Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

June 28, 2013
State Library revamps its online Governors' Gallery

The California State Library has redesigned its online picture gallery for the state's governors. The website contains similar information and images, but it's more attractive and easier to navigate. You'll find: the official governor portraits, family facts, a biographical sketch, bibliography of other sources and links to inaugural speeches. Elsewhere on the site are pictures and biographical information for all the First Ladies.

The State Library has also revamped its own web pages that feature a cool interactive map of the historic Stanley Mosk Library & Courts Building. If you move your mouse over the exterior of the building you're directed to photos and information about the most interesting aspects of this 1928 neo-classical structure. The building went through a complete renovation in 2009.

PHOTO CREDIT: The renovated Stanley Mosk Library & Courts Building. 2013 Sacramento Bee photograph by Hector Amezcua

June 26, 2013
Sacramento's "Red Scare" trial subject of new exhibit

COMMUNIST TRIAL 1934.JPGOne of the most famous (or infamous) trials held in Sacramento was the 1934-35 case of 18 labor organizers accused of "criminal syndicalism" (the advocating of the overthrow of the U.S. government).

The four-month proceedings -- which drew attention of the entire country -- is the subject of a new exhibit opening this week at the Sacramento History Museum. Interactive displays, video, photographs and other artifacts tell the story of not only the trial, but also the battles between farmworkers and growers that gave rise to it.

The Center for Sacramento History's Flickr page features some compelling photographs of the trial and people outside the courthouse. You can also view a YouTube recording of the 2010 lecture given by UC Davis History Professor Kathryn Olmsted entitled: "Blood & Sunshine: Farm Workers, Unions, and the Great Sacramento Conspiracy Trial of 1935."

What: Trouble in River City
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I St., Sacramento
When: Opens June 27 with a members-only reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission -- adults $6, youth (6-17) $4, members and children (5 and under) free.
For more info: (916) 808-7059 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Left to right, defendant Martin Wilson, attorney Leo Gallagher and defendant Caroline Decker participate in the "Red Scare" trial in Sacramento. 1935 Sacramento Bee photograph

June 21, 2013
Railtown debuts new train photography exhibit

RT Connie Cassinetto No 3 in Bronze.jpgMembers of the Sonora Photo Club will display their talents at a new exhibit of train-related images opening this weekend at Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. These 30 compelling photographs showcase the historic Shops and Roundhouse, as well as the vintage locomotives and cars.

Visitors can meet the photographers at a special kickoff reception Saturday at 11 a.m.

Founded in 2005, the Sonora Photo Club is a forum where photographers of all experience levels can meet to share skills and experiences. The group meets in the afternoon on the second Sunday of each month.

What: "In Train View" Photo Exhibit
Where: Railtown 1897 State Historic Park, Jamestown
When: June 22 through Sept. 1. Park open 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: $5 adults, $3 youths ages 6-17, free for children 5 and under
For more info: 209-984-3953 or visit Railtown; 209-591-8182 or visit Sonora Photo Club

News Release

PHOTO CREDIT: "No. 3 in Bronze," photograph by Connie Cassinetto. Courtesy Railtown 1897 SHP

June 14, 2013
Suisun valley and town celebrated in new photo book

Suisun book.jpgThe history of the Suisun Valley goes back centuries when Native Americans populated the region before settlement by the Spanish. The Gold Rush attracted many people to the transportation and commercial crossroads that became Suisun City. The valley eventually evolved into a major agricultural region, producing wheat, fruit and wine.

A new Arcadia illustrated volume celebrates this portion of Solano County with photos borrowed from the Vacaville Heritage Council, Solano County Historical Society and local people. Suisun City and Valley was produced by historian-preservationists Elissa A. DeCaro and L.M. Ewing.

Suisun City and Valley (Images of America series)
By Elissa A. DeCaro and L.M. Ewing
Arcadia Publishing
Paperback, 128 pages, 200 images

Arcadia Publishing is known for producing small, richly illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 8,000 titles that celebrate communities all across the country.

June 6, 2013
D-Day: 69th anniversary
D Day007.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee political cartoon by Newton Pratt, published June 7, 1944.

May 29, 2013
1906 San Francisco quake and fire documented in new photo book

SFquakebook.jpgOn April 18, 1906 a massive 8.3 earthquake and subsequent fires devastated more than 4.5 square miles of San Francisco buildings and roads.

A new Arcadia photo book brings together dozens of essential images of the city before, during and after the disaster. Authors Richard and Gladys Hansen used photos from their own private collection built over 20 years. History buffs can find many of these photos, plus articles, a timeline and primary documents at the Hansens' website, Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.

Richard Hansen is a historian and photographer who has offered photo shows about the great earthquake since 1970. Gladys Hansen, San Francisco Archivist Emerita, has compiled a Great Register of people who died in and lived through the disaster.

1906 San Francisco Earthquake (Images of America series)
by Richard and Gladys Hansen
Arcadia Publishing
paperback, 128 pages, 200 images

Arcadia Publishing is known for producing small, richly illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 8,000 titles that celebrate communities all across the country.

May 27, 2013
Have a good Memorial Day

Memorial Day cartoon.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee political cartoon by Newton Pratt, published May 30, 1963.

May 24, 2013
USC photo collection is rich in local images

J Street 1907.jpgAlthough the California Historical Society's online photo collection (1860-1960) is comprised mainly with images of Los Angeles and Southern California, you'll find a sizable number taken in Sacramento and surrounding areas.

Some 60 of the 25,000 CHS photographs housed at the University of Southern California Digital Library depict turn-of-the-century scenes of Sacramento: homes, streets, public buildings, people, transportation and river views. Among them are the Catholic Cathedral, State Capitol, Governor's Mansion, Sutter's Fort (before renovation), C.B. Crocker Art Gallery and many others.

The California Historical Society, located at 678 Mission St. in San Francisco, maintains both a museum and research library. Its current exhibition, Curating the Bay: Crowdsourcing a New Environmental History, an experiment using the Internet to collect stories and materials from the public "to create a richer, more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay."

PHOTO CREDIT: View of J Street in Sacramento, ca.1907. Photograph by Charles C. Pierce, C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, 1860-1960.

May 16, 2013
State Library's Pinterest is a treasure trove of images

Congratulations to the California State Library!  Its Pinterest collection was ranked number one among state libraries by the website Library Science List.

What's Pinterest? It's a social media service where an individual or organization can share collections of images -- called "boards" -- with followers. Each board illustrates a specific topic. The images -- "pins" -- are linked back to their original source.

The State Library has assembled 39 boards showcasing a wide variety of photographs, postcards, manuscripts, advertisements, maps, illustrations and artwork. Subject matter of the boards revolves around books, libraries and history.

Local and state history buffs will especially enjoy the Gold Rush board containing early photos, paintings, posters, book illustrations and even a gold coin. Included are pictures of Sutter's Mill, Sutter's Fort and several images of miners.

Other historical boards include Illuminated Manuscripts, California promotions, Postcards of California, California History and California Politicians.

PHOTO CREDIT: Coloma and Sutter's Mill in 1851. Oil painting by Louise Catherine Vallet Anderson. (1893)

May 3, 2013
Rail musueum offers photography workshop

Trains & Tripods1.jpgWith the usual crowds it's normally difficult to photograph the amazing exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum. But amateur shooters will have a chance to snap the trains before the facility opens next Saturday.

It's all part of a weekend photography event, which includes an optional lighting class on Friday conducted by former Sacramento Bee photographer Dave Henry.

Space is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is required.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Opportunity & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, 125 I St. in Old Sacramento
When: May 10 & 11. Friday - 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Photography Seminar); Saturday - 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (Shooting Workshop)
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar, $35.00 per person shooting workshop or $60.00 per person for both
For more info: 916-445-7373 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

April 25, 2013
Another source of historic Sacramento images

1601 K street c.1901 John  Bruning.jpgLast month this blog profiled two social media sites specializing in vintage images of Sacramento scenes and ephemera. A third resource recently came on the scene.

Sacramento Then and Now is a new photo-rich blog maintained by real estate agent Scott Williams. It features historic and contemporary images of streets and houses in the city that are often accompanied by property diagrams taken from old Sanford Fire Insurance Maps.

It's interesting to see what building now occupies the site of an old home or business. Take for instance the John H. Bruning residence located at 1601 K St. in the early 1900s. That classy bungalow is now a Hertz Rent a Car. Williams documents the changes in that lot with Sanford maps from 1895, 1915 and 1940.

Incidentally, there's a huge then-and-now site loaded with photos contributed by readers across the globe. History Pin sports an interactive map where you can quickly locate pictures in your favorite neighborhoods. Many of the historic images can be overlaid with contemporary views.

PHOTO CREDIT: John H. Bruning home in 1901.

April 18, 2013
Rail historian/photographer to speak at Sacramento City College

burman.JPGRailroad historian and photographer Shirley Burman will speak at Sacramento City College this Saturday. Burman, who photographed trains with her late husband Richard Steinheimer, became interested in the subject in 1978 when the State Railroad Museum hired her to document train restoration.

For many years Burman has documented and championed the contributions of women who have worked in the rail industry. That interest resulted in various exhibits, journal articles and a children's book She's Been Working on the Railroad (written with Nancy Smiler Levinson). Her company Burman Enterprises, which sells T-shirts, postcards, mugs and tote bags with the theme "Women and the American Railroad," was profiled by The Sacramento Bee in 1996.

What: Shirley Burman
Where: Sacramento City College Student Center
When: April 20, 1 p.m.
Cost: lecture is free and parking free on Saturdays
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: At Southern Pacific Railroad's Sacramento Shops, Pat Taylor cleans traction motor parts in 1986. Photograph by Shirley Burman

March 20, 2013
Two rich collections of historic Sacramento photos, images and ephemera

Clegg photo 1918.JPGIn the art world a "found object" is something that wasn't intended to be artistic, but can be appreciated as art in the right context. The same is true for artifacts that weren't intended to be historic, but in the passage of time become so.

By coincidence two local collectors with a passion for Sacramento history are independently sharing old snapshots, postcards, advertising and other found ephemera on the social media sites Facebook and Tumblr.

Vintage Sacramento, maintained by graphic designer Will Peterson, "was created so that we can share memories of our city." Most of the items on the site were picked up over the years at "garage sales and flea markets." Peterson says he developed an interest in Mid-century Modern architecture and design from having grown up in an Eichler-style Streng home near American River College. Vintage Sacramento is heavy on photos of the city from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Sacramento History is hosted by Anthony Cathey who's "been seriously collecting for about a decade," scouring "online auction sites and area antique stores" for the odd, but interesting item. Cathey generally adds two or three images a week to his Tumblr site which is filled with vintage black-and-white snapshots, colorful postcards and the occasional menu, coin or receipt. This collection tips toward the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Both Cathey and Peterson see the value of displaying their treasures with the public rather than keeping them shut in a box. They encourage their readers to post comments and their own scanned items to the sites.

PHOTO CREDIT: Unidentified woman enjoying downtown Sacramento on July 4, 1918. Photo contributed to The Bee's History User Photos by D. Clegg

March 12, 2013
Paintings depict romance of Hawaii's rail history

RR Sugar Cane Trains.jpgYou don't normally think of railroads in the history of Hawaii, but beginning in the late 1800s up to 1940 narrow-gauge trains were essential for moving sugar cane from plantations to the island mills.

The romance of those steam-powered locomotives is depicted in a collection of colorful paintings now on display at the California State Railroad Museum. Inspired by historic photographs, artist Mike Kotowski painted the series between 1976-1978 for a calendar commemorating the 100th anniversary of the introduction of steam trains for cane transport.

Thumbnail image for RR Sugar Cane Trains 2.jpgWhat: Sweet Stop -- Mike Kotowski's Sugar Cane Trains of Hawaii
Where: California State Railroad Museum, Old Sacramento
When: March 12 thru Aug. 25, 10 to 5 p.m.
Cost: Museum admission: $10 adults; $5 youths ages 6-17; free for children 5 and under  
For more info: 916-445-6645 or website

News release

IMAGE CREDIT: Calendar paintings by Michael F. Kotowski. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

February 18, 2013
Celebrate Presidents Day with the Lincolniana collection

This month the Library of Congress is featuring the Alfred Withal Stern Collection of Lincolniana, a resource comprised of some 11,100 items. 1,300 of these items, available online, include  It contemporary newspapers, Lincoln's law papers, sheet music, broadsides, prints, cartoons, maps, drawings, letters, campaign tickets and other ephemeral gems.

You can search the online offerings by title, author and subject. A few things relate to California, such as November 1864 campaign tickets for the three congressional districts in the state. When Lincoln and Andrew Johnson ran in 1864, voters of the 2nd District (which covered Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Tuolumne Counties) elected William Higby of Calveras to Congress.

The Republican ticket below shows the party's choice of Electors, as well as nominees for President, Vice President and House of Representatives. (In those years the ballot listed the names of candidates for the Electoral College which picked the President.)

Lincoln ticket.jpg

IMAGE CREDIT: Library of Congress, The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

February 14, 2013
Happy Valentine's Day

Published in The Sacramento Bee, Feb. 14, 1913:

December 31, 2012
Happy New Year!
RB Fireworks 13.JPG

PHOTO CREDIT: New Year's Eve fireworks go off over Old Sacramento. 2011 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randall Benton

December 25, 2012
"Every Day is a Christmas Day in California"

Xmas Day002.jpgIMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee cartoon by Arthur V. Buel published on Dec. 25, 1912.

December 24, 2012
"City Aglow Awaits the Yuletide"

Xmas Eve001.jpgIMAGE CREDIT: Sacramento Bee illustration published on Dec. 24, 1912.

November 29, 2012
San Francisco's well-known spots featured in new Arcadia volume

SF Landmarks.jpgSan Francisco certainly ranks as one of the world's most distinctive, recognizable cities. A now a newly-released Arcadia photo book documents 493 local, state and national designated landmarks within The City. These include Mission Dolores, Jackson Square, Bank of Italy, Mark Hopkins Hotel and others.

Author Catherine Accardi collected images from various photographic collections, including the San Francisco Public Library History Center and the J.B. Monaco collection.

San Francisco Landmarks (Images of America series)
by Catherine Accardi
128 pages

Arcadia Publishing is known for producing small, richly illustrated books on local and regional history. It typically partners with local historians and organizations in developing its publications, which now number nearly 7,500 titles that celebrate communities all across the country.

November 9, 2012
New edition of San Francisco photo book

SFThenBook.jpgThunder Bay Press has released the third edition of San Francisco Then and Now, a richly illustrated photo book first published in 2002.

This all-new version features then-and-now photographs of the City's famous landmarks, such as cable cars, Ferry Building, Palace of Fine Arts, and Transamerica Pyramid. It also includes dramatic images of the 1906 earthquake and its aftermath, as well as of the Golden Gate Bridge over the decades.

Co-authors Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky also produced East Bay Then and Now, San Francisco In Photographs and other community history volumes.

San Francisco Then and Now (3rd edition)
by Eric J. Kos and Dennis Evanosky
Thunder Bay Press
144 pages

November 7, 2012
1912 presidential election: "Glad It's All Over!"

One hundred years ago it was a four-way race for U.S. President. Democrat Woodrow Wilson triumphed over Republican William Howard Taft, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Wilson won a large majority of the Electoral College with 42 percent of the popular vote. He carried the four-county Sacramento region with approximately 49 percent of the vote.

Glad Its All Over.jpgIMAGE CREDIT: Arthur V. Buel's political cartoon appeared in The Sacramento Bee the day of the presidential election of 1912.

November 5, 2012
1912 presidential election "In the Hands of the Jury"

One hundred years ago it was a four-way race for U.S. President. Democrat Woodrow Wilson triumphed over Republican William Howard Taft, Progressive Theodore Roosevelt and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. Wilson won a large majority of the Electoral College with 42 percent of the popular vote. He carried the four-county Sacramento region with approximately 49 percent of the vote.

In the Hands of the Jury.jpgIMAGE CREDIT: Arthur V. Buel's political cartoon appeared in The Sacramento Bee the day before the presidential election of 1912.

September 27, 2012
HuffPost and SF History Center collaborate on monthly photo display

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for SAN FRANCISCO MAIN LIBRARY.JPGThe San Francisco History Center (part of the San Francisco Public Library) has partnered with The Huffington Post to produce "Tales of the City," a monthly display showcasing historic photographs from the Center's collections.

The debut slideshow is 25 years of the Tenderloin (1939-1964), featuring rare images (some never before seen) of the 40-block neighborhood. Among them is the notorious Black Hawk bar in 1961, a 1941 car accident in front of the Hotel Shawmut and the Chop Suey & Del Monte Club on Jones St. in 1962.

PHOTO CREDIT: Aerial view of the San Francisco Public Library. 1996 San Francisco Chronicle photograph by Russell Yip

September 7, 2012
Rail musueum offers photography workshop

Trains & Tripods4.JPGWith the usual crowds it's normally difficult to photograph the amazing exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum. But amateur shooters will have a chance to snap the trains before the facility opens next Saturday.

It's all part of a weekend photography event, which includes an optional lighting class on Friday conducted by former Sacramento Bee photographer Dave Henry.

Space is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is required.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Opportunity & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, 125 I St. in Old Sacramento
When: Sept. 14 and 15. Friday - 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Photography Seminar); Saturday - 7 to 9:30 a.m. (Shooting Workshop).
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar; $35.00 per person shooting workshop; $60.00 per person for both.
For more info: website or 916-445-7373

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Photographers line up their shots at a previous Trains & Tripod weekend. Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

August 23, 2012
The 100-year-old photo blog

Freddie.jpgRecently a Bee editor came upon a historical photo blog that is well worth sharing here.

Shorpy is "an online archive of thousands of high-resolution photos from the 1850s to 1950s." Containing shots by both amateur and professional photographers, the posted images cover a wide range of time periods and subjects. Many come from the Library of Congress. Some come from family photo collections. You can search for items by keyword, or browse a list of galleries that include topics such as animals, aviation, eateries & bars, holidays, kids, politics, railroads and many more.

Shorpy photos set in the Sacramento area:

Five Plus Pup, 1936: Destitute family camped near the American River (Dorothea Lange).

Jean Gotchy, 1959: Sacramento girl age 14.

Freddie the Newsie, 1915: A young newspaper hawker in Sacramento.

Hasty Messenger, 1915: An employee of the Hasty Messenger Service of Sacramento.

Kiddie TV, 1950s: A group of Cub Scouts from North Sacramento meet the stars of a kids' TV show.

Incidentally, the Shorpy blog is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, an Alabama coal miner.

July 5, 2012
News from the California History Section

Drop by the California History Room at the State Library, Room 200 at 900 N Street in Sacramento, between 9:30 and 4:00 Monday through Friday, and see its book display from July: "Bloomin' California." Selected for your reading pleasure are books on California botany, ranging from a 1930 state textbook on California wildflowers to a book on the gardens of Alcatraz to another on that state icon, the California Poppy (and while you're visiting, take a look at the California Room's own poppies that amazingly, magically, never wilt!).


Off the downstairs rotunda, the annual Juneteenth exhibit is still on display, showcasing the contributions of African-Americans to California's history. And in the second floor rotunda you can still see the popular California Calls You exhibit, featuring the often graphically striking promotional materials that have inspired people to visit or move to California over the years. Also on display are a few items from an upcoming exhibit on California sports, which will replace California Calls You in the near future.

Recently processed manuscript collections include material on renowned food writer M. F. K. Fisher, the California Alpine Club, the San Pedro-built ship USS Grama, and California attorney William C. Mathes. And issue #103 of the California State Library Foundation Bulletin is soon to be released, which will include articles on Yosemite artist Thomas Almond Ayres, foundation board vice-president George Basye, the many books and reports issued in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, the pre-bridge Golden Gate, and another recently processed manuscript collection: that of former California State Senator and San Francisco Supervisor Quentin L. Kopp.

sunshine apts.bmpIncluded here for The Bee readership's viewing pleasure are two images from the California History Section's photograph collection: a woman and emu at San Francisco's fabled Woodward's Gardens, and the Sunshine Apartments on Los Angeles' Bunker Hill before the neighborhood was almost entirely leveled.

July 4, 2012
Happy Independence Day!

Toll Fireworks.JPGPHOTO CREDIT: Fireworks in Old Sacramento. Undated (1980s?) Sacramento Bee photograph by Mitch Toll.

June 5, 2012
Alhambra Theatre remembered at preservation meeting

AlhambraDemo126.jpgThis quarter's Sacramento Preservation Roundtable features a photo presentation recalling efforts to save the Alhambra Theatre in 1972 through rock and vaudeville benefit shows. These concert photos, plus images of the movie palace's ultimate demolition in 1973, were shot by CSUS Hornet reporter Doug Taggart. Dennis Newhall, former KZAP music director and curator of Sacramento's Rock & Radio Museum, and SOCA President William Burg will provide historical commentary on the "Save the Alhambra" music and campaign.

In addition, the Roundtable will include an update on citywide historic preservation projects, a look at Old Sacramento's newly revised general plan, and a special presentation about the closure of many California historic post offices, including Sacramento's old post office and federal building.

What: Sacramento Preservation Roundtable: Images of the Alhambra
Where: The Urban Hive, 1931 H St., Sacramento
When: June 9, 9 to 12 p.m.
Cost: $5 donation, includes continental breakfast
For more info: email Sacramento Old City Association or call 916-202-4815

News release
Event flyer

PHOTO CREDIT: Demolition of the Alhambra Theatre in 1973. Photograph by Doug Taggart

May 11, 2012
Sacramento Heritage walking tours and photos

ELKS BUILDING.JPGIn the spirit of May Preservation Month, check out Sacramento Heritage's list of self-guided walking tours of some of the best historic areas in the city. The annotated maps and brochures will help you plan your jaunts whenever you want to go.

Tours include architectural landmarks downtown, on J and K Streets, Oak Park, Curtis Park and Boulevard Park. Plus there are bungalow tours in Midtown and East Sacramento.

If you want to see many of these sites from the comfort of home, Sacramento Heritage has posted several photo collections on its Flickr page.

Sacramento Heritage, Inc. is a public/private partnership whose mission is to preserve and promote the city's historic architecture. The organization conducts surveys, sponsors workshops and provides grants and loans for preservation efforts.

PHOTO CREDIT: Elks Building, 11th and J Sts., part of the J and K Street Commercial Corridor Walking Tour. 2001 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jay Mather

April 9, 2012
A trip thru California history via real photo postcards

Oak Park postcard.jpgPicture postcards are a window into history. And postcards made with "real photos" have double the historical value.

This month the California State Library is sharing some of the best images from the E.F. Mueller Postcard Collection, some 2,590 items donated by the Las Vegas businessman. According to an article by Robert Greenwood, the "real" photographs on these cards depict a wide variety of California scenes, including "towns, factories, celebrities, social events, parades, mines, baseball teams, railroad stations, hotels, floods, etc."

The Library's Tumblr site, Around California in 30 Days, displays a notable Mueller postcard each day of the month starting on April 1. The first card shows famed aviator Charles A. Lindbergh leaving San Diego in the Spirit of St. Louis (1927).

You can see more images from the collection by searching "E F Mueller" in the State Library's online picture catalog.

PHOTO CREDIT: Oak Park streetcar scene by the Kropp Company. Courtesy Tom Myers, Sacramento: Inside History Series.

March 31, 2012
A historical Facebook Timeline for The Sacramento Bee

MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM 1927.JPGLike many businesses using Facebook, The Sacramento Bee's Fan Page went public last Friday. As Anne Gonzales reported recently, local companies are using the new format to further brand themselves and promote their products and services.

The Timeline feature in particular offers newspapers a place to show off archival material in a chronological format. The New York Times, for example, loaded its fan page with a fascinating collection of images tracking its evolution as a company and as a journalistic enterprise. It starts with the front page of the first edition of "The New-York Daily News" (Sept. 18, 1851, price 1 cent) and moving through innovations in printing, editing and distribution, and finally arriving at the Internet era.

The Bee chose to post front pages and photos reporting many of the top news events of the century. Notable among the front pages are the end of WWII in the Pacific, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the John F. Kennedy assassination, the 1927 Folsom Prison riot and the Hindenberg dirigible disaster.

The Bee's historic photos evoke major developments in local history, such as the major floods of 1955 and 1986, the opening of the K Street Mall in 1969, the 1975 attempted assassination of President Ford in Capitol Park and the loss of game seven by the Kings to the Lakers in the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals.

See other newspaper historical timelines on Facebook:
Los Angeles Times

Chicago Tribune
Miami Herald

Wall Street Journal

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium opened in 1927.

March 22, 2012
Online photo database includes vivid historic images of Sacramento

Sac view from Capitol.jpgPhotography was a new medium when the San Francisco firm of Lawrence & Houseworth began documenting the early development of Northern California and Nevada in 1852. For over 40 years the company produced hundreds of vivid landscapes, portraits and stenographs.

Many of these images were preserved by L&H in three catalog albums used for print sales. Fortunately for present-day historians digital scans are now available online in a photo database maintained by the Society of California Pioneers.

You can easily find items in the nearly 1,500-image collection via keyword searching or browsing. Browsing categories include topics, such as mining and railroads, as well as places such as Nevada and San Francisco. Sacramento is tagged on some 55 images (but note: some of these refer to Sacramento St. in San Francisco.) Included are some remarkable pictures of the city's riverfront, bridges, streets and buildings.

Founded in 1850, the Society of California Pioneers is the state's oldest historical organization. Today the group functions as "a not-for-profit museum, library, and cultural organization dedicated to advancing the knowledge and appreciation of early California history for the benefit of present and future audiences of all ages."

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento City from the new Capitol Building, looking northwest -- the Sacramento River in the distance, circa 1860-70. Lawrence & Houseworth collection. Courtesy Society of California Pioneers

February 20, 2012
Iconic images of U.S. presidents

Johnson Gall Bladder.jpgHappy President's Day!

To help you get in the mood, take a look at The Bee's gallery of notable presidential pictures, some serious, some less-than-serious.

You'll see such memorable moments as: George W. Bush's visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq, Jimmy Carter fighting off the "killer rabbit," Ronald Reagan demanding that Mr. Gorbachev "tear down this wall" in Berlin, and Harry Truman crowing over the Chicago Tribune erroneous election headline.

We couldn't include every picture we'd like (being limited to what's in the paper's wire collection). So some obvious things are missing. Tell us what you would have included in the comment section below.

PHOTO CREDIT: President Lyndon Baines Johnson displays the incision from his gall bladder surgery and kidney stone removal at a news conference at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington in this Oct. 20, 1965. Associated Press photograph by Charles Tasnadi.

January 18, 2012
Contribute your war photos to "Spirit of '45"

WEDDING.JPGSacramento Magazine posted a brief item concerning National Spirit of '45 Day (second Sunday of August), a day of remembrance honoring the generation that lived through the Depression and World War II. Congress approved the observance in a 2010 resolution.

Keep the Spirit of '45 Alive, the organization promoting the event, is soliciting images from families to go into the "Times Square Kiss" mosaic that will debut on Aug. 14, 2012. The group wants wedding photos or other pictures of couples who married between 1941 and 1945.

In addition Keep the Spirit also requests service photos of WWII vets to go into its Wall of Honor Project,

PHOTO CREDIT: David and Jane Morse on their wedding day, May 2, 1943, outside the Methodist Church in Elk Grove. Courtesy of the Morse family.

December 31, 2011
Happy New Year!

PHOTO CREDIT: Old Sacramento New Year's Eve Sky Spectacular. Courtesy Mike Testa, Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau

December 24, 2011
Merry Christmas from Sac History Happenings!

Xmas Nevada City.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Victorian Christmas in Nevada City, 2009. Courtesy Jesse Locks

December 21, 2011
Sites marry maps and images

WhatWasThere.JPGIf you're a fan of old pictures of people, cars, buildings and streets, you're going to love two websites that "mash up" Google Maps with historic images (snapshots, postcards, etc.).

History Pin encourages users to upload images containing date and location information. They're then displayed as pinpoints on the interactive Google Map system. It's easy to browse to any location to see what's been posted. There's also a timeline filter that let's you narrow the search to specific time periods. In addition to the map-based images, History Pin features image collections with a large variety of themes, such as "Christmas," "Vintage Cars and Vehicles" and "My Grandparents are Better Than Yours."

What Was There also solicits photos and locates them on a Google Map. But it goes one step further and superimposes the old image atop the current Street View. This allows you to see the snapshot or postcard, then let it fade away to show the contemporary scene underneath. The two views don't always line up exactly, but the system is pretty cool nonetheless.

I checked both sites for items related to the Sacramento region. Not much there, unfortunately. But that's easily remedied. Folks here can join and post on both systems for free.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament superimposed on 1045 11th St., Sacramento.

November 2, 2011
Scan old family photos with a cell phone, send them to The Bee

Rudin.JPGHave you been putting off scanning your family's old photos? Digitizing prints with a conventional scanner can be a mind-numbing, laborious process. Now there's a new iPhone app that may make the job a little easier. (Android version to come.)

It's called Shoebox. It uses your phone's camera as a miniature scanner. You can shoot a snapshot and the software finds the edges and corrects the perspective. You can also manually crop, straighten, rotate, caption and tag the image.

I tested the app by scanning a 3x5 inch glossy picture of Anne Rudin with an iPhone 4 camera (right). The process is easy and quick, and the software automatically crops pretty well. But there can be glare from an indoor light source -- something that won't happen with a flatbed scanner.

Items scanned with Shoebox are saved in the cellphone and sent automatically to 1000memories, a free social media site where individuals and families can post pictures and organize them in timelines and family trees. You can also send pictures directly to Facebook.

And while we're on the subject, The Bee wants your family snapshots. Not recent ones, but vintage photos of your ancestors. The pictures don't have to be set in the Sacramento region (though that would be nice). And they don't have to be professionally done. Just be evocative of a historic period (through period clothing, vehicles, buildings, etc.).

Craig Family.JPGTake a look at Scott Craig's contributions to the Bee's History User Photo Gallery. His family has lived in the region for many decades and he uploaded some interesting examples from his collection. You can add yours, too. Just fill out the form below the gallery, browse to the scanned (jpeg) photo in your computer and hit "Upload File".

PHOTO CREDITS: (top) Former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin in 1969 when she served as a City Council member. Sacramento Bee archives. The Craig Family, circa 1930s. Courtesy Scott R. Craig.

July 20, 2011
An amble through State Fair history

California State Fair.JPGThe Eichler Homes blog scores another hit with a beautifully-illustrated posting on the history of the California State Fair when it was located at Broadway and Stockton. The Fair moved to that site in 1909 and left for Cal Expo in 1968.

Included in the piece are family snapshots, vintage color postcards and a newspaper advertisement for the Fair. There's also a Bee newspaper photo of a man blasting off in a Bell Aerosystems rocket belt. But the kicker is the video clip of two locomotives crashing head-on as "entertainment" at the 1913 State Fair.

You can view many more historic State Fair photographs using the Center for Sacramento History online catalog.

PHOTO CREDIT: Children sit atop one of the Golden Bear statues in front of the Agriculture Building at the old State Fair grounds. 1957 Sacramento Bee file photo

May 27, 2011
Golden Gate Bridge is 74

GoldenGate.JPGToday is the 74th anniversary of the grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge linking San Francisco and Marin County. To celebrate Alexis Madrigal, senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, put together a neat online exhibit on the festivities of May 27, 1937.

It's got a brief historic video showing airplanes flying overhead, warships steaming by, the parade of cars, etc. There's also a slideshow of black-and-white photos documented the construction and celebration. Finally there's Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta, the official souvenir program that's filled with pictures, advertisements, schedules, and articles about the bridge's construction and the prominent movers and shakers who made it happen.

Worth a look.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Golden Gate Bridge is shown after catwalks spanned the north (top) and south towers at the end of 1935. Sacramento Bee file photo.

May 23, 2011
San Francisco trip down memory lane in photos

BART.jpgOur history-minded colleagues at the San Francisco Chronicle recently launched an appealing series of historic images selected from the newspaper's photo archives.

Let's Go to the Morgue! has appeared about weekly in the Chron's Baby Blog since February. Each gallery covers a fascinating aspect of Bay Area history. The latest posting illustrates The Birth of BART with photos from the 1960s and 70s of construction and early operation of the regional transit system.

Other galleries include:

* Four Decades of Nudists in the Bay Area (rated PG)
* Willie Mays and the Children of the Bay Area
* A hundred years of the Emporium in San Francisco
* The Japan Air Lines miracle water landing of 1968
* Looking back at Playland at the Beach
* Four decades of Bay Area baseball fans
* Skid Row in San Francisco through the years
* Six decades of roller derby in the Bay Area
* Remembering the 1973 oil crisis
* Historic snow photos

PHOTO CREDIT: A BART test train stops at the Lake Merritt Station en route to Hayward, 1973. Courtesy Bay Area Rapid Transit.

May 13, 2011
New journal discusses Sacramento's country music roots

At the start of spring, the University of California Press released a new arts, culture, and history-based publication called Boom: A Journal of California.

The first issue features several scholarly articles which address California's economic and social difficulties (titles include "How to Fix a Broken State" by Joe Matthews and Mark Paul, and "Race and the Mythology of California's Lost Paradise" by Daniel HoSang.) A music-related article by Jesse Drew, Associate Professor of Technocultural Studies at UC Davis, addresses something slightly different.

The article, titled "Country Music's California Heart," discusses the musical genre's reputation as an art form steeped in traditional or conservative values, and the ways in which those values may be at odds with California as a place of "nontraditional lifestyles, radical protest movements and a rejection of the status quo." In the article, Drew considers where California Country music fits into the vast political spectrum.

2001-x03-126.jpg"County Music's California Heart" features images obtained from the Center for Sacramento History and makes specific reference to longtime Sacramento resident Bob Wills, his western swing band, the Texas Playboys, and the bygone era of Wills Point (an entertainment venue located near today's I-80 off ramp to Auburn Boulevard.) Some Sac History Happenings readers may be surprised to know that country music has locally established roots...



Information regarding subscriptions to Boom: A Journal of California may be found at the following link: and details regarding Jesse Drew's current film project "Big Country: The Politics of Country Music" may be found through his website: 

IMAGE CREDIT: Postcard of Wills Point, Courtesy of the Center for Sacramento History, City of Sacramento Collection, 2001/x-03/0126

March 15, 2011
Calisphere remembers Rosie the Riveter

rosies.JPGThe Allies were able to win World War II partly because the United States transformed its industrial capacity to produce the massive amount of weapons, ammunition and equipment needed by the troops. With so many men in uniform, women stepped up to fill the labor shortage in war industries. Richmond was the center of west coast ship building. By the end of the war one-third of the 90,000 workers there were women.

Calisphere, the University of California's catalog of digitized historical resources, celebrates Women's History Month with a collection of photos from the Richmond Shipyards. A few of these were taken by famed photographer Dorothea Lange. The most amusing image is a dress code poster that advises female workers not to come to work in high heels, jewelry and nylon stockings.

The contributions of "Rosie the Riveter" (or "Wendy the Welder," as she was known in California) are memorialized at the WWII Home Front National Historic Park in Richmond. The park has a terrific online exhibit filled with articles, photos, artifacts and oral histories of women shipyard workers. In 2000 The Bee published a story about the planning of the Rosie the Riveter memorial which later opened in 2003. The article includes an interview with Ollie M. Hawkins, an African American woman who started working in the shipyards at age 18.

PHOTO CREDIT: Richmond Shipyard welding crew. Courtesy of the Clem Family and the Rosie the Riveter Project

March 9, 2011
Portrait of the last living WWI vet

Frank Buckles, the last known living veteran of World War I, died on Feb. 27 at age 110. The 16-year-old Buckles enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 by convincing recruiters he was 21. He served in France as an ambulance driver.

To commemorate his passing, a student at St. Helena High School painted his portrait in watercolor. The artist, Georgia McCain, is a member of the WWI Research Institute at the school. The Institute, which began as an elective class in 2008, is a team of dedicated students who study the Great War under the guidance of a history teacher. The group maintains a permanent exhibit in the school library that includes uniforms, medals, diaries, letters, photos, scrap books and written memoirs. Their web site includes war photos, posters and brief articles related to the conflict.

IMAGE CREDIT: "In Memoriam: Mr. Frank Woodruff Buckles, February 1, 1901-February 27, 2011" by Georgia McCain.

February 25, 2011
Sacramento snow records

snow.JPGThe volatile weather has got folks wondering if it will snow overnight. Weather experts expect just a light dusting in the Valley.

The white stuff doesn't fall often in Sacramento, and the prospect reminds us of past snowfall in the city. When did it last snow appreciably? That's a matter of contention. According to Climate of Sacramento, California, NOAA's almanac of weather records, there have been trace amounts in 2002, 1996, 1988 and 1988. But you have to go back to Feb. 5, 1976 to get any accumulation (2 inches).

NOAA's climate records go back to 1879. In these 132 years snow fell in Sacramento only 42 times (and only 14 times with more than a trace). The biggest month in history was January 1888 when a total of 3.6 inches came down.

The Center for Sacramento History has some vintage Sacramento snow photos in its online catalog, mostly from the Jan. 30, 1922 storm.

PHOTO CREDIT: Chibi, the dog, has second thoughts about wandering around Land Park in the snow. Land Park pro Don Oreb braved the weather to give a putting lesson to 4 year old Rickey Gregson on Feb. 5, 1976. Leo Neibaur / Sacramento Bee

February 22, 2011
Calisphere celebrates Black History Month with photo collections

council.jpgCalisphere, UC Berkeley's portal to the online resources of the California Digital Library, is commemorating Black History Month with five themed collections of photos illustrating the state's  evolving African American community from the Gold Rush through the 1980s:

Gold Rush Era to 1900
The Struggle for Economic Equality (1900-1950s)
Community Life (1950s-1980s)
Politics and Community (1970s-present)
Civil Rights and Social Reform (1950s-1970s)

Each theme is accompanied by a brief historical overview and suggested uses by teachers. In addition there are links to California-related pictures of famous African Africans such as Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Bunche, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X.

PHOTO CREDIT: Afro-American Council, 13th annual meeting, Oakland, 1907. Bancroft Library.

February 18, 2011
A teapot mystery

Thumbnail image for Sac6_Teapot_silver logo.jpgThe Bee received an email from Phil Watts in Colorado asking if we might help him identify the origins of a silver teapot he bought last year at an auction. The teapot has an intriguing "Sacramento 6" logo superimposed on a clock face, and the silver mark on the bottom indicates the year 1925. (You can click on the images below to call up high-res versions.)

Watts is a railroad history buff. And because the teapot came with a conductor's bell punch, he strongly suspects the pot came from an old Sacramento train -- perhaps a parlor car of the Sacramento Northern Railway, an interurban electric rail line that operated in the first half of the 20th century.

One other possibility is that "Sac 6" was used on the SS City of Sacramento, a ferry that ran between Vallejo and San Francisco in the 1920s. Apparently the ferry line offered companion fares with the Sacramento Northern Railway. That could explain the connection between the teapot and the train conductor's bell punch.

Of course the teapot could have come from a local hotel or coffee house, but Watts is betting on the train. Now folks at the California State Railroad Museum weren't able to identify the piece. So we appeal to this blog's readers. If you have any insight into the origin of the teapot or the meaning of the "Sacramento 6" logo, let us know in the comments below.

Watts is also interested in hearing from people who have memories of the regional interurban trains of that period, particularly the opulent dining cars. It was a long time ago, but you never know. You can email him directly at:

Thumbnail image for Sac6_Teapot_silver 2.jpgThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Sac6_Teapot_Marks 2.jpg

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 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 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 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 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 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.)

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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