Annual Meeting New Member Presentations

Library Albemarle Constantine cropped

Excerpts from the report in the Spring 2015 Newsletter:

Sue Mote is working on a novel, “An Ordinary Viking,” the story of an adventure-seeking youth who really doesn’t like the shedding of blood. When researching the Viking age for a work of fiction, Sue found many details elusive. The Norse had no written language beyond the runes with which they carved messages on memorial stones and personal belongings and on random walls and deck planking. For written accounts, all we have are the views of travelers, spectators, and victims, i.e., outsiders.  Archaeological evidence provides a limited and shifting view. Much of the Vikings’ material culture was of wool or wood, which easily decays. The interpretation of evidence shifts because new objects keep surfacing, and technology requires adjustment of the meanings of physical evidence. For example, bone scans have turned the Oseberg ship burial’s “crippled old servant” into a woman who ate what only royalty could afford.

Margaret Simmons, daughter of late Institute member Ann Marie Koller, presented her mother’s scholarly life and the dilemma she faces in the publication of her mother’s biography of dancer Tilly Losch. Ann Marie was born in 1913 in the suburbs of Plentywood, Montana. Her life was devoted to scholarship. It is all she ever wanted to do, and it is what she did while teaching high school. She was a happy member of the Institute. She taught herself German to work on a biography of the Duke of Meiningen while she was getting her PhD at Stanford. That research became The Theatre Duke. Along the way, she wrote a piece about Ira Aldrich, a black actor who had worked with the Duke of Meiningen in the 19th century. (See the collection Ira Aldridge: The African Roscius for Ann Marie’s essay).

Liz Vasile, a historical and cultural geographer,  spent most of her career outside academia, in program management and evaluation. She recently returned to Cal as an academic coordinator, a job that involves navigating the institutional bureaucracy of the university on behalf of faculty and members of an interdisciplinary research center. Part of the draw of returning to campus was to be able to focus on a little scholarship of her own.  Picking up the threads of her previous research and fieldwork, on urban peripheries and enclaves, counter cultural and oppositional movement, and migration in Latin America, North Africa, and the US, Liz is diving into the literature in search of a focal point for future work, and a good research question. One area of particular interest is Mediterranean or Southern Thought, as an alternative framework for examining the modern migration experience. Liz finds that a major challenge of independent scholarship is a lack of dialogue.

– Sue Bessmer

Edward Von der Porten described the Manila Galleon Project that has engaged him for the past sixteen or so years. Drawing on a wealth of experts from his career in marine archeology and history and support from various institutions, such as the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Mexico, he has put together a research and excavation team that has explored the remains of the San Felipe, found on the coast of Baja California. What started as a few pieces of porcelain, believed to be Chinese, found by American tourists, is now a full-fledged project that has slowly revealed treasures and information about the Chinese-Spanish-Philippine trade that lasted 250 years.

          – Maria Sakovich


California and the West Events

Summer 2020: Harlem of the West: The Fillmore Jazz Era and Redevelopment, an online lecture by Elizabeth Pepin Silva, a documentary filmmaker, photographer, writer, and former day manager of the historic Fillmore Auditorium, August 16.

Fall 2019: An event-filled two-day excursion to Sacramento, a tour of Marin Civic Center, and presentation by member Bonnie Portnoy on The Man Beneath the Paint: Tilden Daken.

Summer 2019: Reading of Judith Offer's play, Scenes from the Life of Julia Morgan

Fall 2018: Public Program, "South Asians in the South Bay: The Privileged Immigrants"

Spring 2018: Excursion to Niles area of Fremont with historic train ride and silent film museum

Spring 2018: The California and the West study group initiated the two public programs on "The Future of the Past in the Digital Age" and Benjamin Madley's talk on An American GenocideThe United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873.

Fall 2017: Martinez Adobe Fandango; Public Program: “Siberia and California: Connections During the Russian Revolution and Civil War”

Fall 2016: Amador County

Summer 2016: San Francisco Presidio

Winter 2016: Berkeley History Center

Spring 2015: Sonoma Plaza

Winter 2015: San Francisco Public Library

Summer 2014:  Red Oak Victory and World War II Homefront National Historic Park, Richmond

Spring 2014:  Los Gatos History Museum, "American Bohemia: The Cats Estate in Los Gatos”

Winter 2014:  Tour of California Historical Society exhibition on Juana Briones, January 25

Summer 2013:  Green Gulch Farm Zen Center visit, August 15

Spring 2013: Visits to Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and the McCune Collection at the Vallejo Public Library, April 13

Play Readers Upcoming Meeting

In the abundance of caution recommended by heath authorities, the group has decided to take a break from regular meetings.

The group welcomes new members.  If you wish to be placed on our email list and receive announcements, contact Joanne Lafler.

Writers Group Upcoming Meetings

Sunday, September 13, 1:30 pm,  via Zoom. Katya Miller and Rose Marie Cleese will present.

 

Public Programs

Sunday, August 16, 2:00 pm, Public Program: Elizabeth Pepin Silva will discuss the glory and destruction of San Francisco's Fillmore District of the mid-20th century, Harlem of the West: The Fillmore Jazz Era and Redevelopment Ms. Silva is a documentary filmmaker, photographer, writer, and former day manager of the historic Fillmore Auditorium. She grew up all around the Bay Area and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at San Francisco State University. Elizabeth was a staff producer at KQED-TV, where most recently she was series producer of "Truly CA," featuring documentaries about the Golden State. She wrote the book Harlem of the West -- the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era. A winner of film-festival awards and five Emmys, she lives in Ventura County. Please register soon via the event ticking site Eventbrite. Registration is free. The capacity of the Zoom meeting is limited, and 1,400 people who signed up for a San Francisco Public Library presentation by Ms. Silva had to be turned away.
Public programs have included panel discussions, individual presentations, and film series. Programs are co-sponsored with other institutions, including public libraries, universities, museums, and archives. Read More...

Next Monthly Program

Sunday, September 20, 2:00 pm, Black History in Marin County: From the Spaniards to the Great Migration IHS member Marilyn Geary will present unique stories of Black individuals who made their marks amid the biases of a predominantly white society. Please join us via Zoom:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85868409468  Marilyn L. Geary is an oral historian, writer, and filmmaker. She is the author of Marin City Memories, based on the oral histories of African-Americans who migrated from the South to work in the Sausalito shipyards during World War II. Marilyn's community oral-history projects include  The Faces of Marin City; the film Marin Mind/Scapes: Stories of Art, Nature and Healing; and The Madonna del Lume/Blessing of the San Francisco Fishing Fleet, a Local Legacy project of the Library of Congress.  Her writings have appeared in Turning Memories into MemoirsThe Oral History Review, the West Marin Review, and elsewhere. Marilyn is writing a nonfiction account of the lives of three Swiss-Italian brothers who immigrated to California and Australia in the mid-19th century.  

About Us

The Institute for Historical Study is a community of researchers, writers, and artists. Our common bond is a devotion to history in its many forms. Through wide-ranging programs, we share research, ideas, and practical advice and provide a public forum for the discussion of history. 

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We Promote:

  •  the study and discussion of history outside the traditional classroom setting
  •  research, writing, performances, exhibitions, and other expressions of historical study
  •  non-traditional and interdisciplinary areas of study as well as traditional approaches to history

 

 

Member News

Welcome to our newest members David Goldberg and Stephen Barton. Learn about them under Member Profiles. Welcome back to Paula Gillett, a founding member and first president of our board of directors. She is now professor emerita in the Humanities Department of the College of Humanities and the Arts at San Jose State.

Members' Recent Activities:

Laudatory reviews of Karen Offen’s latest volumes on The Woman Question in France have appeared in the Journal of Modern History (Vol. 92, No. 1, March 2020) and in the American Historical Review (Vol. 125, No.2, April 2020).

Tim Welsh has kept busy with updates to his website sfinfilm.com, detailing life in San Francisco during the shutdown as compared to earlier or “vintage” years.

Jody Offer's Pullman porters play (“Compared to What”) is contracted for an August 2021 run at the Masquers Theatre in Point Richmond. She continues her series of poems about “Drumpf and his cohort.” Her interview by Nina Serrano, a regular reviewer of poetry books, was broadcast on KPFA on April 14th. Under discussion was Jody’s collection of poems, The Grating of America.

Katya Miller was the featured speaker at the Cal Alumni Club in Sonoma County in February. She presented her work on the Statue of Freedom, erected on the Capital dome in 1863 in middle of the Civil War.

Joe Miller gave his talk, “Wild Women Suffragists and Their Reputation as Sex Radicals” to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society in February. “The audience laughed in the right places, and the feedback from them was encouraging.”

Maria Sakovich contributed another vignette to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation cache of stories at the Immigrant Voices website, “The Contrasting Cases of Two Russian Choral Directors” 

Congratulations to Our 2019 Mini-Grant Recipients:

Joe Miller, for his article on “Wild Women Suffragists” 

Anne Evers Hitz, for her book, Lost Department Stores of San Francisco.

Members:  Please submit news of your history-related publications, lectures, awards, research finds, etc. to webmaster@instituteforhistoricalstudy.org.

Join Us

We welcome all men and women who have a commitment to historical study, which may be demonstrated in one or more of the following ways...

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Institute for Historical Study
1399 Queens Road
Berkeley, CA 94708
info@instituteforhistoricalstudy.org

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