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. naval base on the West Coast) and from various ships including the USS San Francisco, paintings of sea battles in the War of 1812, a periscope, a Russian cannon, and an exhibit about a Vallejo woman dancer.

Following lunch in Old Town and a walk past numerous historic buildings, we arrived at the McCune Room and browsed around the collection of rare books and printing-related objects, assembled by local physician Donovan McCune and donated to the city of Vallejo in the 1960s.  Judith Hilburg, President of the McCune Committee, introduced the collection and showed us some of their finest incunables (books printed before 1500) and other treasures.

Institute member Peter Meyerhof gave an illustrated talk about José de la Rosa and California’s first printing press. The Ramage press arrived in Monterey in 1834 and was used by a series of governing authorities, including Mariano Vallejo, to issue proclamations and other printed information (and misinformation, in the case of an already obsolete Spanish book of home remedies).  Although the name Agustín Zamorano is usually associated with the press, Peter’s research has revealed that de la Rosa was its main user, both in Monterey (spelled Monterrey in those days) and in Sonoma, where he worked for General Vallejo in a number of capacities.

We then heard a talk about a Victorian-era home entertainment called toy theater or paper theater and a project the McCune Collection is developing to further explore printing history. Michael and Valerie Nelson of Magical Moonshine Theater are using this form of puppetry to develop a performance based on William Morris’s illustrations of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in the “masterpiece of publishing” known as the Kelmscott Chaucer. We also had the opportunity to peruse a display of other recent examples of toy theater, often based on illustrated children’s books but not exclusively aimed at children.

You can learn more about the McCune Collection at  mccunecollection.org, the puppeteers at magicalmoonshine.org, and the Vallejo Museum at vallejomuseum.org.


California and the West Events

Summer 2019: Reading of Judith Offer's play, Scenes from the Life of Julia Morgan
Saturday, July 27, 10:30 a.m.
Berkeley History Center
Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center St., Berkeley (1-1/2 blocks from Downtown Berkeley BART)

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, August 20, 1 pm:  We will finish The Madness of George III by Alan Bennett.

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, August 11,  1:30 pm, at the home of Jim Gasperini in Kensington. Dan Kohanski will present a chapter from his work, a secular review of the history of religion.

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

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.”

New Members, Fall 2018:

Dana Bernstein has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin and has taught in several lecturer/adjunct positions at the University of San Francisco, San Francisco State, Pepperdine, and Loyola Marymount University among others. Her research topic has been the criminal code in Colonial India. A new career in public history is her aim.

Susan Nuernberg, retired professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, is a Jack London scholar and editor of three books and author of several articles on the California writer. She is currently working on a scholarly biography of Charmian Kittredge London, Jack London’s second wife and curator of his legend.

Amy Elizabeth Robinson’s Ph.D. is from Stanford University in the history of modern Britain and the British Empire. She is currently teaching a course at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Sonoma State and will be teaching another in the history department at Stanford: “Borders and Migration in the British Empire.” Amy is also revising her dissertation, “British Colonial Migration, Repatriation, and Relief, 1880-1910,” for a book.

Other Member News:

One of Gretta Mitchell’s photographs was included in the latest exhibition at Scott Nichols Gallery in San Francisco, “Women of the West.” “As you may know,” she writes, “I am focusing on my fine art work now and am producing small “legacy” books of various bodies of work from many years. The first one was Iconographies in 2015 and the second was Island Dreams in 2017. I’m working on gathering images for the next few books!”

Peter Meyerhof gave a presentation to the Sonoma/Petaluma State Historic Parks Association on September 20 entitled “General Vallejo’s Printing Press and Its Significance in California History.” This press, better known as the Zamorano Press, was brought from Monterey to Sonoma in 1837 and used to publish a variety of items including California’s first medically-related imprint. Peter provided evidence that the actual printer in both Monterey and Sonoma was not Zamorano but Jose de la Rosa.

After a 20-year research and writing journey, member Bonnie Portnoy has completed her manuscript, “The Man Beneath the Paint,” an art book and biography of California Impressionist Tilden Daken (1876-1935), “the grandfather I never knew.” She is now compiling a book proposal for submission to agents and publishers, a daunting but necessary requirement for non-fiction writers in today’s challenging publishing environment (unless you happen to be Hillary Clinton, Bob Woodward, or the likes). In 2019 Bonnie will be presenting an illustrated talk on her “talented, prolific, and adventurous artist” to Institute members (date pending). And for members looking to market their books or works-in-progress on social media, Bonnie has received tremendous response to her posts (images and stories) on targeted Facebook groups containing 20,000 or more members, such as “California History.” In the meantime, learn about the artist at www.tildendaken.com.

Jeanne Farr McDonnell reports that on October 18th, the Los Altos History Museum opens its exhibit “Inspired by Juana: La Doña de la Frontera,” based on her book, Juana Briones of 19th Century California. It will be the first bilingual exhibition offered by the Museum, and the first incorporating student projects. The exhibit runs through March 31, 2019.

 

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

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