Sac History Happenings

News and developments in Sacramento and California history

May 5, 2013
Valley to Vietnam interviews local veterans

v2v.JPGThis spring, Sacramento Public Library began sitting down with local Vietnam veterans for Valley to Vietnama new storytelling project that is capturing, preserving, and sharing the stories of those who grew up in the Sacramento area and served in Vietnam. The project has produced ten interviews thus far, and continues to seek participants interested in discussing their experiences at home and overseas.

Valley to Vietnam digital stories are available through the library's YouTube channel and on DVD. Access Sacramento has provided recording equipment through a partnership with Sacramento Public Library, and episodes of Valley to Vietnam air on the first Monday of each month, at 8:30 pm, on Access Sacramento's Channel 17.

To learn more about Valley to Vietnam or to suggest an interview, contact project coordinator James C. Scott,, (916) 264-2795.

May 3, 2013
Rail musueum offers photography workshop

Trains & Tripods1.jpgWith the usual crowds it's normally difficult to photograph the amazing exhibits at the California State Railroad Museum. But amateur shooters will have a chance to snap the trains before the facility opens next Saturday.

It's all part of a weekend photography event, which includes an optional lighting class on Friday conducted by former Sacramento Bee photographer Dave Henry.

Space is limited to 50 participants and advance registration is required.

What: Trains & Tripods Photo Opportunity & Lighting Seminar
Where: California State Railroad Museum, 125 I St. in Old Sacramento
When: May 10 & 11. Friday - 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. (Photography Seminar); Saturday - 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. (Shooting Workshop)
Cost: $35.00 per person Friday night seminar, $35.00 per person shooting workshop or $60.00 per person for both
For more info: 916-445-7373 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy California State Railroad Museum

May 2, 2013
Central Library to showcase 1940s Sacramento

K Street 1945.jpgRation Book.jpgThe Capital Decades series returns to Central Library this May with special programs and displays showcasing 1940s Sacramento:

City Life (Tuesday, May 14, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
Amanda Graham, Tom Tolley and James Scott will discuss what everyday life was like for Sacramentans during the 1940s.They will cover a wide range of topics, including social life and entertainment, the Sacramento homefront and contribution to the war effort, businesses, schools, transportation and post-war changes.

Fashions & Styles (Tuesday, May 21, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
The Sacramento Art Deco Society will direct a fashion show featuring vintage clothes and accessories of the 1940s.

Motion Pictures (Tuesday, May 28, 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.)
Local film historian Matias Bombal will share film clips and discuss the movie-going experience of the 1940s .

All programs will be held in the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria at 828 I Street.

Visitors to Central Library are also invited to view displays of 1940s material from the Sacramento Public Library and Sacramento Art Deco Society throughout the month of May. Subjects will include fashion, defense work, rationing, and Japanese internment.

For more info:; (916) 264-2920

May 1, 2013
More adults-only evening tours of Underground Sacramento

Thumbnail image for SAC UNDERGROUND.JPGThis summer the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation is offering more "adults-only" evening tours of the "underground" city. Led by knowledgeable docents in period attire, these special 90-minute excursions explore "some of the dark secrets and racy tales lurking in Sacramento's past."

Underground tours of Old Sacramento honor the amazing 19th century street-raising effort that protected the town from floods and thus created the excavated foundations and enclosed pathways we have today. Guests should be ready to walk in spaces with uneven surfaces and low ceilings.

What: Underground Adult Evening Tours
Where: Sacramento History Museum, 101 I Street in Old Sacramento
When: Thursdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m.(advance online tickets available now).
Cost: $20 (only guests 21 and older will be admitted)
For more info: 916-808-7059 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Benjamin Ismail as William "Mac" Gwin gives a tour of the B.F. Hastings building basement, a historically significant building in Old Sacramento. 2010 Sacramento Bee photograph by Michael Allen Jones

Read more here:

Read more here:
April 30, 2013
Congratulations to the California History Day winners

RB History Day 2.JPGNational History Day is a year-long competition in the area of historical research, writing and analysis (sort of history's equivalent of a science fair for primary and secondary school students around the country). Contestants who qualified at the regional level went on to compete at this past weekend's state gathering in Sacramento where winners were chosen for the national competition coming up in Maryland June 9-13.

This year's NHD theme is Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events. Students chose a related event from local, state, national or world history and presented their research in one of six formats: 2-D display, documentary video, exhibit, paper, performance or website.

Special kudos go to students in the Sacramento region who earned awards at the state meet:

Savannah Hill, a student at Spring View Middle School in Rocklin, runner up in the Junior Individual Documentary category for her entry Cesar Chavez and the UFW: The Harvest for Change.

Aishwarya Nadgauda, a student at Sacramento Country Day School, runner up in the Senior Individual Documentary category for her entry Setting off a Reaction that Changed the World Forever.

Evan Shen, a student at Winston Churchill Middle School, California History Junior Historical Paper Award for his entry, The Economic Impacts of the Transcontinental Railroad on the US.

Sara Warady, a student at St. Francis  High School, California History Senior Historical Paper Award for her entry, Art Saves: How Dorothea Lange Used Photography to Ameliorate the Lives of Okie Migrants During the Great Depression.

Jacqueline Holben, a student at St. Francis High School, Nikirk Memorial Art Award for her entry, The Funk Art Movement.

Congratulations to all the students who participated in California History Day!

PHOTO CREDIT: Bishop Union High School student Lara Stickells explains her two dimensional display to judges E. J. Renner, Anne Everton, and Dave Kahl during the National History Day state finals at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento. 2013 Sacramento Bee photograph by Randall Benton

April 30, 2013
California Missions exhibit begins at California Museum

Mission San Juan Cap.jpgToday the California Museum unveils its new year-long exhibition devoted to the 21 missions established in the Golden State from 1769 to 1823.

The Mission system established by the Franciscans was Europe's first attempt to settle the American West Coast. These outposts introduced livestock, farming and ranching to the state and played a pivotal role in California's development.

What: California Missions: A Journey Along the El Camino Real
Where: California Museum, 1020 O St., Sacramento
When: April 30 thru April 27, 2014. Monday, closed; Tuesday thru Saturday, 10 to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
Cost: General admission (18+), $8.50; college students & seniors (65+), $7; youth (6-17), $6; children (5 & under), free.
For more info: 916-653-7524 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Mission at San Juan Capistrano. The mission is said to be the oldest church in the West and the only remaining building in the United States where Father Junipero Serra recited Mass. 2004 AP Photo/Los Angeles Times photograph by Karen Tapia-Andersen

April 29, 2013
A sports-themed cemetery tour

Historic City Cemetery flowers.JPGThe Historic City Cemetery's 2013 tour season continues with a session devoted to three sports: boxing, bicycling and baseball. Visitors will enjoy a Springtime amble through lush gardens while knowledgeable docents tell stories about pugilists, ball players and cyclists who competed and excelled during Sacramento's early years.

What: General History Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: May 4, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated that will go to cemetery preservation and restoration.
For more info: 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811 or view website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Flower bed at the Historic City Cemetery in Sacramento. Courtesy Old City Cemetery Committee

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.

April 25, 2013
WPA Guide for California just reprinted

Among the many published items produced by the Federal Writers' Project during the Great Depression were a series of guidebooks for all 48 states. The American Guide Series featured in-depth essays on the history and culture of the state and descriptions of each city. Each guide also included tourist information and many photographs.

The UC Press has just released a new reprint of California's WPA guidebook. The volume describes "the history, culture, and roadside attractions of the 1930s." Although the material was written anonymously, some prominent authors are known to have contributed to the Guide. They include: Kenneth Rexroth, Harry Partch, Tillie Olsen and Kenneth Patchen.

California in the 1930s: The WPA Guide to the Golden State
Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration
reprinted by the UC Press
paperback, 756 pages
read an excerpt

April 24, 2013
80 years of San Francisco public art celebrated in new history

SFACcover_web800px-200-web.jpgPublic art reflects the character of a city. And a new history uncovers the vibrant, bold culture of San Francisco by examining 80 years of the city's public art. Beginning with the construction of Coit Tower in 1934, writer Susan Wels surveys the great sculptures, diverse music events and innovative community arts programs. Her book is richly illustrated with images by over a dozen photographers.

Wels is also author of Titanic: Legacy of the World's Greatest Ocean Liner, California Academy of Sciences: Architecture in Harmony with Nature and Amelia Earhart: The Thrill of It.

San Francisco: Arts for the City, Civic Art and Urban Change, 1932-2012
By Susan Wels
Hardcover, 224 pages, 175 color photos

April 23, 2013
Spring celebrated at Maidu Museum
Grindstone Dancers.JPG

The whole family will enjoy the Yomen (Spring) celebration at the Maidu Museum on Sunday.

Visitors will be treated with the traditional opening blessing, tribal dance, native art and craft demonstrations, storytelling, hand games and guided tours of the historic site. In addition there will be children's activities, vendors and Indian food for sale.

What: Yomen -- A Spring Celebration
Where: Maidu Museum & Historic Site, 1970 Johnson Ranch Drive, Roseville
When: April 28, 10 to 3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: (916) 774-5934 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Grindstone Dance Group at the Yomen Celebration in 2003, Courtesy Maidu Interpretive Center Museum

April 22, 2013
General history tour at Historic City Cemetery

Thumbnail image for General History by Anita Lincoln.jpgThis Saturday's Historic City Cemetery tour honors important the movers and shakers who helped develop Sacramento in its earliest days. As usual, knowledgeable docents will share fascinating historical insights about the city as they lead visitors past interesting grave markers and beautiful landscaping.

What: General History Tour
Where: Historic City Cemetery, 1000 Broadway, Sacramento
When: April 27, 10 a.m.
Cost: free, but donations appreciated that will go to cemetery preservation and restoration.
For more info: 916-264-7839 or 916-448-0811 or view website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Crocker family monument in Sacramento's Historic City Cemetery. Photograph by Anita Lincoln

April 19, 2013
Remembering 1963 at the Crocker Art Museum

Civil Rights march 1963.jpgReaders will share personal stories on the theme of Remembering 1963 & Civil Rights at the Crocker Art Museum on April 25 as part of TrueStory, a new local non-fiction reading series from the literary micro-magazine Under the Gum Tree.  Three featured readers will share their stories and attendees will have the opportunity to sign up for 5-minutes of open mic. This is the kick-off event for the reading series, and is held in conjunction with a new exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum, Rebirth of a Nation: Thomas Somerville's 1963, which will be on display through May 5.

What: Truestory: Remembering 1963 & Civil Rights
When: Thursday, April 25, 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Where: Crocker Art Museum, 216 O Street, Sacramento
Cost: $5 for museum members; $8 for nonmembers
For more info:;

IMAGE CREDIT: Civil rights march on Wash[ington], D.C., Aug. 28, 1963; Warren K. Leffler, photographer; Library of Congress.

April 18, 2013
Rail historian/photographer to speak at Sacramento City College

burman.JPGRailroad historian and photographer Shirley Burman will speak at Sacramento City College this Saturday. Burman, who photographed trains with her late husband Richard Steinheimer, became interested in the subject in 1978 when the State Railroad Museum hired her to document train restoration.

For many years Burman has documented and championed the contributions of women who have worked in the rail industry. That interest resulted in various exhibits, journal articles and a children's book She's Been Working on the Railroad (written with Nancy Smiler Levinson). Her company Burman Enterprises, which sells T-shirts, postcards, mugs and tote bags with the theme "Women and the American Railroad," was profiled by The Sacramento Bee in 1996.

What: Shirley Burman
Where: Sacramento City College Student Center
When: April 20, 1 p.m.
Cost: lecture is free and parking free on Saturdays
For more info: website

PHOTO CREDIT: At Southern Pacific Railroad's Sacramento Shops, Pat Taylor cleans traction motor parts in 1986. Photograph by Shirley Burman

April 17, 2013
Delta Chinatowns celebrated in new photo volume

Locke book.jpgChinese merchants founded Lockeport (later Locke) in 1915 after the Chinese section of Walnut Grove was destroyed in a fire. The town grew with the expansion of agriculture in the region. At its peak, Locke contained many shops, restaurants, gambling halls and a brothel or two. Today 70 to 80 people live in the hamlet.

A new Arcadia photo book celebrates Locke and other Chinatowns along the Sacramento River Delta. It was compiled by Lawrence Tom and Brian Tom, founder and director of the Chinese American Museum of Northern California in Marysville. The Toms have produced two other Chinese history volumes for Arcadia: Marysville's Chinatown and Sacramento's Chinatown.

Locke and the Sacramento Delta Chinatowns
by Lawrence Tom, Brian Tom
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 7,500 titles that celebrate communities all across the country.

April 16, 2013
Capitol Museum revisits the great 1906 quake and fire

Earthquake Group .jpgThe Living History program at the State Capitol Museum will reenact the local response to the great San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. This Sunday docents in period attire will portray officials and regular folk helping with recovery efforts and assisting refugees who fled to Sacramento. A high point will be the dramatic moment when Gov. George receives a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt pledging a $1 million for disaster aid.

In addition to the reenactments, visitors can watch a special 3-D film on the quake that will play all day in the Capitol's basement theater.

What: 1906 Earthquake Living History Day
Where: California State Capitol Museum, 10th St. between L & N Sts., Sacramento
When: April 21. Tours available every 15 minutes from 10:30 to 3 p.m.
Cost: free
For more info: 916-324-0333 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Living history docents reenact the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Courtesy California State Capitol Museum

April 15, 2013
Artisan sales at Sutter's Fort/Indian Museum

SF trader's faire 2008 015.jpgIt's two artisan sales in one! Sutter's Fort and the State Indian Museum are again hosting the Trader's Faire and Indian Arts & Crafts Market this weekend.

Shoppers will discover unique hand-crafted wares at each location. You'll see clothing, housewares, toys, beads and knives, dipped candles, rag rugs and corn husk dolls at the Fort. At the Museum you'll find beaded jewelry, beautiful Native American artwork, woven baskets, gourds, carved soapstone and elk horn and ceremonial drums.

In addition visitors will be entertained with live bands playing traditional instruments, plus cooking, musket and cannon demonstrations and hands-on craft making.

What: Two Artisan Shopping Events -- Trader's Faire and Indian Arts & Crafts Market
Where: Sutter's Fort State Historic Park (2701 L Street) & State Indian Museum (2618 K Street), both in Sacramento
When: April 20 & 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Combo price - $8 for adults; $6 for youth ages 6-17 which includes entrance into both the Fort and Museum. Sutter's Fort stand-alone price: $7 for adults; $5 for youths ages 6-17. Indian Museum stand-alone price: $4 for adults; $3 for youths ages 6-17. Admission for children ages five and under are free to both the Fort and Museum
For more info: 916-445-4422 or 916-324-0971 or website

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Sutter's Fort State Historic Park

April 12, 2013
New book celebrates the natural history of the Sacramento River

A new "comprehensive guide" to the Sacramento River, considers the history, development and environmental challenges facing that Northern California waterway, its tributaries and wetlands beginning in the pre-European period. Author Bob Madgic describes how Native Americans were supported by the river, how it contributed to the state's economy and how conservationists tried to preserve it from ill effects of mining, chemical spills, dam and levee control.

Madgic is a retired school teacher and principal whose previous writings include Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome, A Guide to California's Freshwater Fishes and Pursuing Wild Trout: A Journey in Wilderness Values. He was recently interviewed about his latest book by The Redding Searchlight and The Anderson Valley Post.

The Sacramento: A Transcendent River
by Bob Madgic
River Bend Books
226 pages, 190+ photos
Hardback $40, paperback $29.95

April 11, 2013
Vintage headwear on display during special tour

CSH hat.jpgWhat do Titanic-era hats, flapper cloches, 1960s pillbox hats, men's top hats, fedoras, old firefighter helmets and military headwear have in common? They'll all be on display at the Center for Sacramento History's Inside the Vault Textile Tour featuring 75 examples of vintage head covering dating from the 1860s to the 1970s.

CSH will offer three public tours over four days, each led by expert guides who will explain the historical significance of these rarely-seen artifacts.

On Sunday Dr. Susan Kaiser, Professor of Women and Gender Studies at UC Davis and author of Fashion and Cultural Studies, will give a multimedia presentation, "Fashioning Time and Place."

Space is limited at these tours, so advanced ticket purchase is recommended.

What: Inside the Vault Textile Tours: Hats & Headwear!
Where: Center for Sacramento History, 551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd., Sacramento
When: April 18-21. Public Tours - 11 a.m., 1 & 3 p.m. each day. Presentation by Dr. Kaiser followed by tour at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Cost: $15 for daily tours; $25 for special presentation and tour. Buy tickets.
For more info: 916-808-7072 or website

News release

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy Center for Sacramento History

April 10, 2013
New history of Old World wine pioneers in California

Calif Vines.jpgCalifornia Vines, Wines & Pioneers, a new history of the Golden State's wine industry that began in 1769 when Franciscan friars planted wine grapes in their first mission at San Diego. Author Sherry Monahan profiles more than 50 Old World pioneers who cultivated historic vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and other counties, explaining their contributions and taking the story up through the twin challenges of Prohibition and the Phylloxera pestilence.

Monahan, a professional genealogist and historian, has penned several books on the "Victorian West" and has appeared on The History Channel.

California Vines, Wines & Pioneers
By Sherry Monahan
The History Press
160 pages, 80+ images

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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