Blog Archives

Monthly Program: Mindful Surrealism: Practice-Based Research in San Francisco

Sunday, January 15, 2022 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom.

Mindful Surrealism: Practice-Based Research in San Francisco

A Presentation by Nathan Foxton

Surrealism is a cultural and art historical movement that evolved over the 20th century,

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Monthly Program: The Genocide in California’s Closet

Sunday, December 18, 2022 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom.

The Genocide in California’s Closet
A Presentation by Robeert Aquinas McNally

Most Californians are unaware that in the second half of the 19th century their state sponsored and funded a campaign to exterminate its Indigenous peoples — a mass atrocity known under contemporary international law as genocide.

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Monthly Program: Eternal Flames: Excerpt from a work in progress

Sunday, October 16, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom. View a video of this presentation here.

Eternal Flames: Excerpt from a work in progress
A Presentation by Jim Gasperini

Jim presented a chapter of his work in progress,

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Monthly Program: How to Create Your Own Legacy Book

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.

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Public Program: Writing and Revising Narrative History

Sunday, August 21, 2:00 pm, Public Program. view a video of this presentation here.

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.

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Monthly Program: The Joy of Life: Impressionists and Post-impressionists in Russia

Sunday, July 17, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom.

The Joy of Life:
Impressionists and Post-impressionists in Russia
A Presentation by Marina Oberatova

Russia has one of the world’s best collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. It rivals the holdings of French museums—especially when it comes to the masterpieces of Paul Gauguin,

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Monthly Program: General Vallejo’s Efforts to Establish a Mission in Santa Rosa

Sunday, June 19, 2:00 pm,  via Zoom.

A Presentation by Peter G. Meyerhof

In 1834, all of the 19 missions in Alta California were turned over to civil administrators who were to take over secular control from the mission priests and arrange distribution of assets including the land to the baptized Native Americans who had worked there.

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Monthly Program: Second Wave Feminism in a Post War Suburban Synagogue

Sunday, May 15, 2:00 pm,  via Zoom
A Presentation by Michael Several

Between 1968 and 1979, women at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center wrote and produced five musical comedies. These productions are an example of women forging a presence in an institution that barred them from equal participation in religious ritual and prevented them from fully participating in temple governance.

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Monthly Program: Why the Jews Won’t Accept Jesus, and Why This Is a Problem for Christians

A video of this presentation can be viewed on our YouTube Channel.

Saturday, April 16, 2022 10:00 am

From the start, Christians have made special efforts to convert Jews. With rare exception, however, Jews have never been interested. Focusing mainly on Christianity’s first few centuries,

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Monthly Program: Matera and the Sassi: From National Shame to International Fame

Sunday, March 20 2022        A video of this presentation can be viewed on our YouTube Channel.
A Talk by Marilyn L. Geary
 
Its troglodyte residents ravaged by poverty and disease, its rock-walled churches all but forgotten,

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Monthly Program: George Daniel de Monfreid: Post-Impressionist Trailblazer & Gauguin’s Best Friend

Sunday, February 22, 2:00 pm
A Talk by Laure Latham

The French artist George Daniel de Monfreid (1856-1929) broke from mainstream impressionism early on, becoming a leading voice of the post-impressionist movement in his country.

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Monthly Program: Beyond Genealogy -Tips and Techniques for Researching and Presenting Family History Online

Sunday, January 16, 2:00 pm.
A Talk by Jim Gasperini

The internet can bring life to a tree of boxes listing who begat whom. Jim will show how – using The Colburn Chronicles,

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Monthly Program: The Four Wars That Shaped George Orwell, From the “Great” One to the “Cold” One

Sunday, December 19, 2:00 pm

A Talk by Peter Stansky

Peter Stansky will discuss how Orwell was shaped by his experiences of living through four wars: the First World War while he was growing up; the Spanish Civil War,

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Monthly Program: Exploring Indigenous California History

Sunday, November 21, 2:00 pm
Ann Harlow presented

An informal talk for Native American Heritage Month about my recent adventures in developing a group and blog site on “Honoring Indigenous Peoples,” formulating a land acknowledgment, paying Shuumi land tax,

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Monthly Program: Organized Crime, Big Business, and the Corruption of American Democracy

Sunday, October 12,  7:00 pm
Jonathan Marshall presented

Bay Area author Jonathan Marshall offers an original take on an old subject, political corruption, and challenges the myth of a past golden age of American democracy.

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Monthly Program: Out of the Fog: The Surprising Origin Story of the Cable Cars

Sunday, September 19,  2:00 pm
Taryn Edwards  presented

San Francisco’s historic cable cars have reopened! Beloved by tourists and locals alike, the cable cars are integral to the development, character, and culture of San Francisco. Join Taryn Edwards for a peek into her research about the cable car’s surprising origins and an update on the life of Andrew Smith Hallidie,

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Monthly Program: George Templeton Strong, the Civil War Sanitary Commission, and the Women’s Movement

Sunday, August 15,  2:00 pm, Monthly Program, via Zoom.
Christopher Webber presented

A Wall Street lawyer’s Civil War project to help preserve the Union inadvertently ended up empowering women and paving the way to health-care reform.

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Monthly Program: Solomon Schocken: Sonoma’s Preeminent Jewish Entrepreneur

Sunday, July 18,  2:00 pm
Peter Meyerhof presented

Solomon Schocken (1842-1932) was a Jewish immigrant who rose quickly to considerable significance in Sonoma and beyond, through his own business ventures and as a mentor to several future entrepreneurs.

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The Social Crusader: Berkeley Mayor J. Stitt Wilson’s Lifelong Quest for a Just Society

Thursday July 22 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM PDT

Author Stephen E. Barton introduced his new book, J. Stitt Wilson: Socialist, Christian, Mayor of Berkeley. Faced with the dramatic extremes of wealth and poverty that characterized Gilded Age America, Wilson (1868-1942) gave up a promising career in the ministry to advocate for “applied Christianity”—a democratic and socialist economy based on caring and cooperation that would embody Jesus’s message of love.

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Monthly Program: The Socialite and the Sea Captain – Louise Arner Boyd and Captain Bob Bartlett on the 1941 Arctic Voyage of the Effie M. Morrissey

Sunday, June 20,  2:00 pm
David Hirzel presented

A talk by David Hirzel on the prickly relationship between the socialite and the sea captain on his famous schooner Effie M. Morrissey. When war threatened U.S. neutrality in 1940,

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Monthly Program: Richard Hurley, “Campaigns of the California Volunteers”

Sunday, May 16,  2:00 pm, Monthly Program, via Zoom. Richard Hurley  presented:

Campaigns of the California Volunteers
 
This multimedia show chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of the nearly 17,000 young men who volunteered for the Union army during the Civil War. Moved by passionate patriotism,

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Monthly Program: David Goldberg, A Family History

Sunday, April 18,  2:00 pm,  Institute member David Goldberg on

A Family History
a photographic historical essay using the language of contemporary visual art

This essay sits at the space where family and history intersect.

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Monthly Program:  a special webinar

Sunday, March 21,  2:00 pm, 
Beth Wright (daughter of longtime IHS member Georgia Wright) will provide practical information and guidance to help aspiring authors succeed with their self-published books. The webinar will include tips on how to find and work with the most suitable editors and other book publishing professionals;

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Monthly Program: Lost Department Stores of San Francisco

Sunday, October 18, 2 pm, Monthly Program  via Zoom. Anne Evers Hitz presented:
Lost Department Stores of San Francisco: Six Bygone Stores That Defined an Era

In the late nineteenth century, San Francisco’s merchant princes built grand stores for a booming city,

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Revealing San Francisco’s Hidden 19th-Century Black History: A Tour of California Historical Society Artifacts

Saturday, September 26, 1:00 pm, Public Program  via Zoom – pre-registration required

Part of San Francisco History Days, this event is co-sponsored by the California Historical Society and the California African American Museum.

Join Susan D. Anderson,

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Monthly Program:  Black History in Marin County

Sunday, September 20,  Monthly Program:  Black History in Marin County: From the Spaniards to the Great Migration

IHS member Marilyn Geary presented unique stories of Black individuals who made their marks amid the biases of a predominantly white society.

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Monthly Program: Exploring the Links between Tourism and War

Sunday, July 26,  2 pm: Mills College history professor emeritus and 40-year Institute member Bert Gordon presented  “Exploring the Links between Tourism and War, based on the research for Bert’s most recent book, War Tourism: Second World War France from Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage,

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Harlem of the West: The Fillmore Jazz Era and Redevelopment

A lecture with Elizabeth Pepin Silva
Sunday, August 16 2020 at 2:00 PM
via Zoom

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 

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The Coit Tower Murals: Visual Feast, Political Controversy, Decades of Neglect, and a Spectacular Restoration

A lecture with Professor Emeritus Robert Cherny
Thursday, October 3, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Presidio Interfaith Chapel

The murals at Coit Tower were completed 85 years ago, in the early summer of 1934. They were, at the time, the largest art project funded by the New Deal, and they influenced other New Deal art across the country.

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Monthly Program – Museum Exhibit Talk and Tour

Monthly Program for May: Exhibit Talk and Tour at the Richmond Museum of History

Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 2 pm

Richmond Museum of History, 400 Nevin Avenue, Richmond

Prof. Oliver B. Pollak will give a talk and a tour of the exhibit:  Pioneers to the Present,

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South Asians in the South Bay

Friday, September 28  12:00 pm to 1:00 pm:  South Asians in the South Bay: The Privileged Immigrants – with Jeevan Zutshi

profile_jeevan2Offered in partnership with the Indo-American Community Federation and the Mechanics’ Institute, IACF founder Jeevan Zutshi will talk about the South Asian community that has developed in Fremont,

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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, February 12, 1:30 pm, via Zoom. Jim Gasperini and others 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, January 19, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom
The Who, What, When, Where, How and Why of Paraplegic Vivian Edward’s Transcontinental Goat Cart Odyssey, 1907-10
A Presentation by Oliver B. Pollak

1908 Postcard photograph of Captain Vivian Edwards in Kansas at a Santa Fe Trail monument

This story started to ferment around 2001. It flowered in 2022. It grew beyond the 1500 words permitted by the first contemplated publication. It stood at 5400 words by January 10, 2023, without footnotes. eBay provided an image cache and hundreds of digitized American newspapers followed how a man born in Iowa in 1856 was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of four and cast a transcontinental image somewhat akin to the modern accomplishment of the Paralympics. The keys to his success were a sense of independence, the invention of a cart pulled by four goats, and the indulgence of a welcoming audience, especially children. From 1888 to 1916 (8 years after his death) there was talk about publishing a book of his travels. This presentation is not that book, but the best that can be done over one hundred years later. Oliver B. Pollak retired in 2012 from the academic world of the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he taught since 1974. He retired from practicing law in 2016. He and his wife Karen left Omaha in October 2016 and settled in Richmond where they have the riches of their two sons, grandchildren, pleasant weather, the Bay Trail, museums and libraries, cuisine and wine country, a view of Mount Tamalpais, the internet, old and new friends, and visitors. His pen and keyboard cannot be stilled as ideas rush in. This story is designed to display methodology, technology, Disability History, and making a living under very challenging circumstances. It is inspiring and has elements of a Greek Tragedy.
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:

Chris Webber writes: “There’s a new hymnal out there for folk who like to sing—and for people who care about justice and peace. World Library Publications (a division of GIA Publications) has published my collection of over a hundred hymns titled Songs of Justice, Peace, and Love: The Sharon Hymnal. Set to music by contemporary composers, as well as to traditional and familiar tunes, the texts center on a wide range of subjects from Advent to Easter as well as hunger and homelessness.

In May Joe C. Miller gave his talk on women’s suffrage to the Canadian Women’s Club of San Francisco, “Wild Women Suffragists and their Reputation as Sex Radicals. “It was well received,” he writes. Joe has also developed a new presentation: “How Women’s Clubs Lost Their Moral Authority When Women Got the Vote.” He posits that during the heyday of American women’s clubs, 1890 to 1920, “whenever women’s clubs lobbied for the creation of parks, schools, libraries, or safe water supplies, people understood that they were doing it for the public good, whereas politicians and businessmen were often suspected of having selfish motives.” Joe intends to give the new talk to other groups. (He is among several speakers and performers listed on an interesting website: NationalWomensHistoryAlliance.org/California/.) Joe concluded his report with his appreciation of the financial support (mini-grants) he has received from the Institute.

Harvey Schwartz has a new book coming out this fall entitled Labor Under Siege: Big Bob McEllrath and the ILWU’s Fight for Organized Labor in an Anti-Union Era (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2022). Harvey and his coauthor Ronald E. Magden have written compelling stories and found forceful voices which “capture a tenacious union in transition. Big Bob—six-foot-four Robert McEllrath’s waterfront handle—was heralded for his powerful speaking style, charisma, unifying vision, and negotiating prowess. President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) for twelve eventful years, McEllrath retired in 2018 after nearly forty years as a union officer. More than just a telling of a storied career, Labor under Siege explores how the influential union persisted in an era when the US labor movement was under attack and seemingly in retreat.” (From the publisher’s flier describing the book.)

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 ill-considered 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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info@instituteforhistoricalstudy.org

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