Events Calendar


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

$5 for CHS members, $10 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 a program in "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History."

History for Half-Pints - Crafty City
History for Half Pints at the California Historical Society
Saturday, September 12, 2015, 11:30am – 2:00pm
History for Half-Pints: Crafty City

Free with RSVP:

History for Half Pints is the California Historical Society's family program that occurs every second Saturday of the month. Come for the crafts and leave with some great history! This month we dive into the yesterday, today, and tomorrow of cities!

  • The Ball Park – design your own baseball player and take it home.
  • The Farmers Market - Become inspired by the food labels of California's past and design your own!
  • What produce would you sell?
  • The Type Studio – see what typographers have designed and create your very own font.
  • The Picnic – take a breather and read some California history picture books while lounging in our reading nook.
  • Dress-up Corner - Dive into history through dress up!
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) - A projected light piece by Ben Wood
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) - A projected light piece by Ben Wood
Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture) by artist Ben Wood
Thursday, September 17, 2015 5:00pm – 8:00pm
Third Thursdays at California Historical Society

Free Event

5:00pm–7:00pm: Enjoy free admission to our gallery and view our exhibition, City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair.

7:00 pm–8:00pm: Reception and gallery viewing of artist Ben Wood's projected light piece, Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture).

8:00pm: Artist talk in Annie Plaza. Ben Wood will be in conversation with Jack Fulton, a photographer who employs images and words. Fulton has worked in the medium since 1968. He is a Photography Professor Emeritus of San Francisco Arts Institute.

About Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture): Lopa Pikta is the latest installation in Engineers of Illumination by Optic Flare, a projected light series honoring the stunning achievements of the 1915 World's Fair. Lopa Pikta introduces the public to a Native American man called Ishi, who was the last native speaker of the Yahi Indians of Northern California. Ishi emerged from the wilderness into Oroville, California in 1911, at about 50 years of age, and became the subject of an extraordinary study at the University of California, San Francisco, where he lived until his death in 1916. Through films, photographs, and voice recordings of Ishi, anthropologists Alfred Kroeber and Thomas Waterman attempted to preserve the language, culture, and legacy of the Yahi people. Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture), the term Ishi used to describe motion pictures, presents a selection of the material resulting from this unique encounter. At the core of the video installation, which runs from August 20 to October 4, 2015, are audio recordings of Ishi, which the audience may listen to via their mobile devices as they view the installation from outside the building.

Artist Ben Wood describes his street-level installation as "a unique glimpse at Ishi in the city where he once lived."" The video includes an account of Ishi's meeting with members of the Blackfeet Tribe who were featured at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. To complement the archival footage—drawn from the collections of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley—Wood incorporates contemporary video of San Francisco locations Ishi frequented.

About Third Thursdays: 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

Engineers of Illumination is supported by a grant from the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015, 6:00pm
Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco
Book Talk with John King

Free for CHS and Heyday members, General Admission $5


The older buildings around us are provocative not just for their architecture, good or bad, but also for what they say about the way we live now, our values and tensions. That's especially true in San Francisco, says architecture critic John King as he shows how our culture is reshaping—and being shaped by—buildings ranging from beloved landmarks to once-scorned office towers.

John King is the San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic and author of the new Heyday book Cityscapes 2: Reading the Architecture of San Francisco. In 2013 he organized Unbuilt San Francisco, a multi-venue exhibition and programming project, and was co-curator of Unbuilt San Francisco: Ambition and Imagination at the Environmental Design Archives, UC Berkeley, College of Environmental Design.

Historic Techniques—Panel with California Artists
(Clockwise from top right) Kate Gibson's The Good Girl, Ben Wood's The Walls Have Eyes, and Leslie Morgan's Early Lesbians2
Thursday, September 24, 2015, 7:00pm
Historic Techniques—Panel with California Artists

Los Altos History Museum, 51 So. San Antonio Road, Los Altos

$5 for LAHM and CHS members, $10 general admission

RSVP: Call 650-948-9427 x14 and say you are a CHS member

Join us for a fascinating panel discussion with California artists working at the intersection of art, science, and history. As part of the discussion, the artists will show off their work. We'll finish the evening with a documentary/performance about British photographer Eadweard Muybridge, via a magic lantern, bringing the audience back to the experimental period of the 1870s when Muybridge captured a horse in motion. Panelists include: Hardy Jones, Leslie Morgan, Kate Gibson, and Ben Wood.

This program, part of "Historic Techniques—A Series about the Intersection of Art, Science, and History," is a partnership between the Los Altos History Museum (LAHM) and the California Historical Society (CHS).

Visitors at CHS's City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair
Visitors at CHS's City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 11:00am – 5:00pm
Smithsonian Magazine's Eleventh Annual Museum Day Live!

RSVP to receive free admission for yourself and a guest:

The California Historical Society is celebrating Smithsonian magazine's eleventh annual Museum Day Live! Come visit our exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World's Fair for free when you get tickets at the link above. Bring your museum day ticket and get a set of special postcards.

About Museum Day Live! A nationwide event, Museum Day Live! offers free admission to visitors presenting a Museum Day Live! ticket at participating museums or cultural institutions. Inclusive by design, the event represents the Smithsonian's commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone, providing museums across all 50 states the opportunity to emulate the admissions policy of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C.

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

$5 for CHS members, $10 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 a 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.

Season of the Witch by David Talbot
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 3:30pm – 5:30pm, doors open at 3:15pm
A Peoples Temple Discussion with David Talbot, Marshall Kilduff, and Jim Jones Jr. and Collection Viewing

$5 for CHS members, $10 General admission


The California Historical Society is happy to announce its participation in San Francisco Public Library's (SFPL) 11th Annual One City One Book with a public program that presents the history of Peoples Temple and Jonestown, key components of SFPL's 2015 Book Choice, Season of the Witch.

Join us for an engaging and thoughtful discussion about Peoples Temple and Jonestown with Season of the Witch author David Talbot, San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Marshall Kilduff, San Francisco business executive and son of Rev. Jim Jones, Jim Jones Jr., moderated by CHS Executive Director Anthea Hartig. Close the evening with a Season of the Witch book signing and a viewing of Peoples Temple and Jonestown letters, photos, and artifacts from the CHS collection.

Seeing Voices: Using Light to Restore and Preserve Early Sound Recordings
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 6:30pm
Historic Techniques—Seeing Voices: Using Light to Restore and Preserve Early Sound Recordings

$5 for CHS members, $10 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 a 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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