What We Do

See our What’s New page for upcoming events.

Monthly Programs: In these Institute-wide gatherings, members share their work and, if desired, receive feedback. Presentations might include a paper to be delivered at a conference, an outline of a longer work, a draft of a chapter or article, a performance, a rough cut of a video, or even an idea looking for a format. (See more information here. For examples of what members have been working on, see Member Profiles and News.)

Study groups play an important role. We encourage lively, informal discussions. Each group has a coordinator, and meetings are held in members’ homes on a rotating basis. Members are welcome to form new groups according to their needs and interests.

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Seminars and conferences: On occasion, the Institute mounts seminars for its members, taught by one or several members or by invited speakers. We have sponsored and co-sponsored conferences of independent scholars, and we have assisted members in forming panels for history conferences.

Other member events:  We also organize special meetings, such as workshops on topics like publishing, orientations to various libraries and archives, and tours of places of historical interest. We have an annual potluck in the fall and an annual business meeting, with lunch and a program, in February.

Public Programs

Thursday, July 22 2021,  7:00 pm, Public Program, via Zoom. Member Stephen E. Barton will introduce his new book, J. Stitt Wilson: Socialist, Christian, Mayor of Berkeley.

Steven Barton

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. His varied efforts included socialist evangelism in the Midwest, California and Great Britain; building an alliance between the Socialist Party and the labor movement in his campaigns for governor, mayor and Congress, and supporting Upton Sinclair’s End Poverty in California campaign within the Democratic Party. He and his family became an integral part of “Bohemian Berkeley,” and although his sons all died young, his daughters became socialists, feminists and stars of stage and screen. This will be an online event on Zoom; the link will be sent to those who register here. The event is cosponsored by the Berkeley Historical Study.
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...


Many of our members have received mini-grants from the Institute in aid of their history research. There is an annual deadline in the fall. Only Institute members are eligible. For more information, see Information for Mini-Grant Applicants. Download the application form here.