Thursday, December 6, 2018

Kicking Off the Holidays With Our 10th Annual Historic Libations

On November 27th, the California Historical Society hosted its 10th annual Historic Libations event at the Old U.S. Mint in San Francisco. This year’s theme was Back to the Future: History of Bay Area Food and Drink Innovation, and focused on local food and drink makers who are building on historic traditions to innovate in their various crafts.

Guests gathered inside the Old Mint’s elegant rooms and corridors, amidst the twinkle of tea lights, to toast and taste, listen to shorty tasty talks from food and drink makers, and enjoy pop-up tours of the Mint’s vaults and historic spaces.

Culinary Historian Erica Peters told stories of innovative tastes from throughout San Francisco history, exploring flavors originating in the Bay Area from cioppino and sourdough bread, to Rice-A-Roni and Pisco punch.


Father and daughter team Amy and Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolates discussed how, over the last 150 years, their company has made high quality chocolate by melding old world small-batch processing with modern techniques.

Bob Klein of Oliveto and Community Grains spoke on the history of California as a wheat state and how modern wheat production is a blend of innovation in farming, milling, and science with older, more traditional techniques.


Lance Winters of Saint George Spirits explored the ethos of the distillery, which has been at the vanguard of artisan distillation since its founding in 1982.

Susan Coss of Mezcalistas talked about the complicated relationship between California and Mexico as told through agave distillates.


The Buena Vista was on hand to serve up their famous Irish Coffees.

Banda Sin Nombre, a five-piece street band from San Francisco’s Mission District provided an epic evening of folk music from around the world.


The Museum of Craft and Design guided guests to design handmade wooden coasters.

We are grateful to all of our supporters to gathered with us kickstart the holiday season and celebrate the deep history of local food and drink culture at this year’s Historic Libations. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

CHS Names Susan D. Anderson Director of Library, Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs

The California Historical Society has appointed Susan D. Anderson as its new Director of Library, Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs. Anderson comes to CHS from the African American Museum & Library in Oakland, where she has served as Interim Chief Curator for the past year.

Anderson is a third generation Californian who was born at the Presidio in San Francisco, and has studied, lived, and worked throughout the state to increase public understanding of history. She is an expert in American and African American history with focused interest on ethnic, literary, and social justice communities in California.

“We are grateful to have found Susan, whose experience and expertise stood out among a group of exceptional candidates. As a historian, Susan has explored deeply a wide range of diverse communities and social justice movements,” said CHS Executive Director and CEO, Anthea Hartig. “That experience will be invaluable to her future work in acquisition, the development of CHS’s permanent collection, and guidance of our public history programming, with the goal of reflecting the diversity of California and documenting contemporary movements.”

Anderson’s additional professional experience includes working as curator and managing director at UCLA and USC libraries’ special collections, as well as curating a statewide, touring exhibition commemorating the centennial of Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park alongside the California African American Museum. Anderson has one published book of poetry and is working on another book to be published through Heyday Books entitled, “African Americans and the California Dream.” Throughout her decade of experience working in the public history realm, she has lectured at the California State Capitol Museum, the California State Railroad Museum, the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, the San Francisco Presidio, Richmond Museum of History, and the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, among others.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the talented, committed staff at the California Historical Society to expand its vision, reach, activities, and success to continue to make history a meaningful part of everyday experience,” Susan Anderson said. “This is truly an honor to be associated with such an esteemed organization that has been a trailblazer in terms of its exhibitions, historical significance and mission.”

In her new role at CHS, Anderson will serve as a key leader to the organization, providing guidance and vision to the North Baker Research Library and the CHS collection, as well as its rotating exhibitions and public programming, in alignment with CHS’s mission and strategic objectives. Critically, she will drive the fulfillment of two primary initiatives in the near future: The assessment of the collection’s needs and future in San Francisco’s Old U.S. Mint as part of an intensive study of that property as CHS’s new home, and the completion of Teaching California, a collaborative project funded by the State of California, designed to offer California K-12 teachers and their students an innovative online collection of teaching resources.

About the California Historical Society: The California Historical Society (CHS) is a non-profit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make the state’s richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives in order to create a more just and informed future. Founded in 1871, CHS maintains a premier collection of original materials documenting the history of California from the Spanish conquest to the present day. The CHS Collection represents the environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural heritage of the entire state, including materials from outside California that contribute to a greater understanding of the state and its people. Beginning with its founding, and especially since establishing its Yerba Buena District headquarters on Mission Street in 1995, CHS has served residents of the Bay Area, the state, and beyond with its research library, exhibitions, publications, and public educational programs that draw on its important and wide-ranging collections of California history. Today, CHS is embarking on a four-pronged effort to increase its public accessibility, relevance, and impact through innovative and thought-provoking exhibitions; impactful educational programs for youth and adults; expanded programming in Southern California where CHS holds significant collections in partnerships with the Autry National Center and the University of Southern California; and a major digital preservation, management, and access initiative. Importantly, CHS has received a major grant from the State of California to evaluate a relocation to the Old U.S. Mint via a partnership with the City and County of San Francisco. For more information, please visit

Monday, December 3, 2018

In Your Travels: California Historical Society Collections on the Road

CHS on the Road is a series of posts by registrar Cheryl Maslin highlighting CHS collections on loan to other institutions. In your travels, we hope you will be able to visit these exhibitions.

Artifacts from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition are on view in WWI America, currently showing at the Museum of History and Industry, 860 Terry Ave N., Seattle, through February 10, 2019, and coming soon to the Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave., Austin, March 16–August 11, 2019.

Throughout much of 2015 our many visitors at CHS were treated to the exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair, in commemoration of the centennial of the opening of the Panama Canal. The exhibition, which opened February 20 with a grand gala at the Palace of Fine Arts and concluded January 10, 2016, featured numerous images and artifacts from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, some generously provided by lenders, and many sourced from CHS’s own collections.

In 2017, the Minnesota Historical Society borrowed several of these artifacts from CHS for its traveling exhibition WWI America, now installed at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. These include the engraved silver spade made by Shreve & Co. (founded 1852 in San Francisco) used by President William Howard Taft in the groundbreaking ceremony on October 14, 1911, at the Golden Gate Park Polo Fields; a set of five Novagems, a gift of Maria Shoppe Bartee, two of which were on display in the conjunction exhibition at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts in 2015; and opening- and closing-day badges, the latter of which once belonged to five-year-old Albert Couderc, a gift of Marie Couderc.

Image courtesy of the Museum of History and Industry, Seattle, WA
Also featured in WWI America are four candlestick-style telephones that CHS borrowed for its show from the AT&T Archives and History Center. The phones were used in the first transcontinental conference call on January 25, 1915, between Alexander Graham Bell in New York; his former assistant, Thomas Watson, located at 333 Grant Avenue in San Francisco; Theodore Vail, president of AT&T, seated inside the Jekyll Island Club off the coast of Georgia; and President Woodrow Wilson, at the White House in Washington, DC.

Following its successful exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society (now the Virginia Museum of History and Culture) in Richmond, which saw some thirty-five thousand visitors, WWI America is now on view at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle through February 10, 2019. For more information, visit The show will then travel to the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, where it will be on view March 16 through August 11, 2019. See