Report on Los Gatos Field Trip

Forbes_Mill_ca_1900

Forbes Mill, Los Gatos, ca. 1900

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. We learned about other tidbits of Los Gatos history, including that it became a kind of health resort because the air was considered good for people with asthma and lung diseases. The town had a “sketchy” reputation in the late nineteenth century and considered local prohibition of alcohol in 1906, but the measure was defeated. The website historylosgatos.org has a large archive of historic photographs and other information about the town.

We then toured the temporary exhibition, “American Bohemia: The Cats Estate in Los Gatos.” Photographs, memorabilia, a time line, home movies, and other materials told the story of Sara Bard Field and Charles Erskine Scott Wood, who bought the property in 1919 and moved there full time in 1925.

Several of us stayed in Los Gatos for dinner and an evening program sponsored by the museum. The guest speakers were Dona Munker of New York, who is writing a book, Sara and Erskine, An American Romance, and Tim Barnes of Portland, an expert on C.E.S. Wood. They made it clear that both Wood and Field were remarkable and controversial individuals. Their accomplishments and interests were too numerous to go into here, but each has an article in Wikipedia. Notable visitors to The Cats included Ansel Adams, Benny Bufano, Bennett Cerf, Charlie Chaplin, Robinson Jeffers, Eleanor Roosevelt, Carl Sandberg, John Steinbeck, and Lincoln Steffens.


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, December 10, 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, November 19, 2:00 pm, Monthly Program via Zoom.
Writing Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Leader"
A presentation by Robert Cherny
The iconic leader of one of America's most powerful unions, Harry Bridges put an indelible stamp on the twentieth century labor movement. Robert Cherny's monumental biography tells the life story of the figure who built the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) into a labor powerhouse that still represents almost 30,000 workers. Drawing on personal interviews with Bridges and years of exhaustive research, Bob places an extraordinary individual and the ILWU within the epic history of twentieth-century labor radicalism.
Bob Cherny, professor emeritus of history at San Francisco State University, began researching Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Leader in 1985. He thought he'd be able to complete the biography in a couple of years. The book was finally in print last November. Bob will talk about the complications he encountered in writing the book and explain why it took so long for the book to come to completion.
You are welcome to invite friends and colleagues to attend
We need a volunteer to write a short report on the presentation for the newsletter. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the program coordinator (Dan Kohanski).
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:

Ann Harlow gave an illustrated talk to San Francisco History Association members on June 27 on "Kissing Cousins: The Artistic Lives of San Francisco’s Albert M. Bender and Anne M. Bremer.
Rob Robbins wrote with more sad news. “Those who enjoyed Marina Oborotova’s fine presentation
'The Joy of Life: Impressionists and Post-Impressionists in Russia,' will be saddened to learn that she died at the end of February 2023. The Institute board of directors awarded Marina a year’s membership as compensation for her talk and in the hopes of her continued participation. Unfortunately, this was not to be.”
Deanna Paoli Gumina recently joined the Institute, for a second time, so she is not quite a new member. She is the author of The Italians of San Francisco 1850 to 1930/Gl’Italiani di San Francisco (1985), written in English on one side with the Italian translation opposite. It was well received, followed by four printings. For this work Deanna earned the “Medaglia d’Ore” in Lucca, Italy. Over the years, she has written about various local Italo-American figures such as Andrea Sbarboro, as well as on Italian cuisine
and San Francisco’s Italian restaurants (including “A Toast To Paoli’s Restaurant”), fishermen of San Francisco Bay, and the Italian variety theater. She is currently writing an article on the Italian enemy aliens in San Francisco. She has also written about San Franciscans Lillie Hitchcock Coit, illustrator and artist Ernest Peixotto, and writer Kathleen Norris, including the biography, A Woman of Certain Importance. Deanna’s latest research topic is home economics in San Francisco private and public schools up to the 1960s. Deanna is retired as a learning specialist working with disabled children and adults.
In January Elizabeth Thacker-Estrada participated in a program, sponsored by the First Ladies Association for Research and Education (FLARE), about Julia Gardiner Tyler (1820-1889), the second wife of President John Tyler and the first lady of the United States (June 26, 1844 -March 4, 1845). Liz delivered an introduction to the era of Julia Tyler and moderated the question-and-answer session that
followed the presentation, “The First Rose of Texas was the ‘Rose of Long Island.’”
Chris Webber announced his latest publishing venture: The Beowulf Trilogy, published by Open Road Media. In this book Chris shares his own translation of the original epic and also answers the question of what happens next, with two epic poems of his own. He writes: “In ‘Beyond Beowulf,’ the Geats welcome a new leader, Wiglaf, the young warrior who aided Beowulf in his encounter with the dragon. He helps the tribe search for a new home while contending with threats from storms, trolls, and the Saxon army. Then, in ‘Yrfa’s Tale,’ the warrior’s viewpoint gives way to the perspective of Wiglaf’s wife and family, and the
emotional toll of their struggle.”
Steve Levi writes that his “in-the-weeds book” on the building of the Alaska Railroad, A Rat’s Nest of Rails, will be out soon. “That the Alaska Railroad, the only government-funded railway in American history, was ever built is astonishing. It was constructed over the most treacherous terrain in the world during the most violent political era in US history. The work force included anarchists, Bolsheviks, socialists, syndicalists, and labor union organizers. Construction took place in the midst of the
Great War, Spanish influenza, Russian Revolution, and the Great Red Scare; US troops were sent to Siberia to keep Russian socialism from our shore, and Japan was gobbling up colonies from Southeast Asia to
Siberia.” An audio visual preview of the book can be found on YouTube.

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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