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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

An evening with Matt Garcia, author of From the Jaws of Victory

Tuesday, November 13, 2012, 6:00 PM at the California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco



Join us for an evening with author Matt Garcia. His book, From the Jaws of Victory: The Triumph and Tragedy of Cesar Chavez and the Farm Worker Movement is the most comprehensive history ever written on the meteoric rise and precipitous decline of the United Farm Workers, the most successful farm labor union in United States history. Based on little-known sources and one-of-a-kind oral histories with many veterans of the farm worker movement, this book revises much of what we know about the UFW. Matt Garcia’s gripping account of the expansion of the union’s grape boycott reveals how the boycott, which UFW leader Cesar Chavez initially resisted, became the defining feature of the movement and drove the growers to sign labor contracts in 1970. Garcia vividly relates how, as the union expanded and the boycott spread across the United States, Canada, and Europe, Chavez found it more difficult to organize workers and fend off rival unions. Ultimately, the union was a victim of its own success and Chavez’s growing instability.

From the Jaws of Victory delves deeply into Chavez’s attitudes and beliefs, and how they changed over time. Garcia also presents in-depth studies of other leaders in the UFW, including Gilbert Padilla, Marshall Ganz, Dolores Huerta, and Jerry Cohen. He introduces figures such as the co-coordinator of the boycott, Jerry Brown; the undisputed leader of the international boycott, Elaine Elinson; and Harry Kubo, the Japanese American farmer who led a successful campaign against the UFW in the mid-1970s. Copies of From the Jaws of Victory will be available for purchase at the event. 

Poetry and Photography: Five Poets on I See Beauty in This Life

Poetry reading and discussion

Friday, November 16, 2012, 7:00 PM at the California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street San Francisco, CA


The new exhibition I See Beauty in This Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural California features nearly one hundred fifty photographs that, together, tell a complex story about the vast mosaic of California’s rural life. At this event, notable poets Richard Silberg, Robert Sward, Jack and Adele Foley, and Tess Taylor, all published by California’s Red Hen Press, will respond to I See Beauty in This Life and read some of their own recent work.

I See the Beauty in this Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural California - Opening Party

Sunday, October 28, 2012, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

I See the Beauty in this Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural California - Opening Party

$5 suggested donation
California Historical Society members are always free

Join us for the opening celebration of I See Beauty in this Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural CaliforniaThis exhibition was curated by writer & photographer Lisa M. Hamilton, the first visiting scholar in a new series Curating California

About the exhibition:
            In many people’s experience, California consists of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and the highways that connect them. In reality these urban centers make up only a fraction of the whole; according to the 2010 Census, geographically the state of California is more than 94 percent rural. Surprise Valley, Lost Hills, Raisin City, Mecca—these are the communities that make up “the rest” of California.
            Over the past two years, writer and photographer Lisa M. Hamilton has been telling the stories of these rural communities in her multimedia work Real Rural. For this exhibition she has delved into the collections of the California Historical Society to connect these present-day stories with the past. Featuring roughly 150 photographs, I See Beauty in This Life is a combination of large-scale color prints by Hamilton and her selections from California Historical Society’s vast photography collections—material dating from the 1880s through the mid-twentieth century, much of which has never been exhibited before. Led through CHS’s vast collection of historic photographs by the director of Library and Archives Mary Morganti, Hamilton has selected images that are not predictable views of pastoral windmills or heroic mule teams, but rather images that reflect her own keen interest in revealing the unexpected. Her approach to the Historical Society’s collections is different from that of an historian in that her first priority was to choose images that are outstanding for aesthetic reasons. Taken by amateur and mostly unknown photographers, the photographs are remarkable for their beauty and unusual perspective.  These press prints, snapshots, and publicity stills are also intimate records of struggle, celebration, community, and the endless work required to wrest a livelihood from the land. Together, they tell a complex—and sometimes humorous—story of the many different individual lives and landscapes comprising the vast mosaic that is the Golden State.
            I See Beauty in this Life: A Photographer Looks at 100 Years of Rural California is on view from October 28, 2012 through March 24, 2013. The California Historical Society Gallery is open Tuesday through Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stern Grove Festival Association Records

Stern Grove Festival Association Records, MS 2063

San Francisco’s open-air summer concert series, the Stern Grove Festival, presented its 75th season this year. In acknowledgment of this milestone, the Stern Grove Festival Association (SGFA) records have been reprocessed with a finding aid made available on the Online Archive of California.

Inspired by its bucolic setting and natural acoustics, Mrs. Rosalie Stern purchased and deeded Stern Grove to the city in 1931. Since then, Stern Grove has functioned as a nonprofit city recreational and park facility, featuring a diverse array of performances by renowned classical and jazz musicians, and theatre and dance companies. 
 Allied Relief Benefit Concert program, 1940, Stern Grove Festival Association Records, MS 2063
The Stern Grove Festival Association Records consist of correspondence, meeting minutes, programs, posters, photographs, and scrapbooks, which document the activities of the SGFA, as well as the city’s long history of support and appreciation for the arts.  

The new guide to the collection can be found on the Online Archive of California at

Megan Hickey Nespeco, Library Volunteer