Events Calendar


The Impact of Early Afro-Mexican Settlers in California
Wednesday, May 20, 2015. 6:00pm
The Impact of Early Afro-Mexican Settlers in California

Free for CHS Members; $5 General Admission


Mexicans of African descent were some of the first non-Indian settlers in California. Many came from Sinaloa and Sonora, Mexico, with the Anza Expedition, 1775, and helped to shape the character of California, building and establishing pueblos and ranches that grew into towns like Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey, and San Jose. Several became wealthy landowners and politicians, including Pío Pico, the last governor of Mexican California.

Professor Carlos Manuel Salomon, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University, East Bay, and author of Pío Pico: The Last Governor of Mexican California (University of Oklahoma Press, 2010), will speak.

In partnership with the Mexican Museum.

The City Luminous
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Third Thursdays–Extended Gallery Hours and The City Luminous Launch

Free Event

From 5:00pm to 8:00 pm, enjoy extended gallery hours to view City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair. At 7 pm toast with us to the launch of The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation, a projected light piece by Kerry Laitala and the latest installment in the Engineers of Illumination series. The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation pays tribute to the innovative lighting design of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) of 1915. At 8 pm, step into Annie Plaza for a short talk with artist Kerry Laitala.

Presented in partnership with the Yerba Buena Cultural Benefit District. Yerba Buena Third Thursdays is a monthly outing of art, performance, music, and drinks in the Yerba Buena neighborhood in the heart of downtown San Francisco. For information on other participating venues, visit

Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Labor Collections at the California Historical Society

Free Event - First Come, First Served

Anarchists and radical socialists, quacks and demagogues, politicians and accommodationists, craft and industrial unionists, women activists and ordinary workers—all have contributed to the distinctive character of the California labor movement. In a belated celebration of May Day, archivist and manuscripts librarian Marie Silva will present an illustrated talk on CHS's labor-related collections, focusing particularly on the political radicalism—and racism—that defined the California labor movement’s formative years.

The presentation will be in CHS’s North Baker Research Library.

Labor in San Francisco Before and After 1915
Thursday, May 28, 2015, 6:00 – 7:00pm
Labor in San Francisco Before and After 1915

Free for CHS and Shaping San Francisco Members; $5 General Admission


Sixty years after "the world rushed in" to California seeking gold in 1849, the working men and women of San Francisco responded to the disaster of 1906 by rebuilding their city in record time. Join us for a panel discussion on the city's distinctive labor and working class history from the "Gay 90s" to the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and beyond to the "Roaring 20s." Panelists: Barbara Berglund is the Historian for the Presidio Trust. She is the author of Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the American West. Chris Carlsson, co-director of the multimedia history project Shaping San Francisco (historical archive at, is a writer, publisher, editor, and community organizer. He has written two books, After the Deluge and Nowtopia. Susan Englander is on the faculty of San Francisco State University and currently teaches California History and the US History Survey. She is the author of "‘We Want the Ballot for Very Different Reasons': Clubwomen, Union Women, and the Internal Politics of the Suffrage Movement, 1896-1911" in California Women and Politics: From the Gold Rush to the New Deal. Bill Issel is professor of history emeritus at San Francisco State University and visiting professor of history at Mills College. He is co-author of San Francisco, 1865-1932: Politics, Power and Urban Development and author of Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in 20th Century San Francisco.

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Thursday, June 4, 2015, 6:30pm
What do we hold onto? What do we let go of? Arc:Hive and A Moment (Un)Bound

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Interdisciplinary artist Lessa Bouchard presents the process of creating the ensemble play, A Moment (Un)Bound. This play explores the tension between the analog and digital, our desire to remember, to preserve, share and protect the artifacts of the past and the need to experience things firsthand, for ourselves, in the present. The whimsical masks, text, and themes are inspired by the notes and clippings left behind in the books donated to the Friends of the Palo Alto Library, by explorations into the use and reaction to Google Glass technology, and by Bouchard's "Offline," an installation of hanging bookshelves built to explore Robert Darnton's "instability of texts."

Lessa Bouchard explores issues of memory, place, and identity through performance, writing, and video installation. She received an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College Chicago and a BFA in Theatre from the University of Detroit Mercy, and has produced, directed, taught, and performed at various theatres and cultural institutions in the Midwest and the Bay Area for 20 years. Currently she leads Arc:Hive, a storytelling collective, in developing A Moment (Un)Bound, created as part of the 2014 foolsFury Factory Parts in San Francisco and Dragon Second Stages in Redwood City.

This event is the first program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories
Wednesday, June 10, 2015, 6:00pm - 7:30pm
California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories

Historypin Pinning Party
Free event, but space is limited
Doors open 5:45pm
Program begins 6:00pm

Join us for the first in a series of statewide events for a new online, crowd-sourced mapping project called California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories—an online archive of memories, stories, and images related to sites throughout the Golden State associated with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) experience.

Bay Area lesbian history will be the focus of the first California Pride pinning party, although all LGBTQ stories are welcome. In April 2015, San Francisco saw its last full-time lesbian bar, the Lexington Club, close its doors for good—leaving the city without a lesbian bar for the first time since the 1940s. The site of another beloved gathering spot, Amelia’s on Valencia Street, is threatened with demolition.

The pinning party will begin with a short presentation by the Lexington Club Archival Project. Attendees will learn how to “pin” their favorite LGBTQ historic sites to the California Pride map.

California Pride can help bring awareness to the powerful, diverse stories that make up LGBTQ history — from major events to commonplace histories of daily life. People with stories, photos, flyers, and other ephemera associated with Bay Area LGBTQ history are invited to help build this on-line archive as well as those interested in learning more about preserving California’s LGBTQ history and what that means.

For more information on California Pride visit or contact

Third Thursdays
Thursday, June 18, 2015, 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Third Thursdays—Extended Gallery Hours and Celebrating Pacific Island Art Series

Free Event

Exhibition viewing begins at 5:00pm, presentations at 5:30pm

As part of the Celebrating Pacific Island Art (CIPA) Series, Kua`aina, an Indigenous Arts and Cultures non-profit, presents two artists from American Samoa who bear their cultural traditions. Regina Meredith, a forth-generation Siapo maker (tapa/barkcloth), will present the traditions and trends of Samoan Siapo: Past, Present, and Future and take participants on a journey of siapo making, design motifs, and the perpetuation of an ancestral art form. Su’a Tupuola Wilson Fitiao, a Tufuga ta Tatau, a traditional Samoan Tattoo master, will share the history, format, and legacy of the Samoan traditional tattoo and his journey as a Tufuga ta Tatau (Samoan Tattoo Master). In addition, a collection of Siapo and Samoan fine mats from the deYoung Museum will be on display for public viewing and handling.

Regina Meredith is a professor of the Arts, at the American Samoa Community College and recently was a visiting scholar at the Smithsonian Institution of National History's Tapa Conservation Project. Su’a Tupuola Wilson Fitiao achieved his credentials by working alongside a master Tufuga ta Tatau, engaging in all aspects of the art form, which included the making of the tools from wild boar’s tusk and laumei.

The CIPA Series is a tribute to the role that the Pacific Island nations played in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and celebrates the vibrancy and rich cultural practices of Pacific Island peoples that continues to thrive in California today. The CPIA Series is presented by Kua`aina, an Indigenous Arts and Cultures non-profit based in Berkeley, CA.

Yerba Buena Third Thursdays is a monthly outing of art, performance, music, and drinks in the Yerba Buena neighborhood in the heart of downtown San Francisco. For information on other participating venues, visit

Wednesday, July 8, 2015, 6:30pm
The Walls Have Eyes: Animating Public Spaces

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Visual artist Ben Wood's lecture demonstration centers on two historic episodes in San Francisco's history. The first, a documentary/performance about British photographer Eadweard Muybridge via a magic lantern, brings the audience back to the experimental period of the 1870s, when Muybridge captured the horse in motion, produced an unprecedented San Francisco panorama, and seemingly got away with murder. The second focuses on a 10-year project to reveal an eighteenth-century mural hidden behind the altar at San Francisco de Asis.

Ben Wood, a British-born visual artist based in San Francisco, is a recipient of the California Governors Award for Historic Preservation for his work to preserve the late-eighteenth-century mural at Mission Dolores. He has exhibited internationally in Mexico City, London, and Honolulu. Since 2004 he has crated large-scale video projections on Coit Tower, Dewey Monument, and other San Francisco buildings. His talent for combining new media technology with historical subject matter provides faces and voices to forgotten individuals and an opportunity to reflect on the past in order to improve the future.

This event is the second program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Thursday, August 6, 2015, 6:30pm
The Photo as Object and Object as Photo

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Tim Pinault uses historical photography techniques to change the context of objects fraught with personal and cultural meaning. Interested in how photographs become cultural objects, Pinault will focus on how photographs are not only representations, but objects themselves. The medium itself can alter the meaning of the photograph.

Timothy Pinault is a San Francisco-based artist, educator, and archivist.

This event is the third program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

The Coney Island of the West: Alameda's Neptune Beach from the 1870s to the 1930s
Thursday, August 13, 2015, 6:00pm
The Coney Island of the West: Alameda's Neptune Beach from the 1870s to the 1930s

Free for CHS Members, $5 General Admission


Learn about Alameda's Neptune Beach, the "Coney Island of the West," and it's history as a pivotal attraction after the close of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Dennis Evanosky and Eric Kos, co-publishers of the Alameda Sun and co-authors of East Bay Then & Now and Lost Los Angeles, will present on west Alameda's bathing and beach resorts that established the Island City's recreational character beginning in the 1870s.

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Thursday, September 3, 2015, 6:30pm
History through Tin-Types

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Ed Drew uses the photographic process of tintype as a foil to reference American culture and history.

Drew's first body of work involved photographing his military unit in Afghanistan using the technique of wet plate tintype. Created in between the helicopter combat missions he flew as a combat search-and-rescue gunner, these photographs are the first made of American soldiers in war since the Civil War.

For his most recent work, Drew was commissioned by the Klamath tribes of Oregon in conjunction with Klamath Tribal Health services, which included Modoc tribal members who were relocated from their homelands in Tule Lake, California, after the Modoc War in 1872–73. The work speaks of a reflection of the past to show the progression of the contemporary, while redefining the tribal peoples' definition of self as strong, proud individuals.

Ed Drew was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and joined the military in 1999, two days after his eighteeth birthday. He has served for six years in the active duty Air Force and where currently serves in the California Air National Guard as a Staff Sergeant and helicopter gunner on Combat Search and Rescue helicopters stationed in Moffett Field, near Mountain View. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco Art Institute where he received a BFA majoring in Sculpture and minoring in Photography. He currently lives in the East Bay.

This event is the fourth program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Thursday, October 1, 2015, 6:30pm
Aura and the Spectacle of Light

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Electrophotography. St. Elmo's Fire. Kirlean imaging. All are names for an unusual type of photography in which a high-voltage electromagnetic discharge is used to expose film directly, without a camera. Filmmaker and photographer Kerry Laitala will present a lecture tracing this process to its origins in the 1880s, when Nikola Tesla captured images of his "Tesla Coil," discussing some of the beliefs that have sprung up around the process, and demonstrating how she utilizes it in her contemporary art practice.

Since 2010 Laitala has been exploring this process to create a body of work residing at the intersection between science and superstition, belief and manifestation. She electrifies materials ranging from vintage letter-press blocks to Mexican "Milagros" that are often left at churches and other places of worship. These objects, in the shape of hearts, legs, and kneeling forms, become talismans to help people with ailments, and to fulfill their desires. Laitala will show examples of these works as well as a video filmed in her South of Market studio about how she electrifies the objects to bring out the discharge, leaving its luminous trace on the surface of the film.

Kerry Laitala is an award-winning moving-image artist who uses analog, digital, and hybrid forms to investigate the ways in which media influences culture-at-large. Laitala's work involves science, history, technology, and her uncanny approach to evolving systems of belief through installation, photography, para-cinema, performance, kinetic sculpture, and single-channel forms. She is the current recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission's Individual Artist Commission to create and display a new series of electrophotographs.

This event is the fifth program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Transformations in SF Public Transit—Then, Now, Tomorrow
Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 6:00pm
Transformations in SF Public Transit—Then, Now, Tomorrow

Free for CHS Members, $5 General Admission


The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) celebrated the emergence of San Francisco from the devastation of the 1906 earthquake and fire, launching it as the most modern city in the world, an economic gateway between the United States, the Pacific, and Europe, and a cultural center. The Palace of Fine Arts and the Civic Auditorium are lasting monuments to the PPIE. An artistic and programmatic success, the exposition's financial success was dependent on its transportation system. Learn how PPIE infrastructure improvements have served San Franciscans every day for the past 100 years and how these arteries are being transformed today to serve us during the next century: Central Subway, Van Ness Avenue Bus Rapid Transit, and E-Embarcadero Streetcars to Fort Mason.

Panelists include: Grant Ute, historian and author of San Francisco Municipal Railway, Alameda by Rails, and San Francisco's Market Street Railway; Michael Schwartz, Senior Transportation Planner, San Francisco County Transportation Authority; and Tilly Chang, Executive Director, San Francisco County Transportation Authority. Greg King, Environmental Manager for Parsons Corp., will moderate.

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:30pm
Listening to History's Voice

Free for CHS members, $5 General Admission


Sound was first recorded and reproduced by Thomas Edison in 1877. Until about 1950, when magnetic tape use became common, most recordings were made on mechanical media such as wax, foil, shellac, lacquer, and plastic. Some of these older recordings contain material of great historical interest, may be in obsolete formats, and are damaged, decaying, or are now considered too delicate to play.

Unlike print and latent image scanning, the playback of mechanical sound carriers has been an inherently invasive process. Recently, a series of techniques, based upon non-contact optical metrology and image processing, have been applied to create and analyze high-resolution digital surface profiles of these materials. Numerical methods may be used to emulate the stylus motion through such a profile in order to reconstruct the recorded sound.

A number of recordings of particular relevance to early twentieth-century California have been restored using this approach. Included is a recording of Jack London from 1915 and a variety of California Native American field recordings. A new project is also underway at the University of California, Berkeley to digitize the 2700 Native American wax field recordings collected by Alfred Kroeber and coworkers.

The technical approach, the California collections, as well as studies of some of the earliest known sound recordings, are the focus of this talk and will be illustrated with sounds and images. Additional information can be found at

Carl Haber, an experimental physicist, received his Ph.D. in Physics from Columbia University and is a Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His career has focused on the development of instrumentation and methods for detecting and measuring particles created at high-energy colliders, including Fermilab in the United States and CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. Since 2002 he and his colleagues have been involved in aspects of preservation science, applying methods of precision measurement and data analysis to early recorded sound restoration. He is a 2013 MacArthur Fellow and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

This event is the sixth program in "Historic Techniques - A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

Food at the Fair
Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 6:00pm
Food at the Fair

Free for CHS Members; $5 General Admission


Food played a huge role at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Visitors to the fair learned about new fruit hybrids, cookware innovations, leading Napa wines, and many other wonders in the Palace of Food Products; they tasted the winners of culinary competitions, such as Larraburu sourdough bread; they snacked on enchiladas, chop suey, and clam chowder; and they explored San Francisco's restaurants during their stay in the city.

The Culinary Historians of Northern California is partnering with CHS to host a panel discussing the edible elements of the Exposition experience. Attendees will be offered light refreshments, including a sampling of relevant historic dishes. Panelists: Jeannette Ferrary, author of M.F.K. Fisher and Me: A Memoir of Food and Friendship, Out of the Kitchen: Adventures of a Food Writer, and The California-American Cookbook: Innovations on American Regional Dishes; Julia Lavaroni (grandniece of Harold Paul, the long-time owner of Larraburu Brothers Bakery), who is currently producing a film on San Francisco's iconic Larraburu bread, which won first place at the Exposition; and Erica J. Peters, Director, Culinary Historians of Northern California, and author of San Francisco: A Food Biography.

In partnership with the Culinary Historians of Northern California

Sponsored by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.

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