Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

January 31, 2011
Happy Bear Flag Anniversary

bear.JPGWe won't see any parades, but this Wednesday, Feb. 3, is the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the "Bear Flag" as California's official State Flag.

The creation of the bear flag goes all the back to June 1846, when a rag-tag group of American insurgents captured Mexican-held Sonoma and created a symbol of their rebellion. The crude icon (which featured a star and a grizzly bear that looked a little like a pig) flew for about a month before being replaced by the U.S. flag. That original flag was lost in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but somehow the concept stuck in people's imagination. Promoted by the Native Sons of the Golden West in the years that followed, the design was eventually adopted by the legislature in 1911.

One person who'll celebrate the anniversary is William J. Trinkle, the founder of the Bear Flag Museum. Trinkle was interviewed by the Bee's Dixie Reid for a story appearing in today's paper.

IMAGE CREDIT: Bear Flag Centennial graphic created by Peggy Rose, art director, Bear Flag Museum.

January 31, 2011
Sacramento baseball's Top 50 players

Stars.JPGAlthough Sacramento lacks a major league team, the city has an impressive history of school, college and professional baseball going back decades.

According to BaseballSacramento, a web site dedicated to preserving this legacy, baseball began in the region as early as the 1860s. The city has had a succession of "home teams," called variously "the Senators, the Wolves, Cardinals, and finally the Solons." Sacramento was one of the founding cities in the Pacific Coast League that started in 1903.

BaseballSacramento recently organized a committee to determine a list of the "All-Time Top 50 Professional Baseball Players from the greater Sacramento area over the past 100 years." They selected from individuals who went on to the majors after playing for area school or college teams.

All through January, the web site has been rolling out the ranking culminating with Saturday's unveiling of the number one: Stan Hack, who graduated Sacramento High and played for the Chicago Cubs from 1932 to 1947.

Interestingly, Hack didn't show in the Bee's own top five choices. First was Dustin Pedroia, the Woodland High graduate who currently plays for the Boston Red Sox.

PHOTO CREDIT: 1955 Sacramento Solons spring training, (l-r) Jerry Streeter, John Briggs, Chuck Essegian, Tom Agosta. The Sacramento Bee archive.

January 28, 2011
Online Archive of California and Calisphere

The Online Archive of California contains collection finding aids from libraries and archives all over California, and, in numerous cases, digitized materials from these collections available for viewing. Calisphere is an associated site that presents digitized images only, and groups them according to subject matter along with some basic information and suggested "study questions" about the topics. The OAC site also contains a "browse map" showing where its participating facilities are located; of particular interest to Sacramento residents are those in this immediate area. Among them are the California State Library, the California State Archives, the California Department of Parks and Recreation, the Unemployment Insurance Division Library , the California State Railroad Museum Library, the CSUS Library, the UC Davis Library, the Sacramento County Office of Education, and the Roseville Public Library. Directions and contact information are given; a click on the institution name will reveal a list of collections and access to their finding aids. And typing "Sacramento" into the "Search OAC" panel will give information on Sacramento-related collections from libraries and archives all over California.

January 28, 2011
Sacramento Public Library's picture of the month

1909 Directory.jpgIf you "Like" the Facebook page for the Sacramento Public Library, you will receive the additional bonus of the Sacramento Room's Picture of the Month album. Each month, the Sacramento Room shares a new image from one of its many historical collections. The captions for each image include information about how to access the featured collection. In past months, the Library has highlighted Sacramento city directories, yearbooks, sheet music, the 1916 Carnegie library blueprints, photographs from the Sacramento Room's online digital collections, historical maps, and archival collections.

Visit the Sacramento Public Library Facebook page at to learn more.

PHOTO CREDIT: Directory and color advertisement from the 1909 Sacramento City Directory, published by the Sacramento Directory Co.

January 27, 2011
An excellent primer on California history

starr.JPGI have a confession. My knowledge of California history is fairly miniscule. So to avoid making stupid mistakes in this blog, I thought I better cram with a good one-volume history of the Golden State. And who better to turn to than Kevin Starr, former State Librarian, current USC Professor and one of the most eminent of California's historians?

Starr has penned seven authoritative books chronicling the state's story, starting with Americans and the California Dream and ending with Golden Dreams: California in the Age of Abundance. Fortunately for us, he condensed his vast scholarship into a very readable and insightful single volume.

Although California: a History covers a lot of ground (prehistory to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger) and mentions dozens (if not hundreds) of names, places and events, a coherent picture of the state emerges out of some elegant writing. Starr's book is balanced, recounting both the triumphs and tragedies, accomplishments and mistakes, the best and the worst that characterizes the California experience. He goes beyond the usual military conquests and political developments to describe the profound contributions of explorers, missionaries, businessmen, scientists, engineers, writers, architects, painters, film makers, labor leaders and environmentalists, who gave so much to the state -- and to the world.

California: a History is a great read and worth a look. But I'm sure there are other vauable sources for the novice (books, journals, films, etc.). Share your suggestions in the comments below.

PHOTO CREDIT: Former state librarian Kevin Starr is congratulated by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during the annual California Hall of Fame ceremony, Dec. 2010. Sacramento Bee photo by Hector Amezcua.

January 26, 2011
Oak Park Walking Tour, the video

US Bank.jpgThe Center for Sacramento History recently posted on YouTube a video recording of Prof. Robin Datel's lecture on the making of the Central Oak Park Walking Tour. Datel, chair of the CSUS Geography Department, introduced the project at the Guild Theater last October. She outlined the methods and sources she and her students used to identify important landmarks.

The walking tour begins at the Lewis Building (corner or 35th St. and Broadway) and ends at US Bank (3rd Ave. and Broadway). Check out the Sacramento Bee's story and photo gallery describing this "bite-size history of Sacramento's earliest suburb."

PHOTO CREDIT: US Bank Building, formerly the Oak Park branch of Sacramento Bank, 1965. Courtesy the Center for Sacramento History, the Sacramento Bee Collection.

January 25, 2011
Do you know anyone in this photo?

girls.jpgBlogger, photographer and Sacramento Connect partner Kari Bluff needs your help. She's trying to identify any of the girls in the above photograph taken in 1928 outside a horse barn in Hagginwood. (Click on the image to see a larger view.)

Why is she interested? Well, Bluff says in her blog that this old barn, now a part of Craigmont Equestrian Center, used to house her horse, Moose. Out of curiosity she did some research and found online this vintage picture of the polo team, archived at the Sacramento Public Library's Special Collections.

Bluff would like to find any relatives of the girls pictured. She makes this request, which we pass on to you:

So I'm asking you a favor, dear readers. If you live in Sacramento, or have older family members who grew up there, would you mind passing this post on to them and see if they remember having a female relative who was a horse person when she was younger? We really would love to track down even one family of one of the girls in the above picture, and bring them out the barn. How cool would that be -- seriously? I love stories, and I'd love to help unravel this one.

If you have information, contact Kari Bluff at:

PHOTO CREDIT: A July 2, 1928, photograph of the girls' polo team from the Sacramento Riding Association. The 15 members and 4 ponies pose in front of the barn in Hagginwood, which later became Barbara Worth Stables. Photo by Frederick-Burkett Foto Service. Courtesy of the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

January 25, 2011
Sacramento History Events

A crab feed to benefit Sacramento's future fire museum will be held at St. Mary's Parish Hall at 58th and M Streets on January 29. No-host cocktails start at 6 PM, dinner begins at 7, and donations are $35. This event is presented by the Pioneer Mutual Hook & Ladder Society.

The annual Sacramento County History Day will be held on March 12 at Rosemont High School, located at 9594 Keifer Blvd. in Sacramento. This is part of a year-long program encouraging students to study all aspects of history. Further information can be found at

And here is a reminder that the California Conference of Historical Societies First Ever Sacramento Seminar will be held on Wednesday, February 2. For more information contact or call 916-570-3804.

January 24, 2011
Young Abe Lincoln featured in B Street play

Young Abe.JPGHere's a chance to share some dramatized history with your children. Take them to the B Street Theatre's new family series production, The Young Abe Lincoln, which depicts "the adventures and trials that shaped a backwoods Illinois boy into a man...and the most beloved President of the United States. A humorous and insightful tale for children ages 5 and older."

Bee reviewer Jim Carnes says the show is "funny, fast-paced, well-acted," though it takes a lot of poetic license with the facts of the 16th president's life.

General: $15 for children and $22 for adults
Purchase general tickets online or call the Box Office at 916-443-5300.

Jan. 22 - Feb. 27, 2011
Sat @ 1pm and 4pm
Sun @ 1pm and 4pm

PHOTO CREDIT: David Campfield as the Young Abe Lincoln. Photo by B Street Theatre staff.

January 24, 2011
View historical images of Sacramento online

Sac Room Digital Collections.JPGA number of Sacramento archives and libraries are providing access to tens of thousands of historic photographs of Sacramento through online digital collections. Many years of work have gone into digitizing and describing these collections, and although they continue to grow, they still represent only the tip of the iceberg when compared to the physical resources preserved at local repositories. 

Here are just a few of the collections now available online:

Visitors can search and view nearly 20,000 California photographs, prints and drawings in the California State Library's Picture Catalog.  The images represent approximately 10% of the library's historic image collection.

The Center for Sacramento History has millions of photographs in its physical collections and its online Pastperfect database boasts over 50,000 images.

Thanks to generous support from the Sacramento Public Library Foundation, the Sacramento Room recently launched the Sacramento Room Digital Collections website.  The site currently features over 3,000 historic Sacramento photographs, menus and postcards.

Over 2,000 images of Sacramento transportation and agriculture are on display at Sacramento History Online.  Completed in 2004, the digitization project is a joint venture of the Center for Sacramento History, California State Library's California History Room, California State Railroad Museum Library and Sacramento Public Library's Sacramento Room.

January 23, 2011
Giant gold nugget to go on display

The recently discovered 100-oz. "Washington Nugget," believed to be the largest remaining gold nugget in the West, will be on display at a Sacramento County Historical Society meeting on Tuesday, January 25, at the Sacramento El Dorado Medical Society building (5380 Elvas Avenue).  The nugget will be on exhibit beginning at 6 p.m.  At 7 p.m., the Historical Society hosts Jody and Ric Hornor, who will present their series of California local history books.  Come early as seating is limited. 

January 21, 2011
Elk Grove Library to host local history authors

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Elk Grove Library.jpgThe Elk Grove Library (8900 Elk Grove Blvd.) will host three local history authors this Saturday, January 22 at 1 p.m.:

The history of Sacramento and Elk Grove unfolds through the work of three well-known local authors ... Historians Nadia West, Elizabeth Pinkerton, and Lawrence Tom will bring their perspectives to the Elk Grove Library. Hear discussions about the survivors of the Donner Party and their lives in Rancho Murrieta, life in Sacramento's early Chinatown, and how roads and towns were named after local settlers.

For more information about this and other Elk Grove Library programs, visit

January 20, 2011
New photographs from 2010 Gold Rush Days

Professional photographer Mark Zwahlen, who blogs at Living in Urban Sac, has sent us links to some beautiful images reflective of Sacramento's frontier past.

Thumbnail image for GoldRushDays.jpgTake a look at Zwalen's gallery from the last Gold Rush Days, the annual Labor Day weekend festival that transforms Old Sacramento into an 1850s boom town. The district's historic buildings are the perfect backdrop for horse-drawn wagons, carriages and buggies; costumed re-enactors portraying soldiers, gunfighters, old-time musicians and pioneers; steamboats and old locomotives. The photos were taken Sept. 3 & 5, 2010.

Another gallery, Sacramento Urban Pleasures, contain many images of interest to local historians. Most of these are vintage buildings located downtown or close by, including: the Sacramento Grand Ballroom; Crest Theater; Memorial Auditorium; Amtrak Station; Citizen Hotel; Ruhstaller Building; Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament; and Capital National Bank Building. There are also some nice pictures of old homes in Curtis Park, Midtown, Land Park and other neighborhoods.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gold Rush Days, Old Sacramento, Sept. 2010. Photo by Michael Zwahlen.

January 19, 2011
State Library News

The Jerry Brown exhibit mentioned in this blog on January 7th is up and running. It contains books, photos, posters, campaign materials, and other ephemera from not only Jerry but other members of the Brown Family. In addition, this exhibit displays inaugural items from previous California governors, among them Hiram Johnson and George C. Pardee. This exhibit can be viewed in the first floor rotunda of the California State Library at 900 N Street from 9:30 to 4:00 Monday through Friday.

A California of the Past video on California artist Maynard Dixon, narrated by Dixon biographer Don Hagerty, is now available on YouTube and can be viewed via a link on the State Library's home page. Among other features, this video shows Dixon's murals on the Gillis Reading Room wall in the old Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building at 914 Capitol Mall. Since the structure is closed for renovation until early 2013, this video gives an opportunity to see these murals in the meantime. 

January 19, 2011
Root Cellar, a home for local genealogists

logobw.jpgIf you're interested in researching your family's history and don't know where to begin, there's a local group that can help you get started. Root Cellar, the Sacramento Genealogical Society, was formed in 1978 to assist its "members with genealogical research through education, publication of information and preservation of records."

Member meetings are held monthly every second Wednesday, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Citrus Heights Community Clubhouse, 6921 Sylvan Road. Informal genealogical workshops are provided every third Wednesday, 1-3 p.m. at the Clubhouse of Country Squire Estates, 5720 Oak Hill Drive, Sacramento. There's also an annual full-day workshop. The next one is scheduled for April 9 with Geoff Rasmussen, who will discuss genealogical software.

Root Cellar maintains a research library containing some 5,000 volumes from most states and many countries, including 150 California-related items. Latest acquisitions are: Divorces, Sacramento County District Court 1850 - 1879 and Sacramento County Coroner's Office Collection 1867-1969. The public is invited to visit the Library, which is housed at the California State Archives, 1020 O Street, 4th floor, Sacramento.

Once you get your feet wet with genealogy, consider sharing a story about a notable ancestor by entering it in the Society's Family History Writing Contest. Entries must be received by April 30, and winners will be announced on May 25. For more details, see the complete contest rules or contact Ron Setzer.   

Visitors may attend all Root Cellar meetings and workshops. Find more information on events and membership, see or email

January 18, 2011
Golden History Books featured at next SCHS meeting

0976697688GoldenHub3w.JPGThe latest issue of Golden Nuggets (the newsletter of the Sacramento County Historical Society) is out.

The lead item announces that Jody and Ric Honor will speak at the Jan. 25 meeting. The Honors publish a unique series of California history books. Unique because he texts are composed entirely of the words of people who lived in 19th century California. The Golden History Books "are compiled from primary sources including circa 1880s history books, diaries, journals, letters, and newspaper articles" and include "no interpretation, no editing (except for length), and no repetition between books". The volumes are richly illustrated with restored photographs collected from dozens of archives around the country.

Sacramento County Historical Society Meeting
January, 25, 2011, 7 p.m.
Sierra Sac Valley Medical Society Building
5380 Elvas Ave, Sacramento
SCHS Message Phone: 916-443- 6265

January 17, 2011
Why you can't reprint King's 'I Have a Dream' speech

MLK.jpgOn this (and every) Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday, we pause to appreciate the civil rights leader's magnificent oratory, especially the "I Have a Dream" address he gave to thousands of people in 1963 on the National Mall in Washington.

Despite the fact that this famous speech is often quoted in lecture halls, newspapers and classrooms, it's actually illegal to reprint the text in full - at least without permission. That's because all forms of the speech are owned by the King estate, which has enforced its copyright strenuously over the years.

King himself sought copyright for the address about a month after delivering it. In December 1963, he successfully stopped the unauthorized sale of recordings in a case known as King v. Mister Maestro, Inc. Much later in 1999, a federal court upheld the copyright in Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. v. CBS, Inc., a case in which the TV network argued unsuccessfully that the speech had fallen into public domain.

The NPR program On the Media recently discussed the irony of the copyright, noting that Dr. King appropriated key elements of his address from other sources.

In any case, there are plenty of places on the Internet where you can read the complete text, hear and watch the speech in full. Martin Luther King Online is one handy source.

PHOTO CREDIT: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledges the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial for his "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, in this Aug. 28, 1963. AP file photo.

January 17, 2011
Grant Union High School Alumni Association Museum preserves school history

There are scores of smaller privately-run museums in the Sacramento area that preserve and exhibit collections dedicated to unique Sacramento communities.  The Grant Union High School Alumni Association operates such a museum on the campus of Grant Union High School, and it is one worth visiting. 

The museum is housed in an adobe building built by Grant students under the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1939. Exhibited are six displays celebrating the history of the school since its founding in 1932.  Visitors can view "In the Beginning 1932-1942 / Purple and Gold Years" from outside the museum along with a display honoring the 2008 State Champion Pacers football team and portraits of Alumni Scholarship recipients and Top Ten GPA achievers of the last 20 years; inside are displays on the history of the school's Mighty Wurlitzer Pipe Organ, aircraft mechanic training on campus during WWII, and a history of Grant Technical College (1942-1955).

In addition to the more formal exhibits, the museum features trophies, class pictures, and school memorabilia.  They also maintain a full run of school yearbooks, and offer duplicate copies and scans of past yearbooks for sale.

The GUHS Alumni Association Museum is located to the west of the school auditorium at 1400 Grand Avenue. It is operated by an all-volunteer staff of GUHS alumni and is open to the public on Mondays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

January 14, 2011
Flood model looks back to Sacramento's 1861-62 deluge

flood.JPGHere's a compelling example of when scientists look to history for insights on a present problem.

The U.S. Geological Survey just released the results of a two-year study which assesses the impact of a "worst-case" storm on California. To build their disaster scenario, researchers examined the largest storms of the past, including the 1861-62 deluge that dumped 30 inches of rain over a 45 day period. It transformed the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys into an inland sea some 250-300 miles in length. Flood waters inundated much of Sacramento, trapping citizens in their homes and destroying much of the commercial area. People used rowboats to navigate the city,

Bee environment writer Matt Weiser has been covering the USGS effort. His latest story is accompanied by four dramatic photos of Sacramento taken during the the great flood of 1861-62.

IMAGE CREDIT: Illustrated leaf from newspaper; depicts effect of flood on J Street, Sacramento, numerous individuals in boats. Exact source and date of clipping unknown. Center for Sacramento History.

January 14, 2011
CCHS offers first workshop in Sacramento

stockton.jpgThe Conference of California Historical Societies will host its first-ever workshop in Sacramento. It will focus on best practices for operating a local history groups, including fund-raising, board management and preservation. Representatives of the California Office of Historical Preservation will be presenting.

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wed., Feb. 2, 2011.
Place: Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical History Museum, 5380 Elvas Ave., Sacramento.
Cost: is $30 for CCHS members and $45 for nonmembers (includes lunch).
Register by: Jan. 28.

CCHS (based in Claremont, Calif.) was founded in 1954 as a "federation of historical societies, museums, libraries, and other history-oriented groups and individuals.helps historians, and others who are interested in history, to connect and share information -- joining efforts to preserve records, artifacts, sites, and buildings." It also consults with local societies and small museums on management, acquisition, preservation and restoration.

Incidentally, the CCHS web site contains some important online resources, including articles, PDF copies of the California Historian Magazine and some beautiful vintage photo collections from places around the state.

PHOTO CREDIT: Early Main St. in Stockton. (Alice van Ommeren, author of Stockton in Vintage Postcards.)

January 13, 2011
JFK Library debuts its digital archive

kennedy.JPGThe largest online presidential archive launched today. Caroline Kennedy, head of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, unveiled the system which makes available to the public an unprecedented number of documents, images and audio files. Archivists in Boston worked four years to digitize over 200,000 pages, 1,200 recordings and 300 museum artifacts, as well as miles of film and hundreds of photographs.

The JFK collection is easy to use. A search on the keyword "Sacramento" yields nine items, including seven photos of then Senator Kennedy visiting the California State Fair in 1956. You'll also see a folder of letters and telegrams urging Kennedy to use presidential authority to stop racial discrimination in federal housing. These are supplemented with related newspaper clippings from The Sacramento Bee and Union

You can find plenty of other California-related materials in the Archive. For example, a recording of an address Kennedy gave at UC Berkeley in which the President explains the need for the United States and the Soviet Union to collaborate on space exploration. There's also a video of his nomination acceptance speech at the 1960 Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

PHOTO CREDIT: President John F. Kennedy views the Whiskeytown Dam and Reservoir during the dam's dedication ceremony on Sept. 28, 1963. (L-R) Governor of California Edmund G. "Pat" Brown; Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall; President Kennedy; unidentified. Photo by Cecil W. Stoughton.

January 13, 2011
National Archives debuts "Today's Document" for iPhone

treatyhidalgo.jpgHistory fans who also love gadgets will appreciate the mobile version of "Today's Document," a fascinating collection of 365 of the National Archives' most important and interesting holdings. The application, which has been available for Android phones, came last week to the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. You can download it free at the iTunes App Store.

When you launch the program you immediately see the day's featured item. This could be a historically significant photograph, painting, letter or document. Today the app shows "An act making an alteration in the Flag of the United States" by the Third Congress. Signed by President George Washington in 1794, the bill gave the flag 15 stripes and 15 stars to reflect the admission of new states Vermont and Kentucky. (Of course, the flag design did return to 13 stripes as more states joined the Union.)

You can also browse dates randomly, or select a specific date like your birthday. On Feb. 2 (my birthday), the United States and Mexico in 1848 signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican American War and ceded 55 percent of Mexico's territory (including California) to this country.

IMAGE CREDIT: Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. General Records of the United States Government, 1778-1992. U.S. National Archives.

January 12, 2011
Sutter's Fort presents two "Hands on History" events

trappers.JPGSutter's Fort State Historic Park has announced two new educational programs where participants can experience California history by literally getting their hands on it.

"Hands on History: Trappers, Trades, and Treaties" (Jan. 22) will explore the multi-faceted life of 1840s fur trappers. Docents will share their knowledge of how trappers lived, worked, explored and traded with Native Americans. Visitors will have the opportunity to watch musket demonstrations, examine pelts, use quill pens, and string trading beads.

"Hands on History: By Land and By Sea" (Feb. 19) will help visitors understand the challenges early pioneers faced as they traveled to California overland and on ships. Hands-on activities include packing a wagon or trunk, choosing what to bring on the long journey, using a nautical compass, weaving rope and much more.

Call 916-445-4422 or see the attached press release for more details on these Hands on History events.

PHOTO CREDIT: Docents (l-r) Clarence Sutton, Judy Prey and Bill Brown prepare for the 25th anniversary of the Sutter's Fort Living History Program, Nov. 2005. Photo by Steve Prey.

January 12, 2011
News from the California State Military Museum

The California State Military Museum is hosting two upcoming events this month. An exhibit titled Strike Up the Band!: The History of Military Music in California opens on January 22nd. On January 30, the museum will host a book signing for Gene T. Boyer's Reflections of a White House Senior Pilot.

In other California State Military Museum news, the Concord Police Department will be transferring two Japanese World War II heavy machine guns to the museum. Also, the Sacramento Police Department has donated an 1895 Colt Navy Model .38 caliber double action revolver, inscribed "John Paul Miller, USN, 12 Company USNA, February 12, 1906." According to the museum's monthly e-newsletter:

Miller was involved in a notorious Naval Academy hazing event that got him and several other Midshipmen a courts-martial in February 1906.  It made the papers and was widely known at the time.  The hazing incident attracted the attention of Roosevelt at the White House - and the charges were dismissed under Presidential pressure.  It created such a stir, a Congressional hearing was convened over this case. Mr. Miller was commissioned and this pistol was a gift of support and fraternity from his classmates at the time of his commissioning as an ensign. 

The California State Military Museum is located at 1119 Second Street in Old Sacramento.

January 11, 2011
Railroad Museum, Old Sac and Sutter's Fort recruiting volunteers

docent.jpgMore volunteer opportunities for those interested in learning and sharing Sacramento's rich history:

The California State Railroad Museum and Old Sacramento State Historic Park are looking for volunteers to become docents, tour guides or provide other assistance at various Old Sac venues. Volunteer training begins Feb. 19, but interested persons must apply and be interviewed in advance. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 21.

You don't have to be a history expert to become a volunteer. Just a commitment to participate in training and to a minimum of 84 hours of volunteer work a year. Perks include free parking while on duty, the annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet and complimentary Museum membership.

Consult the museum's web site for more information, or contact the Museum's Volunteer Training Coordinator at (916) 324-7593.

Sutter's Fort is also recruiting adult volunteers to become docents or to work behind-the-scenes at the museum. Training begins Feb. 19 and interested persons are asked to submit applications by Jan. 21. Download an application form at the State Historic Parks web site. Call (916) 324-0040 for more information.

Press releases

PHOTO CREDIT: A California State Railroad Museum docent speaking with school children. Capital District Museums.

January 11, 2011
Early California newspapers are made available online

Placer Times.JPGAre you interested in searching and viewing early California newspapers online?  The California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC), an ongoing project of the Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research (CBSR) at UC Riverside, contains issues from 17 significant early California newspapers (1846-1922), including such noteworthy Sacramento papers as the Placer Times, Sacramento Daily Union, and Sacramento Transcript.

The CDNC project is supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services through the California Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and has been funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP).  Begun in 2003, the NDNP is an ongoing collaboration between the Library of Congress and the NEH to support efforts in every state to digitize historically significant newspapers.  The Library of Congress also provides permanent access online to newspapers through the Chronicling America website. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Front page of Placer Times, June 5, 1850.

January 10, 2011
Northern California gets its own journal of culture and history

Thumbnail image for cvr-cnm1.jpgCalifornia Northern: A New Regionalism is a new biannual publication that explores the region's culture, politics and history with high-quality photography, essays, poetry, fiction and long-form journalism. Its publisher is former Contra Costa Times reporter Casey Mills, who describes the magazine as:

a place that offers windows into various aspects of life here in Northern California. A place where people can write about what they know. A place to explore our collective and regional identities, to think about who we are and what we share. It's an effort to explain why so many of us believe Northern California is a unique place worth caring for. And it's a forum for sparking dialogue, a home for strong opinions, in-depth reportage, basic storytelling, and for everything in between.

CN's first issue featured a lengthy profile of Jerry Brown, written by Calitics blogger Robert Cruickshank before the November election. Cruickshank describes the serious economic challenges Brown faced in his first two terms as governor (1975-83) and suggests that his response to the crisis -- and to the taxpayer revolt embodied in Proposition 13 -- gives us some insight into how Brown will govern the third time around.

The second issue of California Northern was published on Dec. 10. Included is a piece on author Raymond Carver's connection to the state, as well as the memoir of Yoshito Wayne Osaki, a Japanese American interned during World War II

January 10, 2011
California musical history

California music history aficionados might be interested in a forthcoming club event, and a recently released DVD. Barry Melton, former lead guitarist with the legendary Country Joe & the Fish and more recently the Public Defender of Yolo County, will be performing at Constable Jack's in Newcastle on February 12th. He will be joined by drummer Roy Blumenfeld of Blues Project and Seatrain fame, longtime Merl Saunders guitarist Michael Hinton, and Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra bassist Steve Ashman.

Also of interest is the new DVD Recoil, chronicling the life of the late Marin County guitarist John Cipollina. Best known for his work with Quicksilver Messenger Service, Cipollina played with numerous other bands as well; this release features much live concert footage along with interviews from John's musical collaborators (Quicksilver was quite popular in Sacramento, which is also where Cipollina's mother hailed from). 

January 8, 2011
Become an Underground Sacramento Tour Volunteer

UGST.JPGThis April tours will resume of Sacramento's underground city which was created when downtown sidewalks were raised in the 1860s and 70s to protect the town from devastating floods.

The Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is looking for 20-30 volunteers to help with these fascinating tours. Volunteers assist guides with crowd control, locking/unlocking doors, collecting tickets, distributing equipment, etc. If you're interested, read the job description before filling out a volunteer application.

The Foundation is also recruiting docents to lead tours around the Sacramento History Museum and Old Sacramento. For questions about the Docent Program contact Janessa West, 916-808-4980 or email her at

January 7, 2011
Exhibits at the California State Library

An exhibit featuring our newly inaugurated governor Jerry Brown will soon be installed in the California State Library's first floor rotunda. It will include campaign and inaugural materials, books, and items pertaining to illustrious members of his family, most notably his father, former governor Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, and his sister Kathleen Brown.

These are also the final days of the State Library's "California Calls You" exhibit in the second floor rotunda, which features books, pamphlets and brochures, postcards, posters, and other graphically striking materials used to lure residents and businesses to the Golden State. "California Calls You" will soon be replaced by a new exhibit (the details of which will be announced in this blog), so if you haven't seen it yet you might want to drop by 900 N Street between 9:30 and 4, Monday through Friday.  

January 6, 2011
Florin Historical Society to install officers, honor members

The Florin Historical Society will install new officers and present merit awards at a midday event on Saturday, Jan. 15, at The Promised Lodge, 7145 McComber St.

Social Hour begins at 11:30, lunch at 12 noon. Lunch costs $15 per person. There will be a raffle with some great prizes.

Mail your reservation by Jan. 8 to: Florin Historical Society, 7145 McComber St., Florin, CA 95828. Call Cindy Russell, 916-230-2360, or Ellen Tannehill, 916-947-9268, for more information.

Event flyer

January 5, 2011
Huge nugget is a reminder of state's gold mining past

goldnugget.JPGToday's Bee story by about the 100-ounce gold nugget unearthed in Nevada County is a fun read -- and a reminder of California's Gold Rush that brought 300,000 to the state. As any history buff knows, gold was found Jan. 24, 1848 at John Sutter's sawmill on the American River near Coloma. It was that discovery which triggered the prospecting boom.

The so-called Washington Nugget will be auctioned by geologist Fred Holabird in March. Reporter Carlos Alcala notes that Holabird once helped the Sacramento Public Library purchase an authenticated hand-written letter penned by Sutter.

Check out the online Gold Rush exhibits by the California State Library and the Oakland Museum of California.

January 5, 2011
Sacramento Postcard History Presentation and Signing

Sacramento Postcard History.jpgOn Wednesday, January 12 (6:30 - 7:45 p.m.), local author and freelance photographer Tom Myers will visit the Sacramento Room at the Central Library (828 I Street) to present a slide show of the history of Sacramento with images from his new book, SacramentoThe book is part of Arcadia Publishing's "Postcard History" series and features more than 200 vintage postcards from Myers' own collection. The author will be on hand to sign copies of his book following the presentation.

January 4, 2011
Placer County Museums offer oral history class

Most of wish we had asked our grandparents more about their lives and the times they lived in. Interviewing relatives for an oral history takes some skill and preparation. So the Placer County Museums Division is hosting a seminar to help you make the most of your family interviews.

During this half-day class, participants will learn how to prepare for an interview, what questions to ask and how best to record, transcribe and preserve the session.

Seminar instructors are Susan Cox, who teaches history at San Francisco City College, and Debbie Poulson, who works at the Division's Archives and Research Center. Both have taught oral history at regional colleges.

The Oral History Seminar is scheduled for Jan. 8, 1-4 pm on the second floor of the Bernhard Winery, 291 Auburn Folsom Road in Auburn.  The class is free, but reservations are required. Call 530-889-6500 to reserve a seat.

Press release
January 3, 2011
Local online columnists track community histories

In another happy marriage of high-tech and history, three local columnists are shining a historical spotlight on their communities via the newest of web journalism ventures.

They write for Patch, America Online's network of hyper-local blogs. Patch's mission is to provide news, events, business listings and discussion for neighborhoods and smaller cities. The network began less than two years ago and is expanding fairly quickly in Northern California. So far there are Patch operations in Carmichael, Fair Oaks, Elk Grove, Rosemont and Dixon. More are coming to Sacramento's suburbs.

One type of column appearing in some Patch blogs is the historical feature "Then and Now," a look back at a particular community landmark. Jo Ann Cabral Wilson, Historian for the Rosemont Community Association whose family has lived in the neighborhood since 1927, writes for Patch. Her latest Then and Now column discusses one of the oldest homes in the region that once stood at Mayhew and Goethe Roads. Built between 1847 and 1850, the structure served as a bar, school and roadhouse before being razed in the 1960s to make way for a freeway project that was never happened.

Bil Paul, a freelance writer who moved to Dixon in 2009, maintains that town's Then and Now feature. He's researched the origins of the Dixon library, train stations, slaughterhouse and old fire station. His latest column describes the evolution of the rowdy Fly Trap Saloon, built in the late 1800s, into today's more civilized Firehouse coffee house.

Elizabeth Pinkerton is a respected former educator who has authored several books on Elk Grove history. She also writes historical pieces for Elk Grove Patch, as well as the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper. Her debut Patch column chronicles the World War II internment of the Japanese Americans who farmed the strawberry fields and grape vineyards that now are Elk Grove and Florin housing developments. Pinkerton's latest "History Happens Here" column in the Elk Grove Citizen provides short histories of ten Florin and Elk Grove churches.

PHOTO CREDIT: Bartender Stormy Connell presides over the Fly Trap Saloon along 'A' Street in 1910. Dixon Public Library archives.

January 3, 2011
Arcadia's 2010 books for the Sacramento region

Arcadia.jpgArcadia Publishing is well known for producing small, beautifully illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 6,000 titles celebrating communities all across the country.

Images of America is Arcadia's main series of local history books. Each volume contains dozens of vintage photographs depicting the people, buildings and way of life of a particular town or neighborhood. Arcadia's other series include: Images of Rail, Images of Sports, Images of Baseball, Black America, Postcard History, Campus History, Corporate History, Scenes of America, and Then & Now.

There are nearly 70 titles related to our region. These cover many of the suburbs as well as many Sacramento neighborhoods. Here's a rundown of the newest local volumes.

California State Fair (Images of America) by Carson Hendricks

"Starting in San Francisco in 1854, the California State Fair and Exposition began as a vehicle to showcase, encourage, and expand California's agricultural industry. It quickly became an attraction for thousands of residents, both local and from across the state. By 1884, it occupied the largest exhibit hall in the United States."

California State Fair (Postcards of America) by Carson Hendricks

"The California State Fair boasts a rich history. In this collection of vintage-photograph postcards, Carson Hendricks explores the fair's past."

North Sacramento by V. Ehrenreich-Risner

"In 1910, the North Sacramento Land Company purchased 3,339 acres to establish the city of North Sacramento. Three years later, Del Paso and Company set up power and water operations, along with rail transport. A police and fire department and school sealed the deal, and the city incorporated on June 18, 1924."

Roseville by the Roseville Historical Society

"Long before white settlers arrived around 1849, the Maidu of Nisenan Indians, as they were sometimes called, were living in the vicinity of today's Roseville. Known for its gently rolling hills and beautiful old oak trees, the area had many new arrivals during the Gold Rush. Many came to try their luck, but some came looking for land, not gold, and so stayed here."

Sacramento's Chinatown by Lawrence Tom

"Sacramento's Chinatown has played a central role in the history of the Chinese in America since the Gold Rush. It was named Yee Fow (Second City) by the early Chinese pioneers because it was the second stop by steamboat on the way to the gold country."

Sacramento's Southern Pacific Shops by Kevin W. Hecteman

"In 1862, the Central Pacific Railroad was founded and began building eastward from Sacramento as part of the transcontinental railroad. This required a shop capable of keeping the railroad's equipment in running order. So in 1867, in the swamps just north of town, the Sacramento shops were born."

Southern Pacific in California by Kerry Sullivan

"The Southern Pacific Railroad is California's railroad. As the Central Pacific, it bored and blasted its way east from Sacramento, across the towering High Sierra, meeting with the Union Pacific at Promontory, Utah, completing the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, and profoundly changing the growing United States."

January 3, 2011
Introduction to Contributor Michael Dolgushkin

My name is Michael Dolgushkin, and I work as manuscript processing librarian in the California History Section at the California State Library. This involves evaluating, organizing, and cataloging collections of practically anything one can think of involving California history (and not just "manuscripts"). I am a native of San Francisco, and lived there and on the Peninsula until 1996, when my wife Beth and I moved to Carmichael. I subsequently went back to school and earned a Bachelors in History at California State University, Sacramento, a Masters in Public History from the same institution, and a Masters in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. I also volunteer in the Sacramento Room at the Sacramento Public Library's Central Branch most Thursday evenings.

Caifornia State LibraryMy interest in San Francisco history dates back to age three, when an elderly man in the neighborhood gave me a copy of Zoeth S. Eldredge's 1912 work The Beginnings of San Francisco. This fascination has often focused on the history of the city's street railways; accordingly I have been collaborating with rail historian Emiliano Echeverria on several projects, among them an Arcadia book on the California Street cable cars and a forthcoming work on the Market Street Railway Company of 1893, San Francisco's first major consolidation of privately owned horse and cable lines. My interest in San Francisco also extends to its musical history; being co-author of multiple editions of DeadBase, a statistical work on the Grateful Dead. My credits also include articles for the California State Library Foundation Bulletin, the CSUS History department journal CLIO, the Grateful Dead journal Dead Letters, and the CrownCappers Exchange, a bottle cap collectors' newsletter. Aside from the above, I have long worked as a graphic artist and have designed thousands of posters and fliers for legendary Bay Area musicians.

January 3, 2011
A Gallery of California's governors

Jerry Brown.jpgTo commemorate Jerry Brown's third inauguration, The Bee and the Center for Sacramento History collaborated on an online picture gallery of the state's chief executives (1848 to date). Most of these images come from the Center's photo archives. You can view more photos of Brown and other governors by searching the CSH web catalog, which contains some 50,000 images. (But note: not all of the Center's holdings are accessible in this database.)

And speaking of California chief executives, the California State Library recently revived its Governors' Gallery, which had been out of commission for several months. This is a handy source for brief biographies, official portraits and inaugural addresses.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jerry Brown tests a telephone powered by photovoltaic cells in 1979. (Center for Sacramento History. Sacramento Bee Collection. Photo by Michael Williamson.)

January 3, 2011
Introduction to Contributor Amanda Graham

Sacramento Room.jpg Let me begin my first entry as a contributor to the Sac History Happenings blog with an introduction. My name is Amanda Graham, and I am the archivist for the special collections and archives of the Sacramento Public Library, which are housed in the Sacramento Room on the 2nd floor of the historic Carnegie library at 828 I Street.

I was born in Eureka, California, and grew up along the West Coast, spending most of my formative years in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I earned my BS in history from Southern Oregon University and my MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archival studies from the University of Texas at Austin. While in that program, I had the pleasure of completing internships at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and at the archives of Stephen F. Austin High School. After graduation, I worked as a photograph archivist for the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana. I moved to sunny Sacramento in May of this last year to begin work in the Sacramento Room at the Sacramento Public Library.

The Sacramento Room is primarily a special collections library. We collect books on Sacramento history, works by Sacramento-area authors, recordings and sheet music by Sacramento musicians and songwriters, resources for the study of California history with an emphasis on Northern California, and an extensive collection covering book arts and printing history. Our archives consists of the records of the Sacramento Public Library as well as a number of small collections from local individuals and organizations. We welcome the public five days a week, including Saturdays and Sundays (no appointment necessary), and we host numerous special programs, tours and events throughout the year.

I look forward to being a regular contributor to this blog, which I believe will be an invaluable tool for sharing the wealth of history resources that this region has to offer.

PHOTO CREDIT: A View of the Sacramento Room Reading Room at the Sacramento Public Library (828 I Street).

January 3, 2011
State Library's bible used for Bowen inaugural

Secretary of State Debra Bowen was sworn in for her new term of office on January 3, 2011 using a Latin bible published in Paris in 1501, which has been in the California State Library's collection since the late 1850s. This bible was first used for the inaugural of Governor Newton Booth in 1871, and in the years since has been employed for the swearing-in of numerous California state officials, recently among them governors George Deukmejian and Gray Davis, Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George. Many who have been thus sworn in; have also written inscriptions into the bible that often reflected their hopes for their upcoming terms of office.

Photos courtesy of the California State Library.

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January 3, 2011
Welcome to Sac History Happenings

suttersfort.JPGSacramento and California have a rich, vibrant history. And the region is blessed with an abundance of museums, libraries, archives and historical societies which are dedicated to educating the public about this heritage.

Sac History Happenings aims to support the local historical community by aggregating news about the latest exhibits, lectures, tours, meetings, as well as new research, publications and online resources. Occasionally we'll profile existing collections of high value and interest.

Check out the information in the right-hand column. There's a list of essential local and state history sites, links to the latest Bee history stories and the latest Bee photo galleries. You can also display your own historic family or community photos in the new User Gallery. Upload them here.

This new Bee blog also supplements the expanded history page. In addition to stories written by Bee reporters, that page features occasional projects produced in conjunction with the Center for Sacramento History. These showcase images from the city archive's vast collection of photographs and other materials. You'll also see the This Week in Sacramento History series, a collection of news tidbits and quotes selected randomly from past editions of The Bee.

Contributing to Sac History Happenings are two knowledgeable experts who are well-connected to the local history scene. Amanda Graham, a Certified Archivist at the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library, and Michael Dolgushkin, Manuscript Librarian at the History Section of the California State Library, will join me in maintaining the blog. Let me thank them publicly for helping in this effort.

SHH will be updated several times a week, so keep checking back. If you're in the habit of following blogs with RSS, you'll be happy to know Sac History Happenings has its own feed. RSS (Real Simple Syndication) is a great way to monitor frequently updated sources. You can use any number of free RSS readers available for desktop computers and mobile devices. One of the most common tools is Google Reader.

And finally an invitation to readers. You can promote upcoming meetings, exhibits, lectures, tours, newsletters, journal articles and books of historical interest through this blog. Email tips and suggestions to us or post them in the comments box below.

PHOTO CREDIT: Docents at Sutter's Fort role-play in 2003. Sparky Anderson (left) portrays a trade store manager. Mike Carson plays the fort's blacksmith. Photo by Stephen E. Beck.

About Sac History Happenings

California and Sacramento have a long, rich, vibrant history. And our region is blessed with an abundance of historical resources maintained by museums, libraries, archives and societies. This blog aims to alert readers to the latest developments in local/state historical education and research.

Send tips concerning upcoming exhibits, tours, lectures and meetings, as well as new books, magazine articles and online collections to the blog's contributors.

The Contributors:

Michael Dolgushkin

Michael Dolgushkin is Manuscript Librarian at the California State Library History Section. He is co-author of San Francisco's California Street Cable Cars and is a frequent contributor to the California State Library Foundation Bulletin. Contact him at

Amanda Graham

Amanda Graham is a Certified Archivist working in the Sacramento Room of the Sacramento Public Library. She earned a BS in History from Southern Oregon University and a MS in Information Studies with an emphasis in archives from The University of Texas at Austin. Contact her at

Pete basofin

Pete Basofin is Director of Editorial Research at The Sacramento Bee. He previously worked at The St. Petersburg Times and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. Contact him at

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