverse individuals living in California throughout its history did not include specific enough information about where the photograph was taken.

3. No information: Finally, and perhaps most frequently, we do not know much about an image because its creator or collector did not record its details. Libraries, archives, and museums work hard to identify all the facts about the articles they collect, but sometimes these details are simply lost to history.

All of the maps are available from the Calisphere homepage; you’ll notice a new space highlighting this in the “Collections for Educators” section. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can view a map at random with the URL:

Monday, October 18, 2010

"Wheels of Change" Wins Major Car Book Award

Wheels of Change by Kevin Nelson, co-published by CHS and Heyday Books, has won a prestigious car book award: The Valentine Memorial Award for 2010, presented by the Society of Automotive Historians.   The award has been presented annually since 1999 to honor the late James Valentine, a founder of the chapter, who had a great interest in the relationship between the automobile industry and the state of California .

It is not possible to think of California without the influence of cars, nor can anyone imagine how the modern automobile would have developed without California. In Wheels of Change, author and historian Kevin Nelson brings to life the adventures and personalities that have shaped the story of California’s car culture, from engineering wizards to rebels without a cause to "gearheads" and dry lake racers. Nelson’s lively account covers the early days of horseless carriages all the way up through the 1950s and early ’60s, during the glory years of hot rods, customs, drag racing, and imported sports cars. He reveals the movie industry’s influence on cars, including the raucous off-screen racing exploits of Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, James Dean, and Steve McQueen.

About the Author

Kevin Nelson is the author of eighteen books. His Operation Bullpen: The Inside Story of the Biggest Forgery Scam in American History is currently under development to be a motion picture. Another highly praised book of his, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball, co-published by California Historical Society and Heyday Books, was named one of the top ten books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Nelson devoted three years to researching and writing Wheels of Change, driving thousands of miles around California on road trips to car shows, car museums, car clubs, racetracks, the El Mirage dry lakes area, and other significant spots in the state’s automotive history. Nelson currently lives in the Bay Area with his wife and children.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

11/4/10 Book Talk and Signing with Inge S. Horton – Early Woman Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Talk and Signing with Inge S. Horton – Early Woman Architects of the San Francisco Bay Area – The Lives and Work of Fifty Professionals, 1890 – 1951

California Historical Society, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m., Free

Inge Schaefer Horton is a retired city planner with a strong background in architecture who has been researching early women architects who lived and practiced at the same time as Julia Morgan, the eminent California architect. Her passion for discovering the careers and work of these lesser-known professionals began when she and her friends mounted an exhibition on European women architects at the San Francisco AIA (American Institute of Architects.) One of her friends remarked that the Europeans are lucky because they have so many role models while we in the United States have only Julia Morgan. Inge thought that it was highly unlikely that Julia Morgan was the only female pursuing architecture and started her search for her cohorts. Her research was full of surprises and eventually led to her decision to write a book about these amazing women. This program was developed in collaboration with William Stout Books.

Monday, October 4, 2010

California's Day of Inclusion

Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) authored Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 76 to have December 17th designated as the “Day of Inclusion” in California. December 17th was chosen as a way to memorialize the historic Magnuson Act, signed into law on December 17, 1943, which repealed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and marked a turning point regarding society’s harsh attitudes towards immigration and immigrants. By repealing the “Chinese Exclusion” prohibitions, the United States expressed its commitment to continue to break down cultural barriers, appreciate differences, enrich cultural diversity, and further racial, religious and cultural tolerance. 

One of the photographs used in this production came from the collection of the California Historical Society.  Many images from our collection are available on Calisphere, the image database for the Online Archive of California.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

CHS Digitization Project: Peoples Temple Photographs

Peoples Temple children, Jonestown, Guyana. c.1977-1978
Photographs of Peoples Temple in the United States and Guyana,
PC 010.07.0778, California Historical Society.

The California Historical Society (CHS) has just completed a project to digitize 200 images from their collection of Photographs of the Peoples Temple in the United States and Jonestown, Guyana. The project was funded by a California Local History Digital Resources Program (LHDRP) grant, supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. These images are now available online through the Online Archive of California at and through Calisphere at, both public projects of the California Digital Library. These digital images represent a sampling of images from a larger collection of over 1200 slides of the membership of Peoples Temple, spanning from the early days of the church in Redwood Valley, California to the construction and cultivation of Jonestown.

The community of Peoples Temple survivors was instrumental in assisting CHS on the project, and was able to supply the names of many previously unidentified members, date many of the images, and resolve identifications that were disputed. Their generous work as volunteers has made an enormous impact, and all of us at CHS would like to thank them for their efforts; their contribution will assist researchers and the families of the deceased for the life of the collection. The names that were provided form part of the information available online with the digital images, and allow for searching the photographs by individual, in addition to geographic location or subject.

The Peoples Temple Collection at the California Historical Society continues to draw visitors from around the world to do research for films, books, and articles as we make more information about the holdings of CHS available online. The collection also continues to grow, thanks to donations from former members of Peoples Temple. CHS holds the bulk of materials relating to Peoples Temple and the events that surrounded the November 18, 1978 tragedy in Jonestown, Guyana. Comprised of over 25 related collections, the Peoples Temple Collection includes organizational records from Peoples Temple, personal papers of former members, survivors and their families, researchers, and government agencies. The materials in the collection include correspondence, organizational documents, artifacts, legal documents, audiotapes, slides and photographs, along with a wide array of published materials.

Tanya Hollis

Archivist/Manuscripts Librarian
California Historical Society

Monday, September 27, 2010

California Nights! Vintage California 10/13/10 FREE Event

Come join the California Historical Society celebrate all things California! Connect, learn, and discuss the future of the great state of California, all while listening to music and enjoying complementary refreshments.

October's California Nights will have a "Vintage California" theme: there will be a live DJ playing Swing music, Rockabilly and Big-Band classics.  Wear your vintage duds and join us for a great evening!

California Nights @ The California Historical Society
Wednesday, October 13 2010
5:00 - 8:00 p.m.
678 Mission Street
San Francisco

Monday, September 20, 2010

Litquake Public Reading and Reception 10/3/10

Sunday, October 3, 2010

CLA All-Stars: 25 Years of San Jose's Center for Literary Arts

California Historical Society
678 Mission St. San Francisco
6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

$10/ $5 CHS members, students and seniors

Tickets are now available at
Tickets will also be available at the door prior to the event.

There will be a VIP reception from 5:30 to 6:20 p.m., tickets are $25 click here to buy. Share a glass of wine and intimate conversation with the authors before their public reading during Litquake festivities (includes admission to the reading).

For 25 years, the Center for Literary Arts has hosted writers of exceptional voice and vision, including five winners of the Nobel Prize and dozens of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners. CLA visitors give readings and public conversations at San Jose State University and at a public high school on the eastside of San Jose.  Hosted by CLA director Andrew Altschul.

Join best-selling authors Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman Warrior, Tripmaster Monkey), Mary Roach (Packing for Mars, Stiff, Spook, Bonk), Daniel Alarcón (Lost City Radio), Kim Addonizio (Tell Me, Lucifer at the Starlite) and Andrew Sean Greer (The Story of a Marriage) as they read from their latest works. This program was developed in collaboration with the San Jose Center for Literary Arts and Litquake.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Today is the 160th anniversary of California's statehood!

1890 Photo of the original Bear Flag. 
Stored in the Halls of  The Society of California Pioneers 
the flag was destroyed in the
San Francisco earthquake and firestorm of 1906

In the late 18th century California was an important part of New Spain, having been colonized by the Spanish Empire primarily through the establishment of missions and presidios over the period between 1769 and 1823.  The 21 Missions established by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan order, were both military and religious settlements that functioned independently of each other and allowed for the further colonization of what was then known as Alta California.  Prior to the arrival of Portuguese, English and Spanish explorers, California had one of the most linguistically and culturally diverse populations in pre-Columbian North America including more than 70 distinct groups of Native Americans. 

In 1821 the Mexican War of Independence effectively freed Alta California from Spanish Control.  California was divided into huge land grants for Mexican "Californios" who established family-controlled ranchos in what was then a remote northern province of the Mexican Empire (later Republic). 

On June 14, 1846 a group of American settlers declared independence from Mexican rule, this uprising was known as the Bear Flag Revolt and occurred during the Mexican-American War (1846 to 1848).  As a result of the war, California was ceded to the United States by Mexico and became the 31st state admitted to the Union on September 9, 1850.

Tonight! Book Talk: Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book talk with Erika Lee and Judy Yung - Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America

California Historical Society, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., Free!

From 1910 to 1940, the Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco served as the processing and detention center for over one million people from around the world. The majority of newcomers came from China and Japan, but there were also immigrants from India, the Philippines, Korea, Russia, Mexico, and over seventy other countries. The full history of these immigrants and their experiences on Angel Island is told for the first time in this landmark book, published to commemorate the immigration station's 100th anniversary. This program was developed in collaboration with the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation.

678 Mission Street, San Francisco CA

Thursday, September 2, 2010

California Nights! Free event on 9/8/10 @ 5:00 p.m.

It's almost time again for California Nights!  Come join the California Historical Society celebrate all things California! Connect, learn, and discuss the future of the great state of California, all while listening to California-themed music and enjoying complementary refreshments. California Nights will be held every second Wednesday each month through November, so mark your calendar!

This month California Nights will have an "Endless Summer" theme and feature a live DJ playing surf music!

California Nights
9/8/10 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
678 Mission Street, San Francisco

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Upcoming Bus Trip - San Mateo County Coast 9/18/10

Saturday, September 18th from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • $95 CHS Member
  • $115 Non-Member (Price includes transportation from CHS, guide, and admissions, lunch is not included)
  • To purchase tickets please call 415-357-1848 ext. 229
This beautiful and historic area is our destination for the day. Starting at CHS, we drive south along the California coast, amidst artichoke and brussels sprouts fields to Pigeon Point, one of our famous lighthouses. The lighthouse has experienced some structural damage, so we are not able to enter it, but we will hear of its history and naming. Then we’ll drive north to the coastal village of Pescadero (Spanish for “fisherman”). Following a break for lunch, we will head north to the city of Half Moon Bay, originally called Spanishtown, and do a walk about the city as well as visit the James Johnston House. If time permits we will visit the fabulous Ritz Carlton Hotel, atop the coastal cliffs just southwest of Half Moon Bay, and return via Devil’s Slide. Walk is easy.
678 Mission Street, San Francisco

Friday, August 27, 2010

Make no Little Plans: Daniel Burnham and the American City

California Historical Society contributed an image of the map from Daniel Burnham’s Report on a Plan for San Francisco (San Francisco, Sunset Press, 1905) for this PBS documentary which will premiere Labor Day 2010.

MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS: DANIEL BURNHAM AND THE AMERICAN CITY, a new one-hour documentary by The Archimedia Workshop will air on Labor Day, Monday September 6, 2010, 10PM EST on PBS. The program is written, directed and produced by Judith Paine McBrien. Noted media arts organization Kartemquin Films and scriptwriter Geoffrey Ward consulted on the project.

MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS: DANIEL BURNHAM AND THE AMERICAN CITY is the story of a dreamer who shaped some of America’s best-known places and spaces. The film explores Burnham’s fascinating career and complex legacy as public debate continues today about how and for whom cities are planned.

Narrated by Oscar nominated actress Joan Allen, MAKE NO LITTLE PLANS combines digital models, original drawings, personal letters, animated graphics and stunning visuals to highlight dramatic developments that transformed both Burnham and the American city-- the early development of the skyscraper; the awesome impact of the 1893 World’s Fair; and the physical reconfiguration of existing cities, including our nation’s capital.

Insightful commentary by some of the country’s most distinguished historians, architects, critics and urban planners enlivens the story as does an original musical score by composer Michael Bacon, who is well-known to PBS audiences.

“He had a personality that was as big as the subject of cities”, explains architect David Childs, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, and one of many noted commentators in the film. “We should care about Burnham because he was part of a group that changed ideas about planning and architecture and because of the fact that our cities are full of the history that he caused to happen.”
Check your local PBS station for listings.
For more information please visit:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Teacher Open House 8/26/10

The California Historical Society is hosting a Teacher Open House on August 26th.  If you are an educator we invite you to stop in between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for drinks and snacks, and to learn more about educational resources offered by CHS.  There will be books and free educational materials available. 

Other local institutions participating in the Teacher Open House are: San Francisco Camerawork, Cartoon Art Museum, Contemporary Jewish Museum, The Society of California Pioneers, The Museum of the African Diaspora, Museum of Craft and Folk Art, SFMOMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Zeum.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California Ephemera Project

Invite, Metro Madness, 1980
The California Ephemera Project website is now live!

Though still a work in progress, the project should be completed by the end of 2010.  The California Ephemera Project (CEP) provides access to the finding aids of ephemera collections at California institutions. The ephemera collections span from 1850 to the present, and contain advertisements, announcements, brochures, catalogs, menus, pamphlets, billheads, theater programs, clippings, bylaws, flyers, tickets, travel guides, and more.

Collections represent California businesses, associations, schools, institutions, and clubs; events ranging from world's fairs and earthquakes to parades and protests; buildings and structures, including the construction of Bay Area bridges; and extensive biographical files on both well-known and little-known Californians.

Funded by a Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant awarded by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to process and describe their ephemera in 2009-2010, the initial partners on the California Ephemera Project include the California Historical Society; the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society; the San Francisco Public Library; and the Society of California Pioneers, all located in San Francisco.

The California Ephemera Project also has a great blog: which has been tracking the progress of the project.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Upcoming bus trip and walking tour - Tale of Two Cities: Benicia & Martinez 8/21/10

BENICIA AND MARTINEZ (Bus trip) with Gary Holloway
Saturday, August 21st, from 9a.m. to 5 p.m.

Old state house, Benicia, CA

  • Price: $95 Member, $115 Non-Member (Includes transportation, guide and admissions, lunch is not included)
  • To purchase tickets please call 415-357-1848 ext. 229
  • Meet at California Historical Society @ 678 Mission Street

Our first CHS Tale of Two Cities bus trip will be two cities which frame the Carquinez Strait. In the morning we will drive around and walkabout Benicia, laid out by City Surveyor Jasper O’Farrell to be the metropolis of the West, due to its strategic location between the Great Valley and the Bay Area. Our third of four American-period capitals, Benicia is full of great architecture and many stories of early California. We will have our lunch here, there are many restaurants to choose from.  Then we will cross to the south side of the Strait to visit Martinez by bus and by (easy) walking. Here we will find a very healthy downtown area, complimented by the Contra Costa County Courthouses and a thriving stream habitat, complete with beavers! And we’ll find the birthplace of Joe Dimaggio, and the longtime home of John Muir.