Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

September 9, 2013
So long, but see you at Sacbee's History Section

Today Sac History Happenings ceases operation as a branded blog.

I want to thank Amanda Graham of the Sacramento Public Library and Michael Dolgushkin of the California State Library for their postings these past 2-1/2 years. We hope that in a small way this blog has contributed to the very vibrant historical scene in Sacramento.

Amanda and I will continue to write up announcements of local history events and resources going forward. These will be published online in's History Section. There you'll find Bee staff-written stories of interest to this community, as well as links to the latest wire articles on the subject posted elsewhere on In addition, the page has AP's daily "Today in History" feature and links to essential local websites.

Those used to keeping abreast of the blog through an RSS feed will be able to monitor the History Section in the same way. Just aim your favorite RSS reader to this link.

Twitter fans can still follow us at Sacramento History (@Sac_History_Hap) which links to all the History Section content, plus interesting items around the Web.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Keep sending those press releases and announcements. I can be reached at

July 26, 2013
'Rosie the Riveter' remembered in oral history collection

With so many men in serving in the military during World War II, young women moved to the Bay Area to work on the assemble lines that manufactured the guns, ships, tanks and planes needed for the Arsenal of Democracy.

Their wartime experiences these Rosie the Riveters are preserved in recorded interviews compiled by the Regional Oral History Office of UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Reminiscing about life and work during the war, the women discuss, among other things, the balance between job and family, gender and race relations, and how wartime experiences shaped their lives after the conflict ended.

You can get a taste of the project by watching a brief YouTube video containing snippets of some of the oral histories.

July 24, 2013
Podcast series spotlights new books in history

NBIH.JPGThis blog is always on the lookout for quality audio and video programs in the field of history. We've mentioned the college lectures supplied by iTunes U and C-SPAN, podcast series such as Back Story and My History Can Beat Up Your Politics, and the video courses available through Annenberg's

Recently our radar found New Books in History, a podcast series of interviews with authors of new published works of academic history. Although the subject matter can sometimes be arcane, these discussions are usually lively and accessible. Recent programs featured a provocative study of Russian KGB infiltration of the United States in the mid-20th century and a fascinating look at the experiences of Americans who visited Europe between 1750 and 1860.

New Books in History is part of the New Books Network, a consortium of free audio interview programs with writers from nearly 100 academic disciplines, ranging from the arts and humanities to the sciences and social sciences. Other NBN series of historical interest include New Books in: American Studies, African American Studies, Archaeology, Biography, Communications, Gender Studies, Historical Fiction, Intellectual History, Journalism, Military History, Political Science, Popular Culture and Technology.

You can retrieve and play New Books in History interviews through Apple iTunes or copy-paste the RSS feed into your favorite podcast media player.

July 11, 2013
New app brings Old Sacramento to your mobile device

Local history meets high tech in the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation's new application for Apple's mobile devices. Old Sacramento -- which works with iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches running iOS 4.3 or later -- delivers a plethora of information about the landmarks and amenities available in the historical area.

Clicking on an item in the Landmarks Map gets you the address, photos and a brief history of the structure. The Amenities Map shows Museums, parking, bike racks, bank ATMs and rest rooms.

The basic application is free. For $1.99 you can purchase the additional Activities Pack which features a trivia game, scavenger hunt and a "Murder & Mayhem" tour of Old Sacramento. Those who complete the games will receive a treat from Evangelines, a prize from the Sacramento History Museum and/or a discount on food from Ten22.

Right now Old Sacramento only works on Apple devices, but an Android version is in the works.

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 14, 2013
Library launches vintage cooking challenge

Cookbooks.jpgSummer Reading is underway at Sacramento Public Library with the theme of "Reading is So Delicious," and this year a local history activity has been added to the mix: the Sacramento Vintage Cooking Challenge.

Over the next three months, participants are challenged to try their hand at recipes from Sacramento-area cookbooks dating from 1890 to 1970 and send in reviews of the finished products. Challenge details, recipes and reviews are all posted on the library's Facebook page.

Vintage Cooking Challenge cookbooks have been drawn from the Sacramento Room collection and issue from a variety of local clubs and organizations from the Eastern Star of Sacramento to the Sacramento Symphony League. They include such vintage staples as molded salads, Jell-O, casseroles, and dishes featuring SPAM and chicken livers. Rich mid-century entrees are balanced by dessert recipes dating from 1890 and 1920, and cooks of all skill levels should be able to find a doable dish among the 25 currently posted.

The Sacramento Vintage Cooking Challenge ends with Summer Reading on Friday, August 30, 2013.

June 5, 2013
Quality history videos available from Annenberg Learner

The West video.JPGReaders of this blog probably have heard of iTunes U, Apple's massive source of recordings of collegiate lecture classes, panel discussions and speeches produced by academic institutions in the United States and Britain.

But I bet you're unaware of Annenberg Learner. It's an impressive online collection of multimedia resources intended to help improve teaching across the K-12 curriculum. The core of the program are quality video series produced in partnership with WGBH, Oregon Public Broadcasting and other public media outlets.

Although designed for teachers, adult learners will enjoy the many video episodes on U.S., European and world history. Streaming versions of the programs are free and generally last about 30 minutes. (You can purchase them as DVDs.)

America's History in the Making: U.S. history from before Columbus through Reconstruction.

A Biography of America: U.S. history told as a narrative rather than a set of facts.

Bridging World History: Global history explained as a complex of interrelated patterns.

The Constitution -- That Delicate Balance: Key decisions, issues and controversies in U.S. legal history.

Democracy in America: Structure and dynamics of federal and state government.

Out of the Past: Archaeological and anthropological insight into the evolution of past civilizations into modern societies.

The Western Tradition: Development of Western civilization seen through its culture, politics, science and industry.

IMAGE CREDIT: "The West," an episode in Annenberg Learner's video series A Biography of America.

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 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 22, 2013
Library launches history tour of K Street for smartphones

SacQR code 1000 K.JPGSacQR, a historic tour of Sacramento's K Street mall for mobile devices, launches today. Those eager to see the old K Street alongside the new can now walk the mall on a self-guided history tour using their smartphones or other mobile devices.

QR codes at nearly two dozen businesses along K Street from 7th to 13th Streets link to historic photographs and postcards dating from 1900 to 1980. The images are from Sacramento Public Library's Sacramento Room Digital Collections and are accompanied by fascinating descriptions and audio narration. Participants can take the SacQR tour in any order, following the QR codes identified on the tour map, or they can visit for links to all locations.

SacQR is a project of Sacramento Public Library and was completed in cooperation with Turn Downtown Around, an initiative seeking to revitalize downtown Sacramento.

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)

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.

March 8, 2013
The California State Library celebrates Women's History Month, along with bridges and ferries.

In honor of Women's History Month, the California State Library and the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls have created a colorful online weekly calendar of women from California history who achieved success in science, technology, engineering or math - the STEM fields. These images and biographical materials are drawn from the California History Section's own collection with an emphasis on women in science and math professions, echoing the National Women's History Month effort to commemorate women in STEM professions who strode past barriers in pursuit of their dreams. For the third week in March, the calendar highlights a woman veteran for Women's Military History Week. Maggie Gee was a training pilot in World War II, serving as a Women's Air Force Service Pilot, known as the WASPs. Gee also spent 30 years as a research physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The online calendar can be viewed at

v1p265b.jpgAlso celebrating Women's History Month is a new exhibit in the State Library's first floor rotunda. "California Women in the War Effort" documents the role of California Women in the military during wartime, and also highlights women's efforts on the home front. Included in this exhibit are fascinating and often visually attractive magazine articles from the library's general collection as well as photographs, letters home, and assorted realia from the California History Section's special collections. Likewise on display are uniforms and posters on loan from the California State Military Museum.

Taking a different tack, the California History Section's featured book display for March is titled "Ferries and Bridges in California," and showcases books on bridges from the mighty steel triumphs crossing the Golden gate and San Francisco to the smaller drawbridges and covered wooden structures prevalent in California's rural areas. But before the construction of bridges, California's residents depended on ferries to cross the state's bodies of water. Larger boats were used on San Francisco Bay and San Diego Bay, but much simpler ferries served the Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta where bridges did not exist. Also on display are books on the river steamers Delta King and Delta Queen, which were technically not ferries but plied the bay and rivers nonetheless.2008-2619.jpg

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

January 21, 2013
Historical Sanborn maps of California now accessible online

Sacramento Sanborn maps.jpgThe Sacramento Public Library has purchased perpetual access to a vast database of California Digital Sanborn Maps, detailed fire insurance maps of California cities and towns dating from the 1880s to the 1960s.  The maps are now accessible to library card holders through the Sacramento Public Library website. Sanborn Maps are, as noted by ProQuest's Digital Sanborn Maps website, "a visual expression of history":

"Sanborn maps are valuable historical tools for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, environmentalists and anyone who wants to learn about the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods. They are large-scale plans containing data that can be used to estimate the potential risk for urban structures. This includes information such as the outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, location of windows and doors."

Sacramento County maps include Courtland (1919-1929), Galt (1884-1940), Isleton (1919-1931), Locke (1927-1930), Elk Grove (1884-1941), Folsom (1891-1942), Sacramento (1895-1952), North Sacramento (1926-1949) and Walnut Grove (1921-1933).

To access the maps and other useful library databases, visit the Research section of the Sacramento Public Library website. For information about Sacramento Public Library's access to Digital Sanborn Maps, visit or call (916) 264-2920.

January 2, 2013
SHH begins its third year

Old Bee Building.JPGThis blog begins its third year today. It's a good occasion to thank our tipsters (especially the regular ones) who sent us information about items of historical interest.

As mentioned in the first blog posting, the Sacramento region is blessed with extensive historical resources. And we're fortunate to have so many dedicated professionals and volunteers who preserve and make them available in museums, archives and libraries. Our local culture is that much richer for their efforts.

Sac History Happenings aims to support the history community by providing news about the latest exhibits, lectures, tours, meetings, as well as new research, publications and online resources.

SHH also supplements the Sacbee History Section. That web page features related articles written by Bee staffers as well as stories from the paper's wire services. It also contains links to essential historical sites, such as AP's Today in History chronology and the reader photo gallery (where you can display family snapshots of historical interest). If you're a Twitter user, the Bee's history section and blog share a combined feed: @Sac_History_Hap.

Finally I want to thank the blog's co-writers -- Michael Dolgushkin and Amanda Graham -- for their continuing help this past year. They're dedicated experts in the field of historic preservation and research. I much appreciate their professional work and their contributions to SHH.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Sacramento Bee was located on 7th Street between "I" and "J" Streets from 1902 until 1957. Bee archives

December 19, 2012
Track four decades of "Mark Twain on the Platform"

mark-twain.jpgThe great 19th century writer Mark Twain was a prolific speaker who took the stage for over 40 years in cities around the globe.

Now the Mark Twain Project of the California Digital Library has launched an interactive database containing information on every one of his lecture appearances. "Mark Twain on the Platform" lets users filter the information by several parameters: type (lecture or reading); event (lecture series); city; year and works read. There's also a digital world map pinpointing appearances.

As a younger man Twain spent a lot of time in Northern California and so it's not surprising that he spoke many times in the state. Did he ever come to Sacramento? Yes, twice:

1st Western Tour, Sacramento, Calif.
Date: Thr, Oct 11, 1866
Type: Lecture
Event: 1st Western Tour
Venue: Metropolitan Theater
City: Sacramento, Calif.
Works: Sandwich Islands Lecture
Source: Sacramento Bee, 12 Oct 66, 3

3rd Western Tour, Sacramento, Calif.
Date: Fri, Apr 17, 1868
Type: Lecture
Event: 3rd Western Tour
Venue: Metropolitan Theater
City: Sacramento, Calif.
Works: Pilgrim Life
Source: Sacramento Union, 18 Apr 68, 2

IMAGE CREDIT: "Mark Twain, America's best humorist," illustration by Joesph Keppler that appeared in the Dec. 16, 1885 issue of Puck. Library of Congress

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

August 30, 2012
Sacramento entertainment history explored in video interviews

William Burg.JPGLast Sunday local historian and preservationist William Burg surveyed the history of Sacramento's music and nightlife scene in a series of informative video interviews conducted by owner Alex Cooper.

Burg, who is author of four local history books including Sacramento's K St: Where Our City Was Born and Sacramento's Streetcars, explained the ups and downs of central city entertainment going back to Prohibition speakeasies, through the jazz era of the 40s-50s and into the rock period beginning in the 70s. He also noted the impact of the area's rich ethnic diversity on local music.

In a separate video, Burg described some of the highlights in the upcoming Sept. 16 Historic Home Tour sponsored by the Sacramento Old City Association (SOCA). This year the tour will focus on the Poverty Ridge neighborhood.

Here are links to SacTV's interviews with William Burg:

Introduction to Sacramento Scene History
Cultural Diversity
Sacramento Music of the 20th Century
Sacramento Scene 80s/90s
Sacramento Culture
SOCA Home Tour 2012

PHOTO CREDIT: Still of William Burg taken from the video recorded Aug. 23, 2012.

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.

August 10, 2012
Historical topographical maps now online

Brighton 1911.JPGU.S. Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps illustrate in great detail the geographical contours and natural and man-made features of this vast country.  While previously only available in printed form, the switch to digital has meant that 125 years of historical USGS topographic maps are now being made available online.  

Over the past two years, USGS has been converting historical maps from its Topographic Map Archive into a digital format (GeoPDF), and making them freely viewable through the USGS website.  More than 200,000 are now available to search, view and download. The map database serves as a valuable tool for those researching the changing geography of the Sacramento region.  And there are plenty of Sacramento-area maps to choose from: a quick search for Sacramento maps through the USGS Map Locator yields 28 maps of Sacramento-area quadrangles, spanning 1891-2012.

Visit The National Map website to learn more about the digitization of historical maps and other USGS topographic map projects. 

IMAGE CREDIT: Detail of Brighton Quadrangle, U.S. Geological Survey, 1911.

August 8, 2012
Three smart history podcasts

Symbol_Podcasting_00.pngThe Internet Age is a golden age for history buffs. Think of the sheer quantity of material -- lectures, conferences, books, articles, photographs, paintings, maps, census records, historic audio and video clips, all kinds of of primary and secondary resources -- available at the click of a mouse.

There are also podcasts devoted to history. Podcasts (for the uninitiated) are audio or video series produced by amateurs or professional outlets on every imaginable topic. Some are quite serious and educational, some very silly and superficial. You can get apps for your computer, smart phone or media player to automatically download new episodes of a podcast as soon as they're available.

Lately I've been enjoying three history-oriented programs that are smart, well-researched and thought-provoking. (I'm sure there are others. Share your favorites in the comment section below.) You can find these in the iTunes store. (They're free to download.)

BackStory with the American History Guys. Hosted by three experts representing the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, BackStory aims to bring a "historical perspective to the events happening around us today." Episodes take a contemporary political or cultural issue or trend and trace its evolution from colonial times to the present. Recent topics include: the concept of "American Exceptionalism;" the role of the Post Office in U.S. development; the changing character of courtship and marriage; and the continuing battle over teaching evolution in the schools. It's an engaging, well-produced series -- sort of history's answer to the science program RadioLab.

My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. My History examines the historical antecedents of today's hot political trends and debates. Host Bruce Carlson is articulate, well-informed and refreshingly neutral in his politics. His romps through American history often reveal lesser-known facts that cast a thought-provoking light on contemporary events. Recent topics include: choosing a Vice President; the legal history behind the Supreme Court's healthcare decision; Presidential communication; what Obama can learn from Truman's 1948 election; and the critical role of swing states in the 1912 election.

C-Span Lectures in History. Part of C-Span's American History TV series, Lectures in History lets viewers drop into a history class led by some of the country's top university professors. Recent topics include: the Great Migration from the South of African Americans in the early 20th century; the Truman/MacArthur conflict; socialism in America; political economy in the 1970s; and redistricting and gerrymandering in U.S. history.

July 24, 2012
Another chance to see "Rob on the Road's" visit to the State Library

In case you missed last night's Rob on the Road segment featuring a tour of the State Library's special collections vault, you can still watch it courtesy of KVIE. Click on the image below and visit the show's web site.

Watch Treasures of the California State Library on PBS. See more from Rob on the Road.

July 10, 2012
California's 1940 Census records now name searchable

1940 Census.jpgSome time last month the 1940 Census Indexing Project completed work on California records. What that means for the family historian is that valuable information on ancestors living in the Golden State in 1940 may now be found by name.

As explained in The Bee when the federal government made this census public in May, a researcher needed to know the address -- or at least the block -- of a person to retrieve the hand-written tally sheet containing the specific data.

With the hard work of countless volunteers who transcribed the tally sheets, the West Coast records are name searchable using the interface provided by FamilySearch. Here you can enter a name which can stand alone or be narrowed by state, county, city, gender, race or relationship to head of household.

What you get is a surprising amount of personal information. Take for example Eleanor Grace McClatchy, head of The Bee's parent company in 1940. Her Census record tells us her age (42), marital status (divorced), race (white), birth state (California), her status as head of household and the names and relationships of persons living in that household (a nephew, housekeeper and cook). If you call up the original Census record, you see her home address (2112 22nd St., now site of the Ella K. McClatchy branch of the Sacramento Public Library), as well as the names and addresses of neighbors. In addition, there is her occupation and employer (President, McClatchy Newspapers).

As of this date, most of the U.S. states have been 100 percent indexed. To see the status of your home state, visit the 1940 Census Project web site.

PHOTO CREDIT: In this file photo provided by the National Archives, an enumerator interviews a woman for the 1940 Census. AP Photo/National Archives at College Park

June 29, 2012
Transcontinental Railroad authorized by law 150 years ago

TRAIN DEPOT MURAL.JPGOne hundred and fifty years ago this Sunday President Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, which simultaneously chartered the Union Pacific Railroad and directed it to build a transcontinental train route in conjunction with the existing Central Pacific Railroad. As every history student knows, the UP would lay track heading west from Omaha and the CP would work east starting in Sacramento (at the foot of I Street to be exact).

Today Union Pacific (successor to both the Southern Pacific and Central Pacific railroads) celebrates its sesquicentennial year with, a  well-endowed website filled with historical information and photos. Particularly useful is the UP Timeline, which begins with the 1862 charter and ends with the 150 anniversary. In between are milestones in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad and subsequent mergers, acquisitions, expansions and technological innovations.

The company's main history site is a rich collection of interesting articles and images that includes documents, photo gallery and historical maps. The UP advertising posters are especially eye-catching.

PHOTO CREDIT: Portion of the mural painted in Sacramento's Amtrak Station that depicts the groundbreaking of the western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad on Jan. 8, 1863. 2000 Sacramento Bee photograph by Lezlie Sterling

June 28, 2012
John Muir's letters online

Muir_and_Roosevelt.JPGThere are some gems in Caliphere's latest "theme collection," The Letters of John Muir. Here you'll find important examples taken from the 6,000 pieces of correspondence sent and received by Muir from 1838 to 1914.

As a scientist, author and conservationist, Muir studied, celebrated and championed the natural world. These letters reflect his ongoing commitment to California's most beautiful (and fragile) wilderness areas -- notably the Yosemite Valley, which became an early national parks due in part by Muir's effective lobbying.

President Theodore Roosevelt was a powerful ally in the conservation movement. In May 1903 Muir spent three days camping in Yosemite with Roosevelt, whom he convinced to extend federal protection over the Valley and Mariposa Grove. Two months previously Muir wrote a graceful letter to the president saying that a prior commitment to go abroad wouldn't interfere with an invitation to go camping with TR:

Dear Mr. Roosevelt:

I sincerely thank you for the honor you do me in hoping I may be able to take you through the Yosemite. An engagement to go abroad with Professor Sargeant at first stood in the way; but a few small changes have brought our trip into harmony with yours. and of course I shall go with you gladly.

Faithfully yours,

Calisphere is web portal to the University of California System's vast collection of some 200,000 digital artifacts that include "photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifact." This free public resource reveals "the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.

PHOTO CREDIT: Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir survey the Yosemite Valley in 1903. Library of Congress

June 26, 2012
Local history research guides on Library website

Research Guides.JPGThe Sacramento Public Library website is often considered a library branch unto its own. Among its diverse digital offerings are Research Guides, extensive bibliographies on over thirty subjects ranging from genealogy to business statistics. Nine of the guides cover local history topics: Sacramento Neighborhood History, Native Americans, California Ghost Towns, Early Travels to and within California, Gold Mines and Mining, History of a House, History of the Gold Rush, and Sutter's Fort Characters.  The bibliographies reference a wide range of resources including books, periodicals, maps, reference files, and photographs, with links to catalog records and related websites.  In addition, the guides refer visitors to other libraries, archives, historical societies and associations that might offer further assistance.

Research Guides are available through the Services tab on the main library web page at

May 24, 2012
Free E-Book Celebrates Golden Gate Bridge

The California Historical Society has released a free e-book for iPads on San Francisco's Golden State Bridge, which celebrates its 75th anniversay this weekend.

The multi-media book, titled "A Wild Flight of the Imagination: The Story of the Golden Gate Bridge," features more than 350 historical photographs, artwork, memorabilia and stories.

You can download the document from the California Historical Society's website or get it free as an app from the iTunes store.

-- Sam McManis

April 26, 2012
This Week in History, Marysville style

Appeal Democrat.JPGA mainstay of community journalism, many newspapers run historical columns summarizing news stories from decades gone by. These generally spotlight items from past editions that are published at milestone intervals (25, 50, years ago, etc.). The availability of microfilm copies of the paper make these tidbits easy to find.

If you're interested in Yuba and Sutter County history, check out This Week in Local History, the Marysville Appeal-Democrat timeline feature. Each column references news stories from five, ten, 25, 50 and 100 years in the past, drawing on precursor papers the Marysville Appeal (founded 1860) and Marysville Evening Democrat (founded 1884). You can find past columns on the paper's web site.

The latest item from ten years ago concerned the brisk sale of the Sacramento Kings bobblehead dolls in town. Apparently the debut of last player doll -- Scot Pollard -- brought long lines of buyers to two Marysville-Yuba City Carl's Jr. restaurants. You have to wonder if Kings bobbleheads would generate even a quarter of the interest today.

Incidentally The Associated Press produces its own Today in History that is national and international in scope. You can browse about a year's worth on They include those celebrity birthdays you see on page A2 of The Bee.

PHOTO CREDIT: A section of The Appeal-Democrat from Dec. 1955 displaying the devastating flood that almost inundated Marysville. Courtesy Jerry Matthews

April 14, 2012
Titanic disaster had local connections

Sacbee Titanic.JPGAlthough it happened 100 years ago, the sinking of the "unsinkable" RMS Titanic continues to fascinate people all around the world. The appetite for the story has been fed by many books, movies, TV shows and documentaries chronicling the tragedy.

A quick Google search shows the surprising wealth of information about the liner, its passengers/crew and the circumstances that led to the death of 1,500 people in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. One website in particular, Encyclopedia Titanica, indexes information by place and reveals two local families connected to the disaster.

Stephen and Annie Holds were a British couple who immigrated to Sacramento. They were returning from an extended family visit in Cornwall, Wales. When the ship hit the iceberg Annie escaped on a lifeboat. Stephen did not. Annie returned to Sacramento and lived there for a few more years before moving back to Wales permanently.

Another victim was Herman Klaber, a Portland hops merchant returning from a long business trip in Europe. Waiting at home was his wife Gertrude, daughter of prominent Sacramento merchant Sam Kinsberg. Gertrude had urged Herman not to sail on the Titanic, it being on its maiden voyage. After the disaster, Gertrude and her young daughter lived in Sacramento for a time before moving to San Francisco.

The Davis Enterprise recently profiled Joan Randall, whose mother, grandparents, great aunt and uncle were steerage passengers on that fateful voyage. Only her grandparents and mother (age 4) survived. Randall has been the family's Titanic historian since her mom died in 1992. She has collected memorabilia and written on the subject, and she'll speak at the DMTC Performing Arts Center in Davis on April 25 after she returns from the 100th Anniversary Memorial Cruise. You can also hear Randall interviewed on the KXJZ Insight program.

While we're on the subject, check out The Bee's 100th anniversary Titanic photo gallery. It's filled with factoids and interesting images.

IMAGE CREDIT: April 15, 1912 front page of The Sacramento Bee. (Click on image for a bigger view.)

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 29, 2012
1940 U.S. Census going online April 2

schedule-closeup-l.jpgGenealogists and historians around the world are waiting with bated breath for the release of the 1940 United States Census on Monday, April 2, 2012.  At 9:00 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time), the National Archives will open free online access to the 1940 census population schedules at  Visitors to the website will be able to search, browse or download census schedules, maps and enumeration district descriptions. 

The 1940s census is highly anticipated both because it gives researchers a more recent snapshot and because of the depth of information gathered. In addition to the usual census questions (address, name, age, occupation, etc.), the 1940 schedule includes supplemental questions like name of informant, highest grade completed, county of birth, place of residence in 1935 and income.

In anticipation of the release, the National Archives has added 1940 census forms and information to its website and has posted a short behind-the-scenes video on YouTube showing the work that went into the census project and giving tips for searching the records after April 2. 

Press release

March 28, 2012
Nathaniel S. Colley history unveiled

In October 2010, the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) received the Nathaniel S. and Jerlean J. Colley Papers. On March 22, 2012, CSH staff unveiled a finding aid to these important records, as well as an accompanying online web exhibit, and short film.

As Center for Sacramento History Interpretive Specialist Heather Downey writes, "Nathaniel Colley, affectionately known by friends and colleagues as 'Nat,' devoted himself to the improvement of his community. As one of Sacramento's earliest African American lawyers, Colley spent 50 years helping to shape the course of social reform across Sacramento, California, and the nation.

A brilliant trial attorney, Nathaniel managed a successful Sacramento law firm, paving the way for groundbreaking anti-discrimination lawsuits and arguing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Together with his wife, Jerlean, Nathaniel raised five children and led numerous civic organizations. His legacy lives on in this collection, comprised of awards and accolades, photographs, and the insightful speeches, letters, and articles for which Nathaniel Colley was renowned."


The Colley collection documents the legal and civic activities of Nathaniel Colley, and is primarily comprised of speeches, statements, editorials, and publications. The finding aid provides a complete description of the collection, and is available through the Center for Sacramento History's website, as is the online exhibit, "The Time is Now: The Civic Life of Sacramento's Nathaniel Colley." The short film, seen above, is also accessible through the Center for Sacramento History's Youtube page.

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

March 19, 2012
A brief history of Beale Air Force Base

Beale002.jpgThe California State Military Museum recently posted a compact, but detailed, history of Beale Air Force Base (known at different times as: Camp Beale, Beale Air Force Military Reservation; Camp Beale Military Reservation; Air Force Facility S-2; Marysville Armored Training Camp; Beale Triangular Division Camp; and Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range).

The facility is named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a prominent surveyor, rancher, explorer and military leader who supplied the U.S. government with information about California during the mid-1800s. He later became a diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Austria-Hungry.

Camp Beale was established in 1942 as a training base for the 13th Army Armored Division. The nearby mining town of Spenceville was rebuilt as a mock German Village used by Beale soldiers to learn urban combat techniques. During World War II the facility also housed a German POW camp, chemical warfare school and military hospital.

In 1948 Camp Beale became Beale Air Force Base whose initial mission was to train bombardier-navigators. In subsequent years the base was home to various commands and aircraft, such as jet trainers (T-38), strategic bombers (B-52), airborne tankers (K135) and reconnaissance planes (U2 and SR71).

Today Beale is a part of the Air Combat Command (the merger of the Strategic Air and Tactical Air Commands) which supplies air combat forces to commanders in war zones.

PHOTO CREDIT: Some 48,000 people attended an Open House at Beale Air force base on May 7, 1976. In the foreground is the Lockheed U2 and to the right is the SR71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance aircraft. Sacramento Bee photograph

March 14, 2012
Sacramento's West End

WestEnd1.jpgSacramento's old West End is the subject of a new featured historic photograph collection in the Sacramento Public Library's website. The West End extended from the waterfront to about 7th St. between I and L. This was Sacramento's original business district during the eventful days of the Gold Rush. Names hallowed in California history such as Mills, Brannan, and Sutter were associated with the area and its buildings. In fact, "The Big Four" -- Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker -- planned the Central Pacific Railroad in this very neighborhood. The West End was truly the heart of Sacramento, but by 1950 the area, exacerbated by waves of foreign and domestic immigrants drawn to the city by World War II employment, had become an overcrowded slum, sometimes described as the worst skid row west of Chicago. During the late 1950s and early 1960s most of the West End was razed and redeveloped, although a two-block-wide sliver adjoining the waterfront survives today as Old Sacramento.

A look at the photos presented in this online exhibit provides valuable insight into the problems facing downtown today. They were taken about 1960 when the bulldozing of the West End had barely gotten underway, and show a neighborhood whose architectural integrity was mostly intact. Several historic hotels, among them the Western, the Golden Eagle, and the Dawson House, still existed along with the 1852 D. O. Mills Bank, the "Big Four" building, and others. The structures were certainly rundown but could have been rehabilitated. Indeed, The Bee warned in 1958 that Sacramento had been given an unparalleled opportunity to create a historic district which would rival that of New Orleans.

But it was not to be. Redevelopment was all the rage nationwide, with its associated "out with the old and in with the new" philosophy characteristic of the postwar era. Sacramento's answer to its downtown's ills was to build a shopping mall replacing the old retail districts on J, K, and L streets, which would presumably bring back the old customers who had fled to the suburbs. The anchor tenant of this development, Macy's, insisted that it would not build in downtown Sacramento unless a freeway offramp was located conveniently nearby, meaning that Interstate Highway 5 was built east of the river rather than west. Fortunately, the freeway took a swing east to preserve Old Sacramento rather than barrel straight along the river and cut the city off from its waterfront.

WestEnd2.jpgSo what do we have today? A rebuilt but half-empty shopping mall located in the middle of a moribund downtown that no one seems to really know what to do with. Sacramento could have possessed a world-class tourist attraction, but chose instead to follow the call of "progress." Old Sacramento does an admirable job of contextualizing its old buildings and sites, but the entire old downtown could have more effectively presented the history and culture of Sacramento and California (as well as that of the varied ethnic communities that resided within the West End).

Take a look at these photos and their accompanying captions at (the upper photo presented here shows the old D. O. Mills Bank building at 226 J Street with a redevelopment project sign attached, while the lower image shows the old Merchant's Exchange Hotel at 114-120 I Street). Then visit Old Sacramento to enjoy what we have left, and imagine what might have been.

March 7, 2012
Bay Area TV archive is a portal to the past

RFK in Sac.JPGThere's nothing like old broadcast recordings to conjure up historical moments. So we're fortunate to have the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, a collection of "over 4000 hours of newsfilm, documentaries and other programs produced locally in the Bay Area and Northern California between 1939-2005." Founded in 1982, the TV archive is maintained by the Leonard Library at San Francisco State University.

The recordings document important local events and feature a variety of activists, politicians, entertainers and other celebrities, such as Joan Baez, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Unruh, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ken Kesey, George Moscone, and many more. About four percent of the footage (about 200 hours) have been digitized and is viewable for free on Archives website. Eventually the entire collection will be accessible online.

You can browse or search the whole collection by keyword and date. And you can also watch videos from the already-digitized online collections.

Among the 16 Sacramento-related videos that are online:

* News report on Robert Kennedy's campaign stop at the Sacramento Municipal Airport. May 16, 1968
* News report on the United Farm Workers protest in Sacramento. April 10, 1966.
* Interview with Gov. Ronald Reagan. Jan. 16, 1969.
* Press conference with Secretary of State Jerry Brown. April 9, 1970.

IMAGE CREDIT: Robert Kennedy shakes hands with well-wishers at the Sacramento Municipal Airport. From the May 16, 1968 news report by CBS5 KPIX-TV.

March 1, 2012
Roots Cellar debuts its web site redesign

Last week Root Cellar, the Sacramento Genealogical Society, launched a redesigned, easier-to-navigate web site. Check it out. It's loaded with useful information and links for the family historian.

There's a calendar of upcoming meetings and classes, an online catalog for the group's Library and a helpful bibliography of essential genealogical resources on the Internet.

March 1, 2012
Library of Congress historical maps online

California_1650.jpgThe Library of Congress digital collections represent a broad sampling of the institution's vast physical holdings. They include newspapers, photographs, films, audio recordings, and an impressive collection of U.S. maps from the Library of Congress Geography and Map Division which date from the discovery and exploration of the nation and cover a wide range of topics.

Among the Library of Congress online collection includes many maps that would be of particular interest to researchers of Sacramento and California history. The collection is broken down into six categories: Cities and Towns, Cultural Landscapes, Conservation and Environment, Military Battles and Campaigns, Discovery and Exploration, and Transportation and Communication.  Highlights include a ca. 1650 pen-and-ink and watercolor map of California shown as an island, detailed bird's-eye sketches of dozens of California cities (1850s-1900s), and railroad maps showing transcontinental and California lines.

Maps can be searched by topic, date, location, creator or title, and almost all are free of copyright restrictions. All of the online Library of Congress geography and map collections are available at

IMAGE CREDIT: [Map of California shown as an island], Joan Vinckeboons, ca. 1650. Henry Harrisse collection ; v. 2, map 10. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division, Washington, D.C.

February 29, 2012
The Japanese internment remembered in Bee news story and photos

Internment.JPGFeb. 19 was the 70th anniversary of Executive Order 9066. Signed by Franklin Roosevelt a few months after U.S. entry into World War II, the document authorized the removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast.

The Bee observed this milestone with an article by Anita Creamer that examined the lasting psychological impact of the internment on the children of those who were evacuated to remote camps. Some researchers believe the wartime experience of parents have left scars of low-level depression and insecurity on the next generation.

The story is accompanied by two large photo slide shows.

Executive Order 9066: Legacy of Shame includes many historic images of interned Japanese by the renowned photographer Dorothea Lange. There are also contemporary pictures by the Bee's Paul Kitagaki, who has embarked on an ongoing project to photograph veterans of the camps and their descendents.

Unknown Japanese Internment Photographs contains over 200 historic pictures by Lange, Ansel Adams and others. Many of the people in these photographs are unidentified. If you recognize any of them, please contact Paul Kitagaki at The Bee.

PHOTO CREDIT: Nisei, second generation Japanese Americans of the Mochida family are Hiroko Mochida, 69, and seated Miyuki Hirano, 72, photographed May 21, 2006. The Mochida family operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in the Eden Township, now Fremont, Calif. Their father, Moriki Mochida raised snapdragons and sweet peas. They were interned at the Tanforan Assembly center and the Topaz Interment Camp during WWII and when they returned they had lost their business and had to start over. Copyright 2012 by Paul Kitagaki Jr.

February 29, 2012
Two valuable sites for California black history study

MLK at CSUS.JPGAs Black History Month comes to an end, I ought to mention two valuable online resources for students of California African American history.

The first is African Americans in California, a comprehensive timeline prepared by the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. It begins way back in 1781 (when 46 individuals -- 26 or whom were black or mulatto -- first settled Los Angeles) and proceeds through the Spanish Period (1769-1821), the Mexican Period (1821-1848) and the U.S. Era (1850-present).

Second is Calisphere, a digitized repository of California-related photographs, documents, artworks and other artifacts that includes a themed collection on the state's African Americans. The images and narrative are organized in chronological sections: 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). There are also links to material dedicated to important people and events in California black history.

Incidentally, The Bee recently posted its own photo gallery of prominent African Americans in state and local history. We know it's not complete. Share your suggestions (with justifications) in the comments below.

PHOTO CREDIT: Martin Luther King speaking at California State University, Sacramento on October 16, 1967. Sacramento Bee photograph by Erhardt Krause

February 15, 2012
Your chance to be true to your zoo

Zoo entrance.jpgHere's a surprising entry for a preservation contest: the entrance to the Sacramento Zoo. It's competing for a $10,000 grant offered by Dwell Magazine.

What makes these buildings so special? It's the hyperbolic paraboloid roofline (hypar for short). That saddle shape found its way into much of 19th and 20th century architecture. Built in 1961, the zoo structures are an interesting example of what's called the Mid-Century Modern style.

Dwell Magazine will choose from the top ten most voted for entrants in its Rethinking Preservation contest. The Zoo Entrance is our region's only submission. You can support the local effort by registering your vote on the Dwell website.

Eichlerific blogger Gretchen Steinberg has been drumming up support for the project. She's posted some interesting historic images of the Entrance in a recent posting, as well as helpful background on the hyperbolic paraboloid in architecture. You can also see more photos of hypar buildings on her Flickr page.

PHOTO CREDIT: December 2011 photograph of the Sacramento Zoo Entrance by Gretchen Steinberg.

February 9, 2012
Online hydraulic mining exhibit

hydraulic.JPGBefore a federal court ended the practice in 1884, hydraulic gold mining in the Mother Lode exacted a terrible environmental cost on the downstream rivers and farmland.

To help visitors better understand this era in mining history, the Gold Country Museum in Auburn rebuilt its exhibit on hydraulic extraction (the use of water jets to sweep away whole hillsides to get at the ore).

If you're unable to see the exhibit in person, check out the online version on the Placer County Museums' blog. Six diorama-like displays explain in detail the technique and its impact.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of powerful hydraulic hoses being used in gold mining operations.

January 20, 2012
UC Libraries digital book collection
Hunt Jackson.JPG

The University of California has launched a reprint service that provides access to digitally scanned "rare, out-of-print, and hard to find books" from its library collections. You can purchase printed and bound copies of these titles. In addition, you can read hundreds of out-of-copyright books for free online.

Note that these electronic volumes contain images of each page. So what you see is the original typography (which may be hard to read), not generic flowing text (such as displayed in a device like the Kindle).

The UC LIbrary Reprints website has a handy search interface for finding books by author, title, category and description word. Here are just a few volumes related to California history and historical fiction that can be read online:

History of Santa Cruz County, California (1892).
Rezanov by Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton (1906).
The founding of Spanish California by Charles E. Chapman (1916).
Three years in California, 1846-1849 by Walter Colton (1852).
A history of the College of California by Samuel H. Willey (1887).
History of early California journalism by Ralph S. Kuykendall (1918).
California, romantic and resourceful by John F. Davis (1914).
Glimpses of California and the missions by Helen Hunt Jackson (1914).
A brief history of astronomy in California by William Wallace Campbell (1913).
Stories of California by Ella May Sexton (1902).

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.

January 3, 2012
Happy Birthday to Sac History Happenings

Old Bee Building.JPGThis blog turns one today. It's a good occasion to thank all our tipsters, especially the regular ones, who sent information about items of historical interest this past year.

As mentioned in the first blog posting, the Sacramento region is blessed with extensive historical resources. And we're fortunate to have so many dedicated professionals and volunteers who preserve and make them available in museums, archives and libraries. Our local culture is that much richer for their efforts.

Sac History Happenings aims to support the historical community by posting news about the latest exhibits, lectures, tours, meetings, as well as new research, publications and online resources. Occasionally we'll spotlight existing collections of high value and interest. Every Sunday you'll see a brief profile of an important figure from Sacramento history.

SHH also supplements the Sacbee History Section. That web page features related articles written by Bee staffers as well as stories from the paper's wire services. It also contains links to essential historical sites, AP's Today in History chronology and the reader photo gallery (where you can display family snapshots of historical interest). If you're a Twitter user, the Bee's history section and blog share a combined feed: @Sac_History_Hap.

Finally I want to thank the blog's co-writers -- Rebecca Crowther, Michael Dolgushkin and Amanda Graham -- for their help this first year. All three are experts in the field of historic preservation and archiving and I much appreciate their professional work and their contributions to SHH.

PHOTO CREDIT: The Sacramento Bee was located on 7th Street between "I" and "J" Streets from 1902 until 1957. Bee archives

December 22, 2011
Holiday Cheer at the State Library

Go into the California State Library's website, or directly to this YouTube link, to see a video presentation featuring holiday-related ephemera from the California State Library's extensive collection. Among the items shown are menus, greeting cards, invitations, and brochures from the legendary Santa's Village. Stop by the library's website, or by the library itself and get into the holiday spirit!

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.

December 14, 2011
UC Press e-books viewable on the Web

williebrown.jpgAmong the growing body of scholarly publications that have been digitized for electronic consumption is the University of California Press E-Books Collection, 1982-2004.

Maintained in collaboration with the California Digital Library, the Collection contains almost 2,000 electronic editions of academic titles published by UC Press. All the e-books are freely available to UC faculty, staff, and students. And the public may view more than 25 percent of the online books for free.

The Collection is easily browsed by author, title and/or subject via the search interface. There are over 500 books in the field of history. Among the 68 volumes related to California that might interest you:

Contested Eden: California before the Gold Rush (1998)
Taming the elephant: politics, government, and law in pioneer California (2003)
A golden state: mining and economic development in gold rush California (1999)
California progressivism revisited (1994)
Days of gold: the California Gold Rush and the American nation (1997)
Gold: the California story (2000)
Railroad crossing: Californians and the railroad, 1850-1910 (1994)
Working people of California (1995)
Willie Brown: a biography (1996)
Battling the inland sea: American political culture, public policy, and the Sacramento Valley, 1850-1986 (1998)
Sierra crossing: first roads to California (1998)

December 2, 2011
Sacramento yearbooks online through Public Library

More than 100 yearbooks from SacramenReview.jpgto-area schools (1898-1949) are now available to search and view online through the Sacramento Public Library's recently upgraded Sacramento Room Digital Collections website.  Visitors to the site can search the yearbooks by keyword and view high-resolution images of every page. The yearbooks are from the collections of the Sacramento Public Library and the Center for Sacramento History, and ten local junior and senior high schools are represented, including Sacramento Senior High, McClatchy High, San Juan Union High and Christian Brothers School, as well as California Junior High and David Lubin Junior High. 

The Sacramento Room Digital Collections is an ongoing project made possible by generous funding provided through the Sacramento Public Library Foundation. Since the project began in 2009, around 2,000 photographs, 800 postcards and 50 menus have been digitized. Collections are managed, stored and made available through OCLC's CONTENTdm digital collection management software.

PHOTO CREDIT: Cover of Sacramento Senior High School Review (February 1920). From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

November 6, 2011
National Register of Historic Places is more than pretty buildings

Sutter's Fort 2.JPGIn today's Bee Sam McManis explores the National Register of Historic Places, the coveted distinction granted to treasured sites deemed worthy of preservation. Administered by the National Park Service, the listing "is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources."

As McManis explains, not all NRHP sites are stately old buildings. Some are bridges, factories, ships and archeology mounds. Some aren't even visible, having been torn down, burned, submerged or buried.

The four-county region is home to over 100 designated sites. Many are concentrated in Sacramento's central city. You can browse the local list geographically with The Bee's interactive map. If you'd like search for U.S. historic places by name or location, check out the NRHP online database.

Just for the fun of it (and because newspapers love rankings) The Bee asked three local experts to help compile the "Top Ten Historic Sites" in the region. This was hardly a scientific survey. We just asked our judges to pick out ten items from the Register which are the most recognizable, interesting and visually striking. There was general agreement on several of the usual suspects: Old Sacramento, Memorial Auditorium, Tower Bridge, Locke Historic District, Sutter's Fort, Delta King, etc. You can see the finalists in this Sacbee photo gallery.

Many thanks to the following people for taking the time to assist The Bee with the NRHP story: Marcia Eymann, Sacramento City Historian; Roberta Deering, Senior Planner for  Historic Preservation, Sacramento Community Development Department; and Dr. Robin Datel, Professor and Chair, CSUS Geography Department.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sutter's Fort Central Building. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Manny Crisostomo

October 21, 2011
KXJZ interview spotlights new Donner Party book

DONNER2.JPGWhether members of the Donner Party, trapped in the Sierra in 1846-47, engaged in cannibalism continues to be an unsettled question. Last year news media reported a study of bones at the Alder Creek campsite found no evidence of the practice. Though some jumped to the conclusion that cannibalism never happened, many experts -- based on survivor accounts and other documentation -- continue to believe it did occur to some extent.

A new book, An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party's Alder Creek Camp, examines old data and recent research using methods of history, ethnohistory, archaeology, bioarchaeology and social anthropology to shed new light on the controversy.

KXJZ's Jeffrey Callison interviewed the authors during yesterday's Insight radio program. They explain that the scientific evidence is more complicated and less conclusive than is commonly thought.

PHOTO CREDIT: James F. Reed and his wife, Margret W. Keyes Reed were survivors of the tragic Donner Party, who were stranded in the Sierra Nevada during the heavy winter of 1846-47. Associated Press/Utah State Historical Society

September 30, 2011
Capradio's Insight visits the Governor's Mansion

Gov Mansion.JPGBroadcasting live from the Governor's Mansion, Insight (the KXJZ daily interview program) devoted last Tuesday's show to the state parks that are slated to close due to California's budget crunch.

Host Jeffrey Callison discussed the pending park closures and their implications with Director of the Department of State Parks, Ruth Coleman, and the District Superintendent for the Capital District of California State Parks, Catherine Taylor. He also spoke  with Bob and Debra Warren, the son and granddaughter of former governor Earl Warren, about prospects for keeping the Historic Governor's Mansion open.

Later Callison was led through a tour of the Mansion by long-time docent Albert Howenstein. A video recording of this part of the program is available on the Capradio web site. There you can also view vintage photos of the 1877 home, as well as images of other houses used as governor residences.

Bee columnist Dan Walters was also on hand to describe the homes, ranches, mansions and lofts that governors lived in since the Governor's Mansion stopped being the executive residence.

PHOTO CREDIT: Historic Governor's Mansion. 2006 Sacramento Bee photograph by Jose Luis Villegas

September 29, 2011
Community leaders read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

TomSawyer.jpgA reminder that the online readings of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer begin today. You can see and hear community leaders read chapters from the Mark Twain classic on your computer. Access Sacramento and The Bee teamed up to produce the series. And every day from Sept. 29 through Oct. 31 you'll find new chapter texts and recordings.

Celebrity readers include McClatchy CEO Gary Pruitt; Bee Publisher Cheryl Dell; KFBK news anchor Kitty O'Neal; novelist John Lescroart; Mayor Kevin Johnson; Public Library director Rivkah Sass; and Sactown magazine co-editor Elyssa Lee. Today's readings feature U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, Sacramento Society for the Blind Reader Abe Sass, Bee Executive Editor Joyce Terhaar and Twain impersonator McAvoy Layne.

The videos supplement this year's Big Read / One Book Sacramento, the Public Library's annual city-wide literature appreciation program. The Library system will host 75 related events at 28 locations starting with the kick-off lecture tonight by Twain scholar and editor Michael Hirst

What: "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. Robert Hirst of UC Berkeley, the editor-in-charge of "The Autobiography of Mark Twain." Also actor McAvoy Layne as the "Ghost of Mark Twain."
Where: Tsakopoulos Library Galleria, 828 I St., Sacramento.
When: Sept. 29, 6 p.m. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. The event is open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis.
Cost: Free
For more info:  (916) 264-2920, (916) 321-1128,

September 28, 2011
A blogger's history lesson in Old Sacramento

mural.jpgSacramento Connect partner Jeremy Branham of the Budget Travel Adventures blog says his appreciation of history has grown since he began traveling. Every new place offers some insight into the past. That's especially true for his recent visit to Old Sacramento which is a virtual portal back to the Gold Rush and the Old West.

While strolling under Interstate 5 to get to K Street Mall, Branham was surprised to find a large mural chock-full of information on Sacramento history and the people who shaped the shaped the city.

This Historical Timeline of Sacramento was produced in 1999 by the Center for Sacramento History (then known as the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center) in collaboration with the Sacramento Downtown Development Group. According to Patricia Johnson, CSH Senior Archivist, the Center convened "a committee of men, women, local historians, and prominent members of the community representing a variety of ethnic groups to determine the individuals depicted on the wall." Mural portraits were then drawn by local artist Bob Miller.

The exhibit is intended to stand on its own, says Johnson, but people are encouraged to visit the Sacramento History Museum to further their knowledge.

PHOTO CREDIT: A portion of the Sacramento History Timeline mural underneath Interstate 5. See Budget Travel Adventures for more mural photos. Courtesy of Jeremy Branham

September 21, 2011
New online library offers historic Sacramento city public records

Sacramento city officials have unveiled a new online collection containing more than 100,000 public records, including Meeting minutes, resolutions and city ordinances passed by the City Council going back to 1921. Other types of documents, such as building permits and board/commission minutes will eventually be added.

The City of Sacramento Records Library may be accessed via the Basic or Advanced Search interfaces. With simple search you just type in a word or phrase. The advanced search lets you modify keyword searching with date range, type of material (ordinance, resolution, etc) and legislative body (Council, Planning Commission, etc.). The records appear in PDF format.

This is certainly a useful resource for those researching neighborhood histories.

August 24, 2011
John Muir letters featured in Calisphere themed collection

MuirPortrait.jpgCalisphere very recently announced the release of a new Themed Collection featuring the Letters of John Muir (1838-1914).  The collection of 22 letters draws from over 6,500 pieces of Muir's correspondence that were digitized and made available through Calisphere and the Online Archive of California in October 2009. Letters from the renowned California naturalist were selected to document three of his roles: Scientist, Writer, and Activist. In addition to images and transcriptions of the letters themselves, the themed collection includes a biographical sketch and links to Analysis Tools.

The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley and the University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections contributed the complete collection of Muir's correspondence. The project was supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

PHOTO CREDIT: John Muir, 1838-1914 (by Edward Hughes, ca. 1902). Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-53148.

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

June 14, 2011
Test yourself with the sample U.S. history exam

News outlets are reporting that U.S. children continue to perform poorly on standardized history tests. In fact American students are less proficient in history than in any other subject, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. In the 2010 exam only 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors scored at a proficient level.

I'll leave the hand-wringing to the experts. But I challenge blog readers to answer the sample questions from the NAEP history test. You can choose items from the Grade 4, Grade 8 and Grade 12 level exams. Here's one from Grade 12 that Californians will appreciate:

Question 3 of 5

American social development has been continually beginning over again on the frontier. The expansion westward with its new opportunities, its continuous touch with the simplicity of primitive society, furnishes the forces dominating the American character. The true point of view in the history of this nation is not the Atlantic coast, it is the Great West.
- Frederick Jackson Turner, 1893

Turner made his speech about the importance of the American frontier partly in response to

A.   the closing of the frontier recorded in the 1890 census
B.   United States efforts to limit European immigration to frontier regions
C.   the elimination of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment
D.   the great numbers of western pioneers who lost their farms

The answer is A. (See Turner's complete essay "The Significance of the Frontier in American History.")

June 3, 2011
Sacramento Public Library to digitize local yearbooks

Review 1921.jpgThrough generous funding from the Sacramento Public Library Foundation, the Sacramento Public Library's Sacramento Room will begin the next phase of its ongoing scanning project this June - the digitization of 100 yearbooks from ten local schools (1902-1949). Full-text searchable yearbooks will join the 3,000 historical Sacramento-area photographs, postcards and menus already available online through the Sacramento Room Digital Collections.

The 100 yearbooks chosen for this project offer an invaluable window into nearly 50 school years at some of Sacramento's most notable institutions, including Sacramento High School, St. Joseph's Academy, San Juan Union High School and C. K. McClatchy High School. They contain portraits useful in identification; descriptions of curriculum, clubs and activities; poetry, art and articles by students; and personalized notes and drawings that make each copy unique.

Backstage Library Works will provide scanning services and the collection will be hosted through CONTENTdm digital collection management. The collection should be freely accessible online by September 2011.

PHOTO CREDIT: Front cover of the February 1921 Sacramento High School Review.  From the Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library.

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 17, 2011
The Crest Theatre's premiere

crest.JPGIf you're a fan of classic movie palaces, you'll appreciate "1949: Crest Theatre's Gala Premiere," a recent posting on the Eichlerific blog. Supplemented with vintage photos, advertisements, news clippings and video, the article describes the grand re-opening of the Crest on Oct. 6, 1949. The event was a huge deal for Sacramento, attracting more than 5,000 people including movie stars and prominent city and state officials. It's a nice bit of research and worth a look.

Eichler.JPGEichlerific, Eichler Homes in Sacramento is dedicated to the Mid-Century Modern single-family houses built in California by the Joseph Eichler company starting in the late 1940s. These bold, distinctive homes were inspired by modernist architects in particular Frank Lloyd Wright. The mission of the blog is to celebrate the legacy and historical context of these unique residences in the region.

PHOTO CREDITS: The Crest Theatre on K St. 2010 Sacramento Bee photo by Andy Alfaro. Interior of an Eichler home in South Land Park. 2004 Sacramento Bee photo by Owen Brewer.

April 25, 2011
Colorful carousel animals grace the Placer County Museums

postcard5.jpgA Leap of Imagination, the newest exhibit at the Placer County Museums, boasts a zoo full of beautifully painted antique carousel animals. In addition to a herd of horses, there swans, bears, rabbits, tigers, camels and other critters. Check out the photos in the Museum's blog.

What: A Leap of Imagination
Where: Placer County Museum (Historic Courthouse), 101 Maple St., Auburn
When: Open everyday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm; closed Holidays
Cost: Free
For more information: (530) 889-6500
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The latest edition of The Placer, the Placer County Museums' newsletter, contains an interesting article describing travel along the Auburn-Sacramento Road in the 1850s. According to historian Ralph Gibson, it took ten hours for the average wagon to make the 45-mile trip. The road started out as a miners trail used to bring supplies to the upper foothills. It evolved into a dirt thoroughfare that became a muddy mess in the rainy season.

April 13, 2011
Sac History Happenings now on Twitter

Thumbnail image for twitter.jpgFollow us on Twitter! It's a convenient way to keep up with news and events in Sacramento's history community. You'll not only be alerted to new items in this blog, you'll also see headlines of recent history-related Bee stories.

Check it out at:

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

Take 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's uploaded some interesting examples from his photo 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". Thanks!

April 5, 2011
Sacramento Modern Architecture, movie night at the Crocker

Modern Architecture enthusiasts won't want to miss the special screening of "Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman," which plays this Thursday night at the Crocker Art Museum. The film "celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, whose photographs brought modern architecture and progressive architects into the American mainstream."

Presented in collaboration with the Crocker, SacMod (the group that brought you last summer's incredibly successful Sacramento Mid-Century Home Tour), and the American Institute of Architects Central Valley, the film has some local significance, as Shulman photographed at least one building in town-- The National Youth Admistration building designed by Richard Neutra.

Gretchen Steinberg, a founding member of the SacMod group explains additional significance that the film has to our community, "I think the film highlights the importance of great design and underscores the need for further celebration, education and preservation of our excellent mid-20th century architecture. The architects that Shulman worked with believed they could change the world through better design. That spirit and excitement is alive and well here in Sacramento's design community; I would like to see it ecouraged and nurtured." Those who are interested in discovering more about Shulman's photographic work, Mid-Century architecture, and Modern designers should plan on seeing the one-night screening of "Visual Acoustics." For those interested in local Modern architecture, Steinberg's "Sacramento Mid-Century Modern" blog is certainly worth checking out.

"Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman" plays at the Crocker Art Museum on Thursday, April 7 ("Thursdays 'til 9") and has a run time of about 80 minutes. Director Eric Bricker will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. Admission is $6 for Crocker Members, $12 for Non-members.

March 31, 2011
Cesar Chavez: some online resources

Chavez.jpgLast Sunday some 400 union members, friends and family braved the wind and rain to commemorate the birthday of Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers. The actual state holiday is March 31, which would have been the 84th birthday of the civil rights leader.

The Internet has an abundance of valuable historical information on Chavez and the farmworkers. Here are some highlights:

Cesar E. Chavez Research Center. The California Education Department's repository of essays, interviews, documents, photographs and letters related to Chavez and the UFW.

Resources for the Public. A California Education Department collection that includes a biography, speeches, interviews, newspaper articles, documents, tributes and scholarly articles.

Calisphere Cesar Chavez materials. More than 1,600 photos, posters, letters, interviews and other documents.

Center for Sacramento History. Online catalog of images, many from The Sacramento Bee.

FBI Records. FOIA documents on Chavez and the farm labor movement.

Fight in the Fields. Timeline, quotations and historical articles that supplement the PBS documentary film on Chavez and the farmworkers' struggle.

PHOTO CREDIT: Robert Kennedy joins Cesar Chavez at the end of his 1968 fast in Delano. Photo by the San Jose Mercury News.

March 30, 2011
The Sacramento Public Library joins the Online Archive of California

Appleton coll.JPGThis week the Sacramento Public Library joined the Online Archive of California (OAC), an online searchable database of finding aids to archival collections from around 200 California repositories. 

The Sacramento Room at the Public Library has a few dozen small archival collections from local individuals and organizations, the bulk dating from 1880-1920. In addition, the Sacramento Room maintains the Sacramento Public Library records: blueprints, clippings, reports, minutes, scrapbooks, newsletters, photographs, and more - about 150 linear ft. of material covering past and present library branches and dating back to the founding of the Sacramento Library Association in 1857.  Finding aids to the small collections will be made available through the OAC over the next few months.  A guide to the records of the library will be online this summer.

To view finding aids for Sacramento Room collections, visit the Sacramento Public Library OAC page.  Visit to search collections from other California repositories.

PHOTO CREDIT: A box and its contents from the Appleton Family Papers (MC 7).  The finding aid to this collection is currently available through the OAC. Photo by Amanda Graham.

March 29, 2011
Secrets of Sacramento's Vault

Have you ever wondered what sort of unusual or mysterious items might be held at the City's archives? If so, here's an opportunity for you to find out. By "liking" the Center for Sacramento History's Facebook page, you will receive a fun and informative weekly update called, "Secrets of the Vault."1978-x-04-003.jpg

Each and every Tuesday, Center staffers post an image of a recently-discovered object or photograph to the Archive's Facebook page. The "discoveries" include lesser known images or artifacts from the City's collections.  

Past posts have featured images of an acrobatic squirrel performing at the State Fair, local boxing champion Pete Ranzany, Sacramento High School's 1935 Glee Club, and Iselton's turn-of-the-century one-room schoolhouse.

This week's post is of a 1950s era advertisement for the Sacramento Bee's bygone feature "California Country Life." It provides a glimpse into the past- a time when the newspaper cost just ten cents.

IMAGE CREDIT: Center for Sacramento History, City of Sacramento Collection, 1978-x-04-003.

March 24, 2011
The Remarkable Women Trail

Amy Tan.JPGBefore Women's History Month ends, we ought to spotlight a slick web exhibit profiling some of the notable women who helped shaped modern California.

With photos, videos, timelines and biographical sketches, The Remarkable Women Trail celebrates 15 individuals who contributed in a variety of ways -- not only to the state -- but to the nation as a whole. Featured are writers Joan Didion and Amy Tan, artists Mabel McKay and Ruth Asawa, and philanthropists Concepcion Arguello and Bridget Mason. Astronaut Sally Ride, labor activist Dolores Huerta, pioneering chef Alice Waters and tennis great Billie Jean King are also included.

Remarkable Women Trail is hosted on the California Museum web site. This online resource complements California's Remarkable Women, one of the museum's current exhibitions that chronicles the lives of some 200 people.

California Museum
1020 O Street, Sacramento
Hours: Mon-Sat 10-5 pm, Sun 12-5 pm
Contact: (916) 653-7524 or email 

PHOTO CREDIT: Internationally acclaimed author Amy Tan. Photo by Robert Foothorap.

March 21, 2011
Jim Henley's "Small Bites of Sacramento History"

In the early 1960s, a Sacramento State graduate student by the name of Jim Henley had two choices. He could either earn midterm credit in his public history course by taking a written examination or he could participate in the difficult cleanup of a burned-out building in Old Sacramento. Surprisingly, the young man opted to do the grueling hands-on work. 

The less conventional approach to coursework not only introduced Henley to the profession of historic preservation, it gave him his first taste of the seedier side of Sacramento's then "skid row". Only moments after arriving at the field site for the first time, Henley witnessed a horrific altercation between two men that eventually led to murder. Despite the fact that Old Sacramento was quite rough in those days, Henley recognized its positive potential.

Over a period of forty years, Henley grew from an inspired graduate student to the primary advocate for Sacramento history, eventually becoming official City Historian. He played an active role in the establishment of Old Sacramento as an historic district, helped build the Sacramento History Museum, and oversaw the development of the City's archives, currently known as the Center for Sacramento History

In the accompanying video, James E. Henley, who retired from the role as City Historian in 2007, discusses one of fifty-five "Small Bites of Sacramento History." In this installation, he provides the background story to Sacramento's central city gridded street pattern.


Over time, Sac History Happenings will feature additional segments from "Small Bites of Sacramento History." Henley's "bites" may also be accessed through the Center for Sacramento History's YouTube channel. 

March 18, 2011
Visit the National Archives at San Francisco for regional history

sf-regional-archives.jpgThe National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is headquartered in Washington, D.C., but in addition to its facilities in the Capital area, the agency operates presidential libraries and records centers across the country. San Francisco (San Bruno) is home to one of the Pacific Region records centers and is a worthwhile destination for anyone researching genealogy or looking for historical records from Federal agencies and courts in Northern California.

The National Archives at San Francisco has archival holdings dating from the year California joined the Union (1850). These holdings include documents, photographs and maps, and cover a range of topics of particular interest to our region, including Asian immigration, migrant labor camps, public land use, WWII employment, agriculture, aviation and mining. The records center also receives copies of many significant National Archives publications on microfilm, which include records that support the study of U.S. history, political science, genealogy and more since the Revolutionary War. In addition, the Archives provides access to extensive genealogical holdings such as census, naturalization and military service records.

For more information and to begin your research at the National Archives at San Francisco visit or call (650) 238-3501.

PHOTO CREDIT: National Archives at San Francisco facility in San Bruno, California. Courtesy of

March 17, 2011
Guide to online death indexes

Local genealogists will want to know about an online guide to searchable death indexes and records, which can be accessed at This site provides links to indexes for every state, including California, as well as some for selected major urban areas in the United States, among them Los Angeles, New York, and St. Louis.

While we're on the subject, remember that you can browse current Sacramento area news obituaries and paid funeral notices on The Bee's web site.

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 11, 2011
Internet Archive offers wealth of Sacramento history resources

illustratedhisto00davis_0005.jpgPerhaps one of the most useful sites for accessing public domain print resources on early Sacramento history is the Internet Archive. In addition to capturing and preserving Internet sites, the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization founded in 1996, has spent years building an impressive digital library that draws from the collections of numerous repositories and digital libraries. Contributors include Harvard University, the Library of Congress and Project Gutenberg.

The Internet Archive is the home to nearly three million texts, half a million movie recordings and over 800,000 audio recordings, all in the public domain and freely accessible. Items of particular interest to those researching Sacramento history include early county histories, biographies of Sacramento-area pioneers, and transcripts of hundreds of oral histories captured by the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library. Visitors can conduct full-text searches and view titles using a special in-browser interface, or they can choose to access documents in a variety of other formats including PDF, ePub (for most e-books) and Kindle.

Visit to search the Internet Archive and to learn about other Internet Archive projects.

IMAGE CREDIT: Title page of An Illustrated History of Sacramento County, California by Winfield J. Davis, 1890.

March 4, 2011
WWII casualty lists now online

honorlist.gifGenealogists and military historians will appreciate the online availability of World War II-era casualty lists that have been scanned by the National Archives.

The War Department published these booklets in 1946 with the "intent was to disseminate the information to the general public in a timely manner, for the benefit of next of kin, and even with an eye towards the needs of veterans and patriotic organizations". Each volume covers an individual state and may be retrieved and browsed using the Archival Research Catalog.

The Army and Navy Departments issued separate and differently organized lists. The Army series is entitled World War II Honor List of Dead and Missing Army and Army Air Forces Personnel. Organized by county, these state booklets lists the names of soldiers and airmen who died (or were missing) during the war along with their serial numbers, ranks and types of casualty (KIA, MIA, DOW, etc.).

The Navy version, entitled State Summary of War Casualties, displays the dead and wounded among the sailors, marines and coast guardsman who served. These state volumes are organized by casualty type, then alphabetically by name. The entries include rank and the name, address and relationship of next-of-kin.

March 3, 2011
Sacramento Public Library shares history through Flickr

1929 Children's Reading Room.jpgThe Sacramento Public Library joined Flickr this week with a fun selection of photographs spanning eight decades of the Library's history. The featured images capture library life from 1908 through 1988, and include views of early reading rooms, card catalogs, librarians, library programs and community events. Visitors to the Library's Flickr photostream can revisit library branches no longer in operation and see a few examples of obsolete library technology.

All of the images featured on the Sacramento Public Library Flickr page were selected from the Sacramento Public Library records, which is comprised blueprints, clippings, reports, minutes, scrapbooks, newsletters, photographs, and more - about 150 linear ft. of material covering past and present library branches and dating back to the founding of the Sacramento Library Association in 1857.Thumbnail image for 1964 Reference Desk.jpg

PHOTO CREDIT: Girls in Japanese dress celebrate the Japanese Feast of Girls in the Children's Room at the Main Library, 1929 (Top right); Irma Grimshaw mans the Information Desk at the Main Library, 1964 (Bottom right).  Both photographs are courtesy of the Sacramento Public Library.

March 1, 2011
Online exhibit launches for Placer's Bernhard Home

Bernhard.JPGOne of the oldest surviving buildings in Auburn is the main house of what is known as the Bernhard Museum Complex. Built in 1851 as the Traveler's Rest Hotel, it became home to the Bernhard family in 1868, who later added a vineyard and winery on the grounds. The 2.3-acre complex opened to the public in 1982. It now consists of a residence, wine storage building, wine processing building, and a barn.

Bernhard is part of the Placer County Museums Division. To give interested people more access to permanent and temporary collections of the six museums administered by the agency, the Division created a blog for online exhibits. Last month it featured photographs showcasing the five upstairs bedrooms of the Bernhard home. Aside from the rooms themselves, you'll get a closeup look at vintage clothing, furniture, toys and other antique items.

Bernhard Museum Complex
Location: 291 Auburn-Folsom Rd., Auburn                                                                     
Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm; closed Holidays
Admission: Free
To Schedule a group tour: Call (530) 889-6500

PHOTO CREDIT: Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of Collections at the Bernhard Museum Complex in Auburn, looks over a child's bedroom in the House Museum. 2009 Sacramento Bee photo by Lezlie Sterling

February 28, 2011
Women's History Month celebrated throughout Sacramento

During the month of March, museums and libraries throughout Sacramento will offer up a series of educational exhibits and on-line tools in honor of Women's History Month.

The Sacramento History Museum will host the traveling exhibition, California Woman Suffrage. Developed by the International Museum of Women, the ten panel show celebrates the 100 year anniversary of the California CSH, 1861 City Directory.jpgwoman's right to vote. The small exhibit is designed to introduce visitors to the monumental victory that the women of this state achieved when they won the right to vote after over forty years of intense struggle. This exhibition runs from March 3, 2011 through May 2011.

In addition, the California Gallery at the Sacramento History Museum, which currently hosts exhibits related to Sacramento's role in the California Gold Rush, will emphasize women's experiences during this period. Through images and artifacts, the display will highlight the arduous journey that gold-seekers, settlers, and their families embarked upon in hopes of making a new life in California. This exhibition runs from March 3, 2011 through May 26, 2011.

Along with these two exhibits, the website for the California State Library will feature an informative page-a-day calendar dedicated to the history of women in California. According to the California State Library site, their click-able calendar will allow web visitors to "find out about some of the California women and events that have transformed our state." The useful interactive tool utilizes images and ephemera from State Library collection.

PHOTO CREDIT: An image used in the Sacramento History Museum's "California Gallery" exhibit which depicts an early Sacramento woman's role as business owner and entrepreneur. Courtesy of the Center for Sacramento History, from the 1861 Sacramento City Directory.

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 17, 2011
Shasta Dam history shared in two upcoming lectures

SHASTA DAM.JPGCalifornia wouldn't be California without the Central Valley Project to control and store water for cities and farming. A key component of the system is Shasta Dam which was completed in 1945. If you want to know more about the construction of this engineering marvel, consider a drive up to the Shasta Dam Visitor Center where there will be history talks offered on Feb. 19 (1:30 pm) and Feb. 23 (3:00 pm). There's a nice writeup on the lectures by the Redding Searchlight.

The program is jointly sponsored by the Shasta Historical Society, the Shasta Lake Heritage and Historical Society and the U.S. Reclamation Bureau Northern California office. The three groups are digitizing a collection of 12,000 images documenting the building of the dam. A lot of them are already available online through the SHS searchable photo database.

PHOTO CREDIT: Shasta Dam and reservoir as seen from the Shasta-Oroville transmission line structure No. 5 on March 28, 1945. Sacramento Bee file photo.

February 11, 2011
Civil liberties historians to speak at Manzanar "Day of Remembrance"

preview.gifFeb. 19 marks the 69th anniversary of the Executive Order 90066, the presidential directive that authorized the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans during World War II. It's also the Day of Remembrance at the Manzanar National Historic Site, one of the internment camps.

This year authors Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi will speak on civil rights struggles in the state's history. Their 2010 book, Wherever There's a Fight; How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, "captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era." Lectures are scheduled for Saturday, February 19 and Sunday, February 20 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 the Manzanar Interpretive Center. Manzanar is located at 5001 Hwy. 395, six miles south of Independence, Calif.

If you can't get over to Manzanar, you can meet the writers at two upcoming appearances in the region: March 5, 7 p.m. at Davis Avid Reader, 617 2nd St.; and March 6, 4 p.m. at Sacramento Avid Reader, 1600 Broadway. Both readings are free and open to the public.

Incidentally, the Wherever There's a Fight website has some useful historical resources, including Resources for Educators and a California Civil Liberties Timeline.

February 10, 2011
Six important figures in Sacramento black history

observer.JPGIn their continuing coverage of Black History Month, Sacramento Press reporters have posted brief profiles of six individuals who figured prominently in city's African American community.

Featured are: William Alexander Leiderdorff, a major landowner in the 1840s; Archy Lee, a Mississippi slave who fought for freedom after moving to Sacramento with his owner; Nathaniel Colley, civil rights activist and one of the city's first black lawyers; Bill and Kathryn Lee, co-founders of the Sacramento Observer; and Ray Charles, the city's first black fire chief.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sacramento Observer co-founders William and Kathryn Lee have designated their son, Larry Lee (left) to be the publication's next publisher. They are pictured in a meeting room of the Observer's office in 2000. Sacramento Bee photo by Chris Crewell.

February 8, 2011
Introduction to Contributor Rebecca Crowther

My name is Rebecca Crowther and I am an Associate Archivist at the Center for Sacramento History (CSH.) I'm really excited to be joining the group of writers and archivists that contribute to Sac History Happenings. I've been following the blog from its start and already see what a valuable resource it is. It helps keep local history buffs informed about history-related events in our area, but also has the potential to introduce non-history types to significant stories from Sacramento's past-- and to provide them with tools to learn even more.

I should mention a few things about myself. I'm a local gal, born and raised in the Sacramento region. I've called everywhere from Roseville to Clarksburg home, and as a child, cruised the streets of Citrus Heights by bicycle and crossed the Freeport Bridge by foot. I've taken in much of our local surroundings, often with a camera in tow. I received my very first point-and-shoot when I was 12 years old and it was at that young age that I realized the unique magic that takes place within a camera. It snaps up a single moment and captures it for all time. This life-long fascination with documentation now works in to my career.

One of my primary professional responsibilities is to care for the photographic collections at the Center for Sacramento History (CSH). I'm also responsible for making CSH's historic images available to the public. Along with photographs, CSH (a Sacramento City and County funded agency) holds governmental records, private manuscript collections, moving image collections, and an impressive array of museum artifact collections. These holdings are held in the public trust and are available for research or are on display throughout the community.

CSH2.jpgCSH is open for research by appointment only. You may call (916) 808-7072 to speak with an archivist about scheduling an appointment during normal research hours. We also have a website where a small amount of research may be conducted on-line.

We encourage you to browse the website or give us a call. We'd be glad to assist you.

February 7, 2011
Ronald Reagan's California governor archives

reagan.jpgAs the state and nation commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Reagan, it's a good opportunity to browse his presidential archives for materials related to his tenure as California's 33rd Governor (1967-74).

The Reagan collections at the University of Texas include extensive gubernatorial document files covering both official and political activities: speeches, public statements, press conference transcripts, budget documents, staff and Cabinet papers, schedules, correspondence, etc. There are also audiotape recordings of the Governor's speeches, press conferences, TV appearances, interviews, etc.

Unfortunately there is a limited (though growing) number of items that are available in full online. But you will find about a dozen transcripts of key speeches and public statements, including inaugural addresses and messages on crime, college tuition and water.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Ronald Reagan walks into the California Assembly chamber to deliver his State of the State address. Behind him at left is Assemblyman Robert Monagan of Stockton, Jan. 9, 1968. Sacramento Bee photo by Frank Stork.

February 3, 2011
California Ephemera Project online

CaliforniaEphemeraProject.JPGThe California Ephemera Project (CEP), a joint effort of several San Francisco institutions to provide access to their extensive California ephemera collections, has completed its work and uploaded twelve finding aids through the Online Archive of California (OAC). 

The California Historical Society; San Francisco Public Library; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society; and Society of California Pioneers were chosen as the initial partners for the 2009-2010 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to provide access to collections of California ephemera. In the past two year, they have processed and described more than 600 linear feet of ephemeral material.  The project website gives an overview of the collections:

The ephemera collections described span from 1850 to the present, and contain advertisements, announcements, brochures, catalogs, menus, pamphlets, billheads, theater programs, clippings, bylaws, flyers, tickets, travel guides, and more. Collections represent California businesses, associations, schools, institutions, and clubs; events ranging from world's fairs and earthquakes to parades and protests; buildings and structures, including the construction of Bay Area bridges; and extensive biographical files on both well-known and little-known Californians.

Collection guides are searchable through the new project website at Those interested in reading about the behind-the-scenes work that has gone into the project can check out the CEP blog at

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 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 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 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 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 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
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 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
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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