Find out more about the Institute for Historical Study and its members by reading our quarterly newsletter. Follow the links to current and past editions. Each issue includes a president’s message, study group reports, and member news, along with the special features listed below for recent issues. (WIP indicates a report on a Work-in-Progress meeting, now called a Monthly Program; book reviews are of books by Institute members only.)

Summer 2020

“The Perils of Predatory Journals” by Carol Sicherman
Monthly Program: ““Bio-Bibliography—Readings and Film about Word War I that Moved Me” by Oliver Pollack
Pandemic Times (“stories in the general area of ‘living during a historic moment'”) by Joanne Lafler, Oliver Pollak, Leslie Friedman, Margaret Simmons, Peter Mellini, Bonnie Portnoy, and Pamela Peirce 

Spring 2020
“History Re-imaged” by Richard Robbins
Annual Meeting:  presentations by Pam Peirce, Kevin Knaus and Tim Welsh
Monthly Program: “Wild Women Suffragists and Their Reputation as Sex Radicals” by Joe Miller
“Remembering Georgia Wright” by Joanne Lafler, Jody Offer, Bonda Lewis, Bert Gordon, Peter Mellini, David Chadwick and Maria Sakovich
In Memoriam: Carroll Winslow Brentano
Book Review: “Gold Rush Bishop: William Ingraham Kip, First Episcopal Bishop of California and His Family” by Mary Judith Robinson, reviewed by Leslie Friedman

Winter 2020
“Tracing the Truth, Part III: – Planning Your Visit to an Archive or Library” by Taryn Edwards
Monthly Program:
“The Impact of Religion on Sex from the Hittites to Augustine” (Dan Kohanski)
In Memoriam: Georgia Wright
Special Event: “Historical Treasures of Sacramento Revealed”

Fall 2019
“Urban Legend or Not: The Questionable Circumstances Surrounding the Death of a President in 1920s-era San Francisco – Part 2” by Monika Trobits
Monthly Programs:
“Fire in the Mind” (Jim Gasperini)
Potluck and Program: video “Three English Cathedrals: Norwich, Lincoln, Wells” (Georgia Wright)
“Reminiscing about a Forty-year Journey to Recover the Debates on the Woman Question in France, 1400-1920” (Karen Offen)
Book Reviews:
The Dancer’s Garden by Leslie Friedman (Peter Stansky)
Scholars Without Walls: A History of the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum 1983-2018 by Lucy Brusic, Evelyn Klein, and Mike Woolsey (Oliver Pollak)

Summer 2019
“Urban Legend or Not: The Questionable Circumstances Surrounding the Death of a President in 1920s-era San Francisco” by Monika Trobits
Monthly Programs:
“Pioneers to the Present: The Jews of Richmond and Contra Costa County” (Oliver Pollak)
“Jenny in the World” (Bonda Lewis)
In Memoriam: Harry C. Meserve
Book Review: The Woman Question in France, 1400-1870 and Debating the Woman Question in the French Third Republic, 1870-1920 by Karen Offen (Lyn Reese)

Spring 2019
“Tracing the Truth: Adventures in Historical Research Online and In-Person” by Taryn Edwards (part 2)
Monthly Programs:
“Introducing Big History” (Ross Maxwell)
“Waves of Beans” (Monika Trobits)
“The Oratory of Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr.”    (Chris Webber)
Book Review: Overtaken by the Night: One Russian’s Journey through Peace, War, Revolution, and Terror by Richard G. Robbins Jr.

Winter 2019
“Tracing the Truth: Adventures in Historical Research Online and In-Person” by Taryn Edwards
Monthly Program: “Beloved Freedom: Secret on the Capitol Dome” (Katya Miller)
World History Group: The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease, and the End of an Empire by Kyle Harper
In Memoriam: Autumn Stanley
In Memoriam: Ellen Huppert
Book Review: The Sweet Life: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch, compiled and edited by Dot Brovarney

Fall 2018
David Rosen, U.S. Coast Guard Historian
“A May Walk in Rome: How Spending Two Weeks at the American Academy Made Me Consider Rewriting My Novel” (Stephanie McCoy)
Play Readers: King Charles III by Mike Bartlett
Public Event: “Storms, Droughts, Floods: Two Classic Documentary Films”
Book Review: Sea and Sky: Community Art in Seward, Mural Capital of Alaska by Jacquelin Pels

Summer 2018
Essay: “Timepieces Hidden in Plain Sight” by Steve Sodokoff
WIP: “Leonard Woolf: Bloomsbury Socialist” by Peter Stansky
Program: “Niles, California: Our First Official ‘Monthly Program”
Program: “Conversation with History Publishers Jackie Pels and Malcolm Margolin”
Public Event: “The Making of An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846– 1873” (Benjamin Madley)
Medieval Studies: “Ivory Vikings: the Mystery of the Most Famous Chessmen in the World and the Woman Who Made Them” by Nancy Marie Brown
Play Readers: “Cressida,” by Nicholas Wright and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson
In Memoriam: Kathleen Casey

Spring 2018
Essay: “Driving with Dictators” by Oliver B. Pollak
WIP: “Political Correctness in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)” (Charles Sullivan)
WIP: “The Filibusterers and Freebooters of California” (Neil Dukas)
WIP: “From Vigilance in Early San Francisco to the 1859 Duel” (Monica Trobits)
Panel Discussions: “The Future of the Past in the Digital Age, 1.0 and 2.0”
Play Readers: “Longitude” by Arnold Wesker

Winter 2018
Essay: “Still Enduring Vietnam” by Leslie Friedman
Russian Revolution Centennial: Report on Public Program
WIP: Churchill and Contemporary British Historians: Effacing History to Support Politics (Richard Raack)
Play Readers: Hugh Whitmore’s Breaking the Code
Medieval Studies: Ellen Huppert on Genghis Khan
Minigrant Reports: Cathy Robbins, Margaretta Mitchell

Fall 2017
Essay: “Closet Archaeology: History under the Floorboards” by Carol Sicherman
WIP: The Unveiling of Andrew Smith Hallidie (Taryn Edwards)
Play Readers: Laurence Housman, Collaborators, and John Hodge, Victoria Regina
Medieval Studies: Lyn Reese on Jerusalem, 1000–1400
In Memoriam: Linda Larson Boston, Kevin Starr

Summer 2017
Essay: “Just When You Thought You’d Finished Your Research” by Ellen Huppert
Book Review: Edward Upward: Art and Life by Peter Stansky
“In Memoriam: Jules Becker” by Peter Mellini and John Rusk
Medieval Studies: John Rusk on Mayan civilization

Spring 2017
Essay: “English Novelist Presages Donald Trump 150 Years Ago” by Jody Offer (George Eliot, Felix Holt, the Radical)
Annual Meeting Program: “Challenges on Writing the Biographies of Lesser Known People”
Program: “Tom Mooney Revidivus—23 Years in California and International History, 1916 – 1939”
WIP: The Swiss-Italian Connection: Linking West Marin Dairy Ranchers to Their Alpine Roots (Marilyn Geary)
Play Readers: Howard Benton’s Drawing the Line

Winter 2017
Minigrant Report by Neal Dukas (Hawaiian military history)
Public Program: “Where Do Archives Come From?”
“Back to the Gold Country” by Maria Sakovich with contributions by Patti Starr Page, Ron Forsell and Marilyn Geary
Play Readers: Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Jefferson’s Garden
“Remembering State Historian Kevin Starr” by Linda Larson Boston
Book Review: Separate But Equal: Individual and Community since the Enlightenment by Richard Herr

Fall 2016
Essay: “Recommending a Book to Institute Members” by Ellen Huppert (Danielle Allen, Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality)
Reports on day trip to San Francisco Presidio and weekend trip to Amador County
Writers: Charles Sullivan, “Making History: Reconstructing the Elizabethan Quest for the ‘Northwest Passage’”; Carol Sicherman, article about a collection of postcards sent to Matylda Schiff Sicherman in the years just before, during, and after World War I.
Play Readers: Ernest Hemingway’s The Fifth Column;  Sean O’Casey’s The Plough and the Stars

Summer 2016
Essay: “Serendipity, Cyberspace, and the Tactility of Documents” by Carol Sicherman
WIP: When Governments Control History (Richard Raack)
WIP: Russian Choral Music in 1920s and 1930s San Francisco: An Example of Cultural Sharing (Maria Sakovich)
WIP: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in an International Context (Richard Herr)

Spring 2016
Essay: “Slander Sells” by Judith Offer
Annual Meeting talks: Charles Sullivan, Phyllis Grilikhes-Maxwell, David Hirzel, Lori Hart Beninger
Book Review: Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Workers’ Oral History by Harvey Schwartz

Winter 2016
Essay: “The Making of a Geek” by Cathy Robbins
WIP: Jenny Again: Bringing Her Home and Loosing Her on the World (Bonda Lewis)
Book Review: Santa Zanni by Steven Levi

Fall 2015
Essay:  “Learning History Through the Soles of My Feet” by Joanne Lafler
WIP: A New Theory about the Location of the Sonoma Mission Cemetery (Peter Meyerhof)
WIP: Ghost Ship: The Manila Galleon San Felipe of 1576 (Edward Von der Porten)
WIP: “Art Capital of the West”: Real and Imagined Art Museums and Galleries in Berkeley (Ann Harlow)

Summer 2015
Essay: “The Independent Historian and the Question of ‘Academic’ Rigor” by Neil Bernard Dukas
WIP: Crime in San Francisco (Paul Drexler)
WIP: How the International Women’s Organizations and their Allied Affiliates “Entered” the War, 1914-15 (Karen Offen)
Minigrant Report: The Film Fire Ruin Renewal (Margaretta K. Mitchell)

Spring 2015
Essay: “Parachuting into the 21st Century” by Louis Trager
Annual Meeting talks: Sue Mote, Margaret Simmons, Liz Vasile, Edward Von der Porten
WIP: Who Could “Read” Sculpture on French Gothic Portals? (Georgia Wright)
WIP: Writing African History as an Outsider Invited Inside (Carol Sicherman)

Winter 2015
Essay: “Reflections on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century” by Ellen Huppert

Fall 2014
Essay: “A Singular Adventure in Paris” by Georgia Wright
WIP: The She-Novelist in Venice: The Life and Death of Constance Fenimore Woolson (Stephanie McCoy)
WIP: Vladimir Dzhunkovsky’s Memory Palace: The Strange Case of his Memoir and Archive (Richard Robbins)
WIP: Torrid Splendor: Finding Calabria (Cathy Robbins)

Summer 2014
Essay: “Ephemeral Research” by Robert Chandler
WIP: The Huppert Family from Poland to California by Way of Austria, Czechoslovakia, England, France, and Cuba (Ellen Huppert)
Report on visit to World War I art exhibition at St. Mary’s College

Spring 2014
Interview with Member Jeanne Farr McDonnell
Annual Meeting Report
WIP: Dragon of the Waldorf: Arthur J. Goldsmith, the Mid-century Interventionists, and the Civil War of the American Elites (Louis Trager)
WIP: From the Anschluss to May 1939: More Background on How the War Came (It wasn’t as you likely have read it.) (Richard Raack)
Report on visit to California Historical Society Juana Briones exhibition
Report on visit to History Museum of Los Gatos
Book Review: Robert Chandler, San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown

2004  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010

2011 2012  2013

1979-1983  (more to come)

Upcoming Events

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

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

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, history curator of the California African American Museum, for a talk and tour of artifacts that reveal the hidden history of San Francisco’s 19th-century African American past. Anderson’s talk begins with the Gold Rush and weaves the state’s raucous beginnings into the national narrative.

The photographs, manuscripts, and publications in this presentation allow viewers to experience the urgency of early campaigns for civil rights and the fervent hopes of the African American community. Learn about the beloved ship’s captain who has a street named for him in West Oakland. Hear a Civil War poem by a distinguished Black poet and friend of John Brown proclaimed in public in 1864 San Francisco. See court documents of the lawsuit brought to challenge discrimination on streetcars 90 years before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

This presentation proves that California history is more challenging, complicated, and fascinating than we’ve been taught. Hosted and co-sponsored by the Institute for Historical Study, co-sponosred by the California Historical Society and the California African American Museum.

This event is free but pre-registration is required.

Sunday, October 11, 1:30 pm, Writers Group  via Zoom. Cathy Robbins will present.

Sunday, October 18, 2 pm, Monthly Program  via Zoom. Anne Evers Hitz will present:

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, each with its niche. For the eager clientele, a trip downtown meant dressing up — hats, gloves, and stockings required — and going to Blum's for Coffee Crunch Cake, or Townsend's for creamed spinach. The I. Magnin empire catered to a selective upper-class clientele, while middle-class shoppers loved the Emporium department store, with its Bargain Basement and Santa for the kids. Gump's defined good taste; the City of Paris satisfied desires for anything French; and edgy, youth-oriented Joseph Magnin ensnared the younger shoppers with the latest trends. Drawing on the memories of former employees and native San FranciscansAnne looks back at the strong, colorful personalities who created six major stores — including Gump's (revived recently, greatly reduced) and White House — that defined shopping in San Francisco before the eras of big-box stores and the Internet. 

Anne Evers Hitzis an IHS member and proud fifth-generation San Franciscan with a longstanding interest in The City's history and lore. She is the author of Emporium Department Store (Arcadia, 2014), San Francisco's Ferry Building (Arcadia, 2017), and Lost Department Stores of San Francisco: Six Bygone Stores That Defined an Era (The History Press, 2020)She is a guide at the Ferry Building for City Guides, a group of local volunteers who give free walking tours of San Francisco. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Anne is a writer, editor, and project manager who has had her own communications consulting firm in San Francisco for over 25 years. She worked as publicity director for the University of California Press and as an editorial assistant at the publishers Oxford University Press and Farrar, Straus & Giroux in New York. Anne received an IHS mini-grant to assist in the preparation of her latest book.



40th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon has been postponed due to the COVID-19 epidemic, probably until the fall.