Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

November 1, 2012
What's New at the California State Library

California History Room at the State Library, in honor of Veterans' Day, has selected California Military History as the theme for its November book display. The theme this month is California's military history.  Books covering all aspects of life in the service are displayed for your reading pleasure in Room 200 on the shelves by the lockers, among them the U.S. Navy's strong 4.bmppresence in San Diego, the Golden Gate's artillery batteries, California's own Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, and the U.S. Army's ill-fated attempt to employ camels in the state's deserts. Also on display is an authentic World War II U.S. Marine Corps woman's corporal uniform.

Featured this month in the library's first floor rotunda is a new exhibit on California food. The delights of the palate have always been a part of California life, but the 1840s and 1850s influx of gold seekers from all over the world brought a full range of cuisines to this state. Accordingly, this exhibit showcases nineteenth-century menus relating to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company and the Southern Pacific Railroad along with later restaurant menus which reflect California's fine graphic art tradition (including some from San Francisco's fabled Poodle Dog), and calendars from Sacramento's now defunct Tientsin Cafe. Among the books on display are What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, the first cookbook by an African-American in the U.S. (printed by San Francisco women in 1881), and a manuscript cookbook from the Gold Rush by Kezia Curtis written in 1851. The subject of drink is not ignored either, with Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender, published in 1891 in San Francisco, on display along with a bottle of "Recall Red" and a plaque, made from an old distillery vat, honoring San Francisco Chronicle columnist Stanton Delaplane for introducing Irish Coffee to the United States.

3.bmpIn keeping with the above theme of food and drink, this month's "A Night at the State Library" program is called Culinary California and will feature guest speaker Kotaro "Taro" Arai. Taro, owner of Mikuni Japanese Restaurant & Sushi Bar in Sacramento, is one of the top sushi chefs in California. Twenty-five years ago his parents, who had recently emigrated from Japan, opened their first Mikuni restaurant in Fair Oaks. Today there are eight Mikuni restaurants in Northern California, and one of the reasons for their success is the culinary genius of Taro. His inspired creations include both the traditional Japanese style sushi as well as his eclectic, creative variations that appeal to the American palate.

In addition, the library's Principal Librarian Emeritus for Special Collections, Gary Kurutz, will speak on our great collection of culinary treasures here at the State Library, and specifically about our November exhibit described above.

"A Night at the State Library" will take place on Wednesday, November 14. The doors open at 5PM and the program will begin at 6. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free with RSVP to or 916-653-9942. The California State Library is located at 900 N Street in Sacramento.

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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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