Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: An Author Talk with Miriam Pawel

Image courtesy of
Bloomsbury Publishing
On Saturday, April 26, the San Francisco History Center and the International Center of the San Francisco Public Library are pleased to present acclaimed author Miriam Pawel discussing her new book The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography, the first comprehensive biography of the country's most significant Latino leader.

Miriam Pawel will be speaking at 4:30 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room, Main Library, Lower Level.


As a special treat, Miriam Pawel agreed to guest blog for "What's On the 6th Floor?"

The Bay Area has numerous significant ties to Cesar Chavez and was critical to the farm worker movement in many ways, at many times. Volunteers flocked to Delano when the grape strike began in 1965, and the Bay Area became a hub of the grape boycott and a source of much financial support. San Francisco was also the scene of memorable moments both at the height of the movement and in its later, waning years.

Cesar Chavez disliked public speaking and was not particularly eloquent. But on Nov. 9, 1984, he delivered what would become one of his most memorable addresses, to a Commonwealth Club lunch at the Sheraton Palace hotel.
Cesar Chavez at the Commonwealth Club
(with Michael G.W. Lee who introduced him; image courtesy of Michael Lee)
Ronald Reagan had just been re-elected president in a landslide. The United Farm Workers union that Chavez had founded two decades earlier had lost most of its contracts and was in retreat from the fields. His speech amounted to a eulogy for his own union.
He enumerated the severe problems still facing farmworkers. But then he waved that aside, pointing to a greater truth: Farmworkers had shown that poor people, through collective action, could overcome the most daunting odds – and that lesson would live on in cities across the country. “The message was clear,” he said. “If it could happen in the fields, it could happen anywhere … The coming of our union signaled the start of great changes among Hispanics.”
Chavez, next to Teatro Campesino founder Luis Valdez, singing De Colores at a Friday night meeting in 1966 (courtesy of John Kouns farmworkermovement.us)

Chavez was a visionary, often ahead of his times, and few would have uttered the prophetic words he delivered almost three decades ago. Within 30 years, he said, the cities of California would be run by farmworkers, their children, and their grandchildren: “We have looked into the future, and the future is ours.”

Miriam Pawel is the author of The Crusades of Cesar Chavez: A Biography and The Union of Their Dreams: Power, Hope and Struggle in Cesar Chavez's Farm Worker Movement. She has recently been interviewed on "Your Call" on KALW Radio and on the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It Came From the (Photo) Morgue!: Tax Day is for the Birds

It's Tax Day - hope you're expecting a refund just like Jo-Jo Kay the parakeet!

June 23, 1955 - Washington, D.C.
T. Coleman Andrews, Commissioner of Internal Revenue is shown discussing an income tax refund with Jo-Jo Kay, a parakeet which paid $20.50 in income taxes and $12.30 Social Security last year. Jo-Jo earned $615 in salary from an Atlanta, Ga., jewelry co., of which he had $25 in deductible traveling expenses and a $1 charitable contribution, dropping his taxable income to $589 or less than the $600 personal exemption. Jo-Jo wants his refund and refused to utter any of the 60 words in his vocabulary and left all his talking to his attorney.
[P16 ANDREWS, T.COLEMAN]

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The San Francisco Public Library owns the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper that covered the time period from the 1920s to 1965. Much of the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection comes from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue. However, the morgue also includes statewide, national, and international subjects and people that have not been digitized or cataloged. When researchers order scans from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue,selections are cataloged and added to the online database.

Looking for a historical photograph of San Francisco? Try our online database first. Not there? Come visit us at the Photo Desk of the San Francisco History Center, located on the sixth floor at the Main Library. The Photo Desk hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. You may also request photographs from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

San Francisco Public Library on Historypin

Fun fact: as of today, there are 794 pinned images on the San Francisco Public Library's Historypin channel.




San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection partnered with Historypin in honor of the Year of the Bay project. Over the year, the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection uploaded hundreds of images. The first batch of 500 images were all 1964 photographs taken by local photographer Alan J. Canterbury. The batch of images kicked off the beta project History Mysteries. The selection of mysteries had the location since OldSF project mapped the images. The mystery to solve was applying the overlay to the old photos onto the current Street View and see how these locations look today (or close to it). Then we started uploading images by neighborhood - including Bernal Heights and by theme with Sourdough & Rye. Users with a Historpin account can make comments and suggestions about dates, locations and street view. Social media was used to funnel in tweets and Facebook comments. Here's our most viewed pinned photo - in which the mystery was the date of the photograph.



More partnerships blossomed in 2014 with San Francisco Public Library and Historypin's Year of the Bay contributing to The Bold Italic with the focus on microhoods Dogpatch and Divisadero Street.

Here are the basics to solve some History Mysteries:
  1. Go to yearofthebay.org and at the top right, log in with your Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. If you don’t have a Historypin account, create one for free!
  2. Back at www.yearofthebay.org, scroll down until you see the Mysteries Tab (default).
  3. On the left side, select Show me: Unsolved mysteries (also the default), and scroll down the list of Western Addition mysteries (among others). If you want to see mysteries that other people have already commented on, click Show Me: Under investigation on the left bar.
  4. Choose a photo from the list you want to help solve, and press Solve.
  5. Depending on what kind of mystery it is, the interface will prompt you to either enter a new date, find a new location, or overlay a photo onto Street View. Once you make your suggestion, you will be able to enter in why you’ve made the choice you have.
  6. That’s it!  Because this is a beta tool (which is to say we’re still working on it to make it better), if anything weird happens, feel free to comment on this blog post, or fill out this easy form to let us know what happened.
Anyone can pin photos and share stories on Historypin. There are easy instructions on how to start a personal channel and begin pinning.

This Thursday, April 10, please join us in the Main Library's new DIGI Center to learn more about how to pin photos. Project Officer for Year of the Bay Kerri Young will run the program which begins at 6:30pm.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

No Fooling! It's the Annual Wit & Humor Exhibition







You Don’t Say! Wordless Cartoons from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor examines the art of cartooning without words. Sometimes referred to as picture stories, pantomimes, captionless cartoons, and more commonly, cartoons without words, the characters depicted remain silent--no speech balloons and thought clouds interfere with the cartoon itself--ensuring that the joke or punch line is universally understood. A centuries-old art form, the cartoon without words essentially evolved out of the eighteenth century caricature. In the nineteenth century, this form of visual expression was refined in both the cartoon and comic strip formats. Creating this pantomime world are the cartoon artists whose work continues to influence and delight readers, contemporary cartoonists, and scholars around the world.

This exhibition draws on the Library’s collection of cartoon masters from the eighteenth through the twenty-first centuries, their own comic influences as well as their contemporaries. Viewers may recognize some cartoonists and learn about the work of others for the first time. On display are the published works of A.B. Frost, H.M. Bateman, Otto Soglow ("The Little King"), Marge ("Little Lulu"), Mik ("Ferd'nand"), e.o. plauen ("Vater und Sohn"), George Baker ("The Sad Sack"), Antonio Prohias ("Spy vs. Spy"), Don Martin ("Mad's maddest artist"), and many more. On view in the Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library, through May 31.

The Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor (SCOWAH) is the happy result of the biblio-adventures of one man, Nat Schmulowitz--lawyer, library commissioner, and humanist—who collected humor from around the world. One aspect of his collecting habit included the search for cartoons without words; SCOWAH is a rich source of the classic examples of this comic style. On April 1, 1947, as a measure of his interest in the Library, Mr. Schmulowitz presented ninety-three jest books, including an edition of the Hundred Merry Tales, the first step toward the establishment of a research collection of wit and humor.
 
 


 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

History Expo at the Old Mint: We WERE There!

Lisa and Gary at the APHA/Book Arts & Special Collections table

This year for the first time, Book Arts & Special Collections joined the SF History Center at the Old Mint to celebrate San Francisco history at the SF History Expo. We partnered with APHA NorCal (the American Printing History Association) and brought along our little Golding Official printing press.


Rose printing for the first time

All day long, on both Saturday and Sunday, people of all ages tried their hand at letterpress printing and everyone enjoyed the experience.  

Rosa and Eli printing for the very first time
We gathered names for our mailing list, collected ideas for how to capture the history of San Francisco's printing industry, and mostly just couldn't stop talking with all the history buffs. It was amazing how many people mentioned studying letterpress printing at their junior or high school: Presidio Middle School and John O' Connell grads were heavily represented.


Handcrafted steampunk camera
Our most curious visitor was a young "steampunk" enthusiast who loved our printing press. We loved his beautiful hand-crafted box camera (disguising an old Polaroid inside) which he used to snap a photo of us.



Sutro Baths bathing beauties

Of course the other big hit of the day was at our neighbor's table which was staffed by our colleagues in the San Francisco History Center. They offered a photo-opportunity to pose as a Sutro Baths bathing beauty. People couldn't wait to have their souvenir photo taken.

It was a great event and we're already looking forward to next year's History Expo. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Guest Blogger - John A. Martini: Researching Sutro Baths


The San Francisco History Center is pleased to present historian John A. Martini speaking about his newest book, Sutro's Glass Palace on Saturday, March 15 at 10:30am in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room at the Main Library.

As a special treat, Mr. Martini has written a guest blog post for "What's On the 6th Floor" about writing his book and researching Sutro Baths at the San Francisco History Center.


Researching Sutro Baths

The ruins of Sutro Baths near the Cliff House are an iconic San Francisco landmark. Standing at the edge of Point Lobos, just below the Cliff House, the mysterious concrete ruins draw hundreds of urban explorers each day who try to decipher its network of tunnels and tanks and rusted rebar. Given that it’s such a well-known destination, the Baths’ history proved surprisingly hard to research.

When I began writing my book Sutro’s Glass Palace: The Story of Sutro Baths I was surprised how little had been written about the vanished structure. Although the vast bathhouse has been mentioned in numerous San Francisco histories, the references were usually either casual descriptions (“the largest indoor swimming complex in the world”) or full of conflicting information (especially dates of construction and destruction).

 Men and women posed in woolen bathing costumes in 1906. As the years progressed, women’s bathing dresses became shorter and lost the sleeves and stockings, while men’s suits remained virtually unchanged. (SFPL Minnich SFP-27)
To my delight, the collections of the San Francisco History Center proved to be a priceless source of primary information about Adolph Sutro’s grand palace. The collections included historic photographs, correspondence, artifacts (including a toddler’s Sutro Baths swimsuit), and endless memorabilia such as tickets, brochures, postcards, and certificates awarded swimmers and skaters.

Most valuable, though, were the original drawings and blueprints of the Baths, some dating back to the 1880s (SFPL BP-49). The drawings yielded important clues to perhaps the most vexing question historians had about the Baths: how did they operate? The solution came in the form of an undated linen drawing showing the Baths in its earliest configuration. The drawing, likely prepared for Sutro around 1889, shows a complex of outdoor concrete swimming tanks without any type of protective walls or overhead enclosure. It also revealed in detail how ocean water flowed into the tanks through a tunnel carved through Point Lobos, then into a circular settling pond, and finally to the pools via a network of connecting canals and sluice gates -- all operating via gravity. This drawing became my Rosetta Stone for understanding Sutro Baths.

 Elevation drawings for the north and south facades of the main bathhouse proved invaluable to illustrators who recreated Sutro Baths in 3-D CAD drawings. (SFPL BP-49-009)
Other drawings revealed how Adolph Sutro’s vision evolved from a simple open air “swimming station” to a two-and-a-half acre, ten-story wooden bathhouse containing seven swimming pools, boiler plant, pumps, electrical generators, museum displays, endless changing rooms, and a menagerie of stuffed animals. Other drawings, prepared many years later, documented upgrades and remodeling efforts during the 1930s and ‘40s. These included pastel drawings prepared by San Francisco architect Harold G. Stoner, showing the main entrance on Point Lobos Avenue transformed into an art deco polychrome wonder.

Architect Harold G. Stoner’s color drawing of a new grand entrance to Sutro Baths. The art deco-ish facade actually existed from 1934 to 1953.
Other collections at the History Center provided insights into the rise and fall of Sutro Baths: photographs of swimmers wearing a dizzying array of bathing costumes; a 1934 brochure touting new dining and dancing at the remodeled Baths; newspaper clippings about plans for demolishing and redeveloping the Baths site; coverage of the June 1966 fire that destroyed the building; and negotiations for purchase the empty land as open space in the 1970s. One file yielded Kodak color slides taken inside the Baths in 1952. These documented the interior color schemes and stained glass windows, and provided an invaluable reference for the artists who prepared the illustrations for my book.

As an author and researcher, my only frustration with the History Center’s collections was that there wasn’t enough room in my book to include them all. What a great place.

-John A. Martini
Historical Consultant
Author Sutro’s Glass Palace
http://www.holeintheheadpress.com/hith_Sutro.html

Thursday, March 6, 2014

It Came From the (Photo) Morgue!: Linedrives and Lipstick

Baseball season has begun! If you aren't heading out to Arizona to see the Giants and A's during Spring Training, come by the Main Library to view the exhibit Linedrives and Lipstick celebrating women in baseball. The exhibit is in the Jewett Gallery on the Lower Level and runs through March 16. Batter up!

Image from San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue, San Francisco Public Library.
June 10, 1938 -- There is nothing soft about girls' soft-ball. Here's the way it's done at Glen Park. Behind the plate is Louise Lutz and at bat is Veronica Alves. They are stars on the Glen Park outfit which is one of the teams in the Recreation Department soft-ball tournament for girls.
(P12 ALVES,-Z, A-Z)

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The San Francisco Public Library owns the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper that covered the time period from the 1920s to 1965. Much of the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection comes from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue. However, the morgue also includes statewide, national, and international subjects and people that have not been digitized or cataloged. When researchers order scans from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue,selections are cataloged and added to the online database.

Looking for a historical photograph of San Francisco? Try our online database first. Not there? Come visit us at the Photo Desk of the San Francisco History Center, located on the sixth floor at the Main Library. The Photo Desk hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. You may also request photographs from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue.