Blog Archives

Institute Activities

See what’s coming up for Institute members or the public on our What’s New page. Prospective members can inquire about coming once or twice as a visitor before joining. Public events are irregular. 

old calendar

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Conversation on History Publishing

Malcolm and jackie
Speaking June 17, 2018:

Malcolm Margolin headed Heyday Books from 1974 to 2015, and Jackie Pels has run Hardscratch Press since 1990. Join us on Sunday, June 17 (our usual Work-in-Progress time slot, the 3rd Sunday) at the Berkeley Central Public Library,

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Local History Excursion May 20: Niles Canyon

Niles pano

Join the California and the West Group at Niles Canyon in Fremont on Sunday, May 20, for an entire day of history-laden activities organized by Rose Marie Cleese. “Tentative plans call for a late-morning half-hour ride on the historic Niles Canyon Railway from Fremont to Sunol (for a nominal fee),

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The Future of the Past in the Digital Age

RS19165_Case15wallGIS_800px-qut-768x434This March! Two illuminating panels that explore the intersection of digital technology and history. Whether you’re a researcher, writer, history teacher, student, archivist, historian, or simply a history buff, you’ll discover how today’s technology tools are changing the study and accessibility of all things historical forever. 

Panelists include:

  • Chris Carlsson,

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Save the Date: Feb. 24

 

Our annual membership meeting will be on Saturday, February 24 at the Mechanics’ Institute Library, San Francisco. Come hear what we’ve been up to, elect some new board members, have lunch, and hear a presentation by Monika Trobits, one of our mini-grant recipients.

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Holiday Greetings from the Institute!

Christmas greetings

May you have a fun-filled or restful holiday season, whichever you prefer. We hope to see you in the New Year—see our Upcoming Events.

Prospective members, we hope you will join us in 2018. Existing members, please recruit someone new!

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Thank You!

potluckJody Offer once again hosted our annual potluck at her house, and a good time was had by all! Many thanks to Jody and her husband Stuart, and to the fabulous chefs among our group. Eating and drinking together has always been a favorite activity of the Institute for Historical Study!

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Public Event: “Siberia and California”

Siberia and California: Connections during the Russian Revolution and Civil War

Late in 1917 (25 October according to the Old Style calendar, 7 November according to the New Style), shortly after the US entered World War I and began sending troops to France on the side of the Allies,

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History Play Readers Invite Newcomers

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 3.14.48 PMThe history play readers will meet on Friday, October 27, at 1 pm at the San Francisco home of Nancy Zinn to read and discuss Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore. The title refers both to Alan Turing’s work as a mathematician  and computer science pioneer,

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Fandango!   

Martinez adobeThe California and the West Study Group is sponsoring an event on September 30th open to the whole Institute membership.  We will be attending a fandango in Martinez at the historic Martinez adobe, with a number of added inducements. The fandango, a traditional community dance, has been organized by a group that sings historic Californio songs and also plays for dancing,

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It’s Mini-Grant Time!

Screen Shot 2017-07-17 at 5.42.41 PMThe Institute Board of Directors is pleased to announce the Mini-Grant Program for 2017-18. The deadline for this year’s application is September 15. The Mini-Grant Committee will examine the applications and report its decisions to the Board, which will have the final say. Checks will be issued by October 15.

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Mother Lode Trip, Sept. 23–25, 2016

Members of the Institute, along with members of the Italian-American Studies Association, had a fabulous history trip to the heart of California’s Gold Country the weekend of September 23–25, 2016.

Thank you to Rose Marie Cleese for organizing it! For a report on the weekend, see our Fall 2016 newsletter.

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History of Art Venues in Berkeley

Howard Sketch croppedAnn Harlow and the California and the West Study Group invite Institute members and their guests to a day of local art and architecture history in Berkeley on Saturday, January 23, 2016. We will meet at 10 am at the Berkeley Historical Society, Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center Street.

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It’s Mini-Grant Time!

US-$500-LT-1880-Fr-185lThe Institute Board of Directors is pleased to announce the Mini-Grant Program for 2015-16. The deadline for this year’s application is September 15. The Mini-Grant Committee will examine the applications and report its decisions to the Board, which will have the final say. Checks will be issued by October 15.

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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,

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Report on San Francisco Main Library Tour

SF History Center
Nine Institute members received an exclusive tour of the main San Francisco Public Library on January 31, 2015. Our guide, Susan Goldstein, has served as City Archivist since 1995. In her position, she works with all the city departments to preserve and make accessible their historical records.

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SFPL Tour 1/31/15

SFPL-archictectureBrought to you by the California and the West Study Group:  Please join us for a special tour of the New Main Library on Saturday, January 31st, from 10:15 AM to 12 noon. The New Main (now almost 20 years old!) opened its doors on April 18,

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Public Program: World War I Films

All QuietA series of major films about World War I begins in January and continues into May. Showings will be on Sunday afternoons, at the San Francisco Main Library on the dates indicated below. Each film will be introduced by an Institute member, and there will be time for discussion afterwards.

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Local History Field Trips for 2015

Brush_Stroke_2015_CalendarSix members of the Institute whose specialties include California got together on November 8th at Jody Offer’s house to plan for a year of programs.  Meeting were Jody, Ann Harlow, Joanne Lafler, Rose Marie Cleese, Peter Meyerhof, and Edith Piness.  After some discussion, the group concluded that having a series of visits to historic sites had proven to be a winning formula for 2014 and that there was plenty of material for another year of such explorations. 

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Report on Richmond Waterfront Field Trip

On July 26 a dozen or so Institute members and friends visited aboard the SS Red Oak Victory ship moored in Richmond (an exhibition of the Richmond Museum of History). This Victory ship, built in 1944 at the Kaiser Shipyards, was one of ten built for the Navy.

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Report on Los Gatos Field Trip

Institute members converged from the East Bay, South Bay, and San Francisco at the History Museum of Los Gatos on March 27th.  Dawn Maxson gave us a leisurely tour, beginning with the story of the handsome stone building, part of a flour mill from the 1850s that hosted rock concerts in the early 1970s.

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Los Gatos Field Trip

Los Gatos catsLos Gatos gateThe California and the West study group invites you to tour the exhibition at the History Museum of Los Gatos, American Bohemia: The Cats Estate in Los Gatos.  The exhibition explores the storied lives of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field,

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History Expo

For the first time, the Institute for Historical Study will have an information booth at the San Francisco History Expo at the Old Mint, presented by the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society on March 1 and 2, 2014, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  

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Visit to Juana Briones Exhibition

Juana tour

On  January 25th about sixteen of us had the privilege of a preview tour of the new exhibition at the California Historical Society, San Francisco, guided by Executive Director Anthea Hartig with commentary by Institute member Jeanne Farr McDonnell. (More to come soon.)

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Report on Archives Program

We had a good turnout at the San Francisco Main Public Library on October 10th for the program on “Treasures in Archives: Research Possibilities for Students, Teachers and Scholars.”  All four speakers gave interesting presentations. Susan Goldstein spoke about the City Archives in the library’s San Francisco History Center.  They have recently acquired huge amounts of records from city departments from the Police Department to the Redevelopment Agency to the Medical Examiner (coroner). 

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Public Program on Archives, October 10

Where would historians be without archives? Come to the San Francisco Main Public Library and learn about some lesser-known archival treasures of San Francisco. Four archivists will highlight resources for local history and national history within a local setting: Chris Doan, Archivist for the Sisters of the Presentation; Susan Goldstein,

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Annual Potluck, September 7

About 25 Institute members and guests gathered on Saturday, September 7th, at Margaretta Mitchell’s house on the Berkeley/Oakland border. Thank you, Gretta, for hosting us! After a sumptuous dinner we discussed possible uses for the Frank Brechka bequest. A task force was created to explore some of the options, to be chaired by Ellen Huppert.

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Trip to Green Gulch Farm Zen Center

On August 15, a beautiful, sunny Thursday, fourteen Institute members and friends ventured to Marin County to the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center near Muir Beach. Jody Offer worked on arrangements, and David Chadwick, our long-time member, whose work on a website on Shunryu Suzuki he had summarized in a work-in-progress recently,

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World Map, Thomas Cavendish, 1707

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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Native American Encampment on Lake Huron, Paul Kane (1810-1871)

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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The Old Plantation​, ca. 1790, attr. to John Rose

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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The Unicorn is Found

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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Companions, Claude Raguet Hirst (1855-1942)

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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Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay, Fortunato Arriola (1827-1872)

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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Vallejo Outing April 13, 2013

Twelve Institute members had a history-filled day in Vallejo on April 13, with private viewings of two institutions: the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum, where Executive Director Jim Kern gave us a tour before regular open hours, and the McCune Collection at the Vallejo Public Library.  Highlights at the museum included artifacts from Mare Island (the first U.S.

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2012 Annual Dinner Lecture Report

The Global Migrations of Ornamental Plants

Plants migrate across the globe by hitching rides on exported building materials, riding as seeds in the entrails of animals, stowing away in the luggage of plant-loving travelers, or simply floating on wind that sweeps across continents. Author-neurologist Judith M. Taylor not only traced the migratory movements of numerous plants but also introduced botany’s earliest explorers,

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California and the West Events

Fall 2020: Revealing San Francisco’s Hidden 19th-Century Black History: A Tour of California Historical Society Artifacts, lecture by Susan D. Anderson, SF History Days (video here)

Summer 2020: Harlem of the West: The Fillmore Jazz Era and Redevelopment, online lecture by Elizabeth Pepin Silva

Fall 2019: An event-filled two-day excursion to Sacramento

Fall 2019:  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 11, 1:30 pm, via Zoom. Jim Gasperini will present.

Public Programs

Sunday, August 21, 2:00 pm, Public Program via Zoom.
Writing and Revising Narrative History
A Presentation by Megan Kate Nelson
Join the Mechanics' Institute and the Institute for Historical Study for this exciting talk about writing with historian Megan Kate Nelson who left academia in 2014 to become a full-time writer. During this Zoom event, she will offer advice for writers who want to publish trade history books and other pieces for general readers. Dr. Nelson will talk about how to make the transition from academic to narrative history writing, how to revise manuscripts for trade publication, and how to pitch articles and Op-eds to newspapers and magazines.
Megan Kate Nelson is a historian and writer, with a BA from Harvard and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Iowa. She is the author of four books: Saving Yellowstone: Exploration and Preservation in Reconstruction America (Scribner 2022); The Three-Cornered War: The Union, the Confederacy, and Native Peoples in the Fight for the West (Scribner 2020; a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in History); Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War (Georgia, 2012); and Trembling Earth: A Cultural History of the Okefenokee Swamp (Georgia, 2005). She writes about the Civil War, the U.S. West, and American culture for The New York Times, Washington Post, The Atlantic, Smithsonian Magazine, and TIME. Before leaving academia to write full-time in 2014, she taught U.S. history and American Studies at Texas Tech University, Cal State Fullerton, Harvard, and Brown. She grew up in Colorado but now lives in Boston with her husband and two cats.

Next Monthly Program

Sunday, September 18, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom.
How to Create Your Own Legacy Book
A Presentation by Margaretta Mitchell
Margaretta is both photographer and writer, who always brings research and history into her books. Since 2015, she has been producing a legacy series of books that serve as catalogues of bodies of work. She is currently working on a book about a year living in Spain in 1959-60. In her talk, Margaretta will use her publications to help those of you who want to create your own legacy book, including how to self-publish your work.
“My legacy series began with Iconographies in 2015 when I had an exhibition of 20x24 Polacolor prints at Photo Gallery in Oakland, California. The meaning of a work of art can penetrate many layers. For me, pursuing meaning in this 20x24 series involved research, a kind of playful exploration of themes from the past that matched my thinking at that time. Influenced by the writing of Panofsky, I believe that the study of the humanities, especially art, is profoundly useful because the past is a reality that shapes us even if we do not realize it. Thus, we can say that the past is part of everything we do or think—or even reject.”
Margaretta K. Mitchell is a well-established artist, photographer, writer and educator. Besides photographic commissions and portraiture, she exhibits her fine art photography nationally. She is the author of five books, including Recollections: Ten Women of Photography, Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life, and The Face of Poetry. Since 2015 she has been publishing a series of legacy books that focuses on her 50 years of work in photography. She is a contributor of both text and images to many more books and publications. Her latest book, Dreamscapes and Destinations, grew out of the period of pandemic lockdown. Margaretta has taught at UC Berkeley and UC and UCSC Extension. Her website is margarettamitchell.com.
The presentation will be recorded, and the question-and-answer part will be posted on YouTube for IHS members only. If you don’t want to be on the recording, just make sure your video is off. And please remember to mute your microphone!

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

Members' Recent Activities:

Sometime in Africa by Neil Dukas was published in May. “Convinced his college education was incomplete,” the nicely printed announcement reads, “Neil set out on an illconsidered 14,000 mile journey on the cheap across the length of Africa determined to address the shortcomings in his schooling and to experience, first-hand, some fragment of the developing world. The year was 1983, when Africa hovered between post-war decolonization and the advent of the internet. The author, dogged by a variety of ailments, stumbles from one self-inflicted near-death experience to the next. Yet surviving by the grace of the people he chances upon he filled three journals of priceless memories.” Neil’s third book can be ordered through Amazon.
Bonfire Saloon is Steve Levi’s latest publication. “I collected authentic names, events, cases, and incidents of the Alaska Gold Rush and condensed them into a single night, 3 December 1903, in a saloon in Nome. The book, which is history disguised as literature, in this case narrative poetry, gives a street level snap shot, an in-the-weeds look at the grit, grime and actual events in the middle of winter during the gold rush. (Winter lasts from mid-September to the first of June.) Historic photos illustrate this colorful period in Alaska’s history. For a glimpse of the contents see my short YouTube videos Connie the Wiggler and Marshal Jew Bob.” Bonfire Saloon is available for purchase at www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi. Steve adds that a spoken-word overview of the Alaska Gold Rush, which he wrote and was funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum, can be found on YouTube .

 

After a seven-year sojourn researching and writing about a canyon in the wilds of Mendocino County,” Dot Brovarney reports, “I am now working with a Ukiah designer to produce a visually beautiful book. Mendocino Refuge: Lake Leonard & Reeves Canyon is a cultural and natural history of an upper Russian
River watershed—home to hardy folk, ancient redwoods, a variety of wildlife, and the county’s largest lake, which Pomo peoples likely held as sacred space. The discovery of a trunk filled with family memorabilia led me down a number of fascinating and winding paths, including Native medicine traditions, two centuries of logging practices, and current conservation efforts in two watersheds. The 186-page book, with 200 images and maps, will be published through my business, Landcestry, in December of this year.

Welcome to our newest members.

Vince Emery created Vince Emery Productions http://www.emerybooks.com/
where he combines his skills as writer, literary detective, editor, and publisher, producing books and videos by and about established writers. “Our goal,” he writes, “is to give readers a deeper, closer connection with their favorite authors.” Dashiell Hammett, Harvey Milk, Jack London, and George Sterling are among the featured authors. Vince is currently working on “George Sterling's Greatest Hits,” “The Harvey Milk Letters,” and soon, “Writers of Carmel: An Anthology.”

Nathan Alexander Foxton is an artist living in San Francisco. Before moving here last year he had been working in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Harrison Center for the Arts (curator), at Ivy Tech Community College, University of Indianapolis, and Herron School of Art + Design (adjunct instructor). He’s a figurative painter, constructing space from a two-dimensional perspective. Nathan is interested in telling stories through his art about the soul of place and has a background teaching art history among other subjects. He has exhibited his work in group and solo shows.

John Hyde Barnard is a musician, writer, historian, and a retired Los Angeles City Librarian. He recently signed a publishing contract for “The Creole Incident: The Beginning of the End of Slavery,” a runner-up in the San Francisco Writers Conference Adult Non-Fiction Category (2021). “This historical narrative,” he writes, “details how the Union and the Constitution were saved, twenty years before the Civil War, by the actions of a few select members of the House of Representatives, led by the venerable John Quincy Adams, along with a handful of radical abolitionists and 19 enslaved individuals. The book is slated for release in late 2022.” John is still active as a musical arranger, director, publisher and performer and divides his time between Sausalito, Los Angeles and New York.

Members:  Please submit news of your history-related publications, lectures, awards, research finds, etc. to info@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
1399 Queens Road
Berkeley, CA 94708
info@instituteforhistoricalstudy.org

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