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

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

Tuesday, November 19,  1:00 pm, at the home of Joanne Lafler in Oakland. We will begin reading Long Day's Journey Into Night, by Eugene O'Neill.

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, December 8,  1:30 pm, at the home of Jim Gasperini in Kensington. Cathy Robbins will present.

Public Programs

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 World History Meeting:

Please contact Lyn Reese for information.  

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: Elise Ackerman, Kevin Knauss, Pam Peirce, and Anne Schnoebelen. Learn about them under Member Profiles.

Members' Recent Activities:

Taryn Edwards has an article in the latest Argonaut (Journal of the San Francisco Historical Society) on “Before the Midwinter Fair: The Mechanics’ Institute’s ‘Pacific Rim’ Industrial Exhibitions of 1869 and 1871."

In October Peter Stansky and his co-author Fred Leventhal are publishing with the Oxford University Press Leonard Woolf: Bloomsbury Socialist. In April, Peter published an “Afterword” to Elisabeth de Waal’s Milton Place (Persephone Books), a novel written shortly after the war but hitherto unpublished. “It came to light through a meeting I had with her grandson, Edmund de Waal, author of the highly regarded memoir, The Hare with Amber Eyes.”

Christopher L. Webber has just published Christian Psalms for Worship and Prayer. “The
traditional psalms written between two and three thousand years ago are an irreplaceable treasure,” Christopher writes, “but they can create problems for modern users. They come from an age unimaginably different from ours and take for granted patterns of life unfamiliar to most of us. To supplement, not replace, these psalms, I have taken passages from the writings of some of the greatest Christian teachers of every era, for example, St. Augustine, Julian of Norwich, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, and restructured them in the poetic style of the Biblical psalms which rhyme ideas, rather than sounds, to provide texts that can be used either in formal worship or in private meditation.”

In May, as part of the series of talks for the Supporters of the Museum of Russian Culture, Maria Sakovich presented “Russian Choral Music in San Francisco in the 1920s and 1930s: Cultural Riches and Cultural Sharing.” She was very pleased to have Rob Robbins in the audience. In the June 22 issue of Russian Life her talk from last year in the same series was published with photos: “Last Steps of a Long Journey – First Steps of a New Life” (part of a panel presentation about the USAT Merritt’s 1923 Russian refugee-emigrant passengers). Anatol Smelov kindly translated the article from English to Russian.

Ann Harlow wrote an article about the history of Berkeley’s City Hall for the Berkeley Historical Society newsletter and is working with a group on a self-guided history walking tour of Solano Avenue. She recently attended the Conference of California Historical Societies in Placerville, as did Peter Meyerhof.

Jody/Judith Offer writes that she is “enjoying readings and some sales of her new
‘soon-to-become-history’ chapbook, The Grating of America, about the disastrous consequences of our current administration and some of the people fighting it. Copies are available at several bookstores in Oakland and Berkeley and online. If you have any ideas for bookstores, clubs, or churches/synagogues that might schedule a reading, please contact me."

Congratulations to Our 2018 Mini-Grant Recipients:

Jim Gasperini, for editing and other expenses in preparation of a book manuscript with the working title Fire in the Mind: How We Imagined the Non-Living Relative that Gave Us Control of the World.
Richard Hurley, to revise and reprint panels of a traveling exhibit, California in the Civil War.
Joe Miller, for research, editing and illustrations for an article, “Wild Women Suffragists and the Sex Scandals that Almost Sank the Movement.”

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

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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
P.O. Box 5743
Berkeley, CA 94705
info@instituteforhistoricalstudy.org

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