With each new exhibition comes a flurry of public programs designed to help guests dive deeply into the core concepts within them. Each exhibition provides new opportunities for conversation and interaction between our audiences and our organization, the exhibitions, and each other. To better understand the final programmatic product let’s go back a bit and share how we design our exhibition-related public programs.
Around six to eight months before an exhibition opens, departments from across CHS sit down and discuss the exhibition and its core concepts. The curator(s) will present on the conceptual framework, key themes, and topics. Staff have the opportunity to pose questions as well as provide suggestions and insights. The Public Program Manager (me) then begins drafting program ideas to present to curators in a follow-up meeting. During that follow-up meeting, drafted ideas begin to harden and afterward I am able to begin reaching out to speakers and partners, further developing those ideas based on what the speakers’ expertise is and how they envision their place within the event. The collaborations between partners, speakers, and CHS staff are integral to the vibrant final product.
On March 21st, we opened two complementary exhibitions, Mark Ruwedel: Westward the Course of Empire and Overland to California: Commemorating the Transcontinental Railroad. Below is a brief rundown of some of our upcoming exhibition-related programs. We hope that you mark them on your calendar, as they are not to be missed!
Thursday, April 4th, 6:00 PM
Empire’s Tracks: Indigenous Nations, Chinese Workers, and the California RailroadProfessor of American Studies at Barnard University, Manu Karuka, will present on his new book Empire’s Tracks while focusing on indigenous experiences concerning the transcontinental railroad. He and Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University, Joanne Barker (Lenape), will be in conversation about indigenous history and counter sovereignty. A book signing will close the event. Learn more.
Thursday, April 18, 6:00 PM
Chinese and Chinese American Genealogies and the California Railroads
Wednesday, July 24, 6:00 PM
Labor Strikes and Fights and the Transcontinental Railroad
In 1969, during the 100th anniversary of the transcontinental railroad, Chinese American communities and descendants of railroad workers felt a disconnect and articulated that there was a lack of focus on their ancestors’ history and contributions. This year, during the railroad’s 150th anniversary, organizations and individuals from across California will be highlighting the important contributions of Chinese and Chinese Americans to the building and maintenance of the railroads.
CHS will be hosting several events to honor this important history, the first being on April 18th with presentations by Al Cheng, Grant Din, Sue Lee, and Paulette Liang. They will focus on how and why Chinese and Chinese Americans are seeking to find their connection to this work, examples of individuals who have found genealogical connections, as well as those who have sought out but did not find a connection. Learn more.
The second event will be held July 24th and focuses on key labor battles that involved Chinese railroad workers, including the historic eight-day strike in 1867. Gordon Chang and Lawrence Shoup will present on this event and other important labor battles in celebration of Laborfest, which occurs each July.
Wednesday, May 15th, 6:00 PM
Exploring the Gilded Age in California and its Reverberations Today
On May 15th we will explore the Gilded Age in California and its relationship to the Big Four, labor, and the railroads. How has the Gilded Age influenced what California is today? Learn more with moderator, William Frances Deverell (USC), panelists Richard White (Stanford), Margarite Shaffer (Miami University), Barbara Berglund Sokolov (Presidio Historian), and Jack Kelly (historian and author of Edge of Anarchy). Learn more.
Women and Their Role on the Rails
On June 27th, we explore the role women played (or did not play) in the railroads. How did imagery of wealthy white women tell a particular story about the railroad? How were women of color and people of color generally excluded from the transportation system? Professor Amy Richter of Clark University and Julia H. Lee of U.C. Irvine will present on these questions and be available to discuss other related topics after their presentations. Learn more.As we move deeper into the summer we will add additional programs, so continue to follow our Society Happenings e-newsletter and check out our online calendar at my.californiahistoricalsociety.org for more information.