California Historical Society JULY 2013

Edw.H.Mitchell.001 Edw.H.Mitchell.004Edw.H.Mitchell.002
Minnesota has Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox. Florida has its gators, the world’s largest reptiles. And, of course, they say that everything is larger than life in Texas. But in California, home of the world’s tallest trees and an agricultural wonderland, it’s the plant life - cultivated or wild - that grows really, really big.
    Image manipulations began long before the digital magic of Photoshop made it possible for everyone to become visual fantabulists and tellers of tall tales. A prime example can be seen in the exaggeration (tall tale) postcards that first appeared in Fresno in 1905. The appeal of outsized produce and livestock struck a chord throughout the West, where many printers began publishing “Bunyonesque cards utilizing props and darkroom legerdemain,” as Lewis Baer of the San Francisco Bay Area Post Card Club has described the cards.
    CHS’s exaggeration cards are pristine, never-scribbled-on, and never-mailed examples of the maker’s craft. They are mostly the productions of the San Francisco printer Edward H. Mitchell. Part of CHS’s Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing, these and more postcards are accessible to researchers in the North Baker Research Library at our headquarters in San Francisco.
Amer Type Founders Co Kemble type specimen 2   Unidentified fisherman 2   Peoples Temple children  
California Past & Present(ly) Processed
The digital luxuries of Google fonts and websites like reveal how design continues to be inspired and influenced by the beauty and artistry of historic typefaces, but without the labor of a printing press for a finished product. Dedicated to the history of printing and publishing in the West, CHS’s Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing offers a wonderful sampling of type specimens that are sure to please and even amuse the contemporary designer’s eye.
year of the bay mystery photos

2013 is the Year of the Bay. To celebrate, CHS and the San Francisco Chronicle, in collaboration with local museums, libraries, archives, and historical societies, are offering our photography archives to an innovative crowdsourcing project at Help our collective understanding of Bay Area history by adding your knowledge, memories, and photos to the project. Together, we’re writing a new, richer, more diverse history of the San Francisco Bay.
  Digitizing History: the recent past

From the Peoples Temple Records, this amateur movie of children and the piggery at the Peoples Temple Agricultural Mission in Jonestown, Guyana was shot sometime between 1974 and 1978. This fascinating collection includes manuscripts, realia, photographs, ephemera, legal documents, court depositions, newspaper articles, and research materials. Most recently the collection was studied by members of the youth ensemble of Chicago’s American Theater Company in preparation for their performance of Leigh Fondakowski’s The People’s Temple, opening July 24.
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