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.

        study-groups-ca-west        study-groups-hist-readers        study-groups-writers

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

Sunday, August 16, 2:00 pm, Public Program: Elizabeth Pepin Silva will discuss the glory and destruction of San Francisco's Fillmore District of the mid-20th century, Harlem of the West: The Fillmore Jazz Era and Redevelopment 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 and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism at San Francisco State University. Elizabeth was a staff producer at KQED-TV, where most recently she was series producer of "Truly CA," featuring documentaries about the Golden State. She wrote the book Harlem of the West -- the San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era. A winner of film-festival awards and five Emmys, she lives in Ventura County. Please register soon via the event ticking site Eventbrite. Registration is free. The capacity of the Zoom meeting is limited, and 1,400 people who signed up for a San Francisco Public Library presentation by Ms. Silva had to be turned away.
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.