Freighter, sailboat, Golden Gate. Photo by Martha Bridegam

California Studies Association

an occasional newsletter
February 2017

In this issue: The Summer of Love 50 years later... Inauguration protest art past and present... African Americans on the Overland Trails... LGBTQ history at Rosie the Riveter... California labor history... Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute... Food for thought for strange times.
To the California Studies Association community,

If ever there was time for California to be a "great exception," in this case to the new administration's agenda, now seems to be that time. Thankfully our state leaders have stepped up to the task. In December, Governor Jerry Brown spoke to the American Geophysical Union. "We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers, and we're ready to fight," Brown said, in response to Trump's anti-climate stance. University of California President Janet Napolitano has vowed to protect the state's undocumented students. Of course, it is not just California leading this struggle for civil rights and the environment, and it can't just be our leaders doing the hard work either. Our democracy needs active participation from every one of us!

As one example, since November I've teamed up with other social, physical, and data scientists to found the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. We're responsible for the environment and climate data archiving events that have being happening around the country (including a recent event at UC Berkeley). We've also been monitoring the websites of federal environmental agencies. We've noticed some websites disappearing entirely, as well as more subtle rhetorical shifts, including changes in how the U.S. Energy Information Agency's website for kids talks about climate change. Through these and other projects we hope to hold the new administration accountable to the public interest and to advocate for robust environmental governance.

I encourage you to contribute to your local and interest-based communities, and inspire others to do the same!

In peace, 
Lindsey Dillon
If You Go To San Francisco 50 Years Later
Cover of San Francisco Oracle magazine printed in purple and black ink. The main image, in purple, is a bearded man resembling a spritual guru, with a third eye in his forehead. Edges of the image are full of calligraphy with elaborate serifs. Prominent text advertises the Human Be-In.Fifty years ago was the Summer of Love. This year's Bay Area art and history calendar is full of memorials to that other lifetime and discussions of what it changed permanently. Steering Committee member Peter Richardson is involved in several of the events, including a conference scheduled this summer. His writing on the anniversary includes a survey of the early counterculture news coverage that shaped perceptions and realities in San Francisco. Peter writes, "The long-term effects of the Summer of Love are various and undeniable. One can’t reckon with today’s urban landscape—with its yoga studios, organic markets, recycling centers, and marijuana dispensaries—without considering the Summer of Love and its long tail."
Commemorative events have begun. A Human Be-In anniversary celebration was sold out on January 14 -- (video here). The De Young Museum will host a talk on art in the Summer of Love February 23, and a talk by Peter Richardson on March 2 at the Legion of Honor.
But the major event will be a scholarly conference July 27-29 in San Francisco, with Peter among the organizers. Sponsors are Northwestern University, its Center for Civic Engagement, and the California Historical Society. Announced headliners, in addition to Peter Richardson and Northwestern Prof. Dan A. Lewis, include Fred Turner (Stanford University), David Farber (University of Kansas), Gretchen Lemke-Santangelo (St. Mary’s College), Robyn Spencer (Lehman College), Stephen Eisenman, Abe Peck and Michael Kramer (all three at Northwestern), Elizabeth Ferrell (Arcadia University). and Nicholas Meriwether, the Grateful Dead Archivist at UC-Santa Cruz.
The San Francisco Travel Association, promoting tourism for the occasion, has event listings. These include a California Historical Society exhibit starting in May.
Recently, in California
Silk-screened posters clipped to a line with clothespins along a wall: "If you are brave, stand up for others; if you cannot be brave, be kind," and "Be outraged, resist the imposition of a state of low level dread." In a time of shifting politics, does it help to consider how California fits together?
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leόn ‏wrote on November 10th: "California no era una parte de esta nación cuando comenzó su historia, pero ahora somos claramente los encargados de mantener su futuro." Shannon Mattern wrote in PlacesJournal -- not strictly about California -- "Now more than ever, we need to create and defend vital spaces of information exchange."
And at the newly founded Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, the director, Ananya Roy, wrote November 16, "If we started with the aspiration to organize knowledge to challenge inequality, we recognize that we now must also build power to challenge violence, including state-sponsored violence against targeted bodies and communities."
The silk-screened posters shown above are the work of artist Anthony Ryan, adapting quotes from writers Sarah Kendzior and Masha Gessen, for the January 20-21 demonstrations.
As a reminder of history, Lincoln Cushing found a sample (at right) from the Nixon inauguration protest of 1972.
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At our Carey McWilliams Award presentation in October Betty Reid Soskin, the nation's eldest National Park Service ranger, gave a heartening talk on race and gender integration in the wartime shipyards. Lincoln Cushing and Nina Robinson hosted the award. Lincoln wrote it up for the Kaiser blog, then later transcribed the speech fully.
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Boom California posted a special call for proposals and submissions, saying, "In light of our fast-changing world, Boom’s emphasis has shifted to concentrate on California social issues, and to cultivate underrepresented writers in the California landscape. "
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Ivy Anderson and Devon Angus have rescued a sensational 1913 tell-all from the archives of the San Francisco Bulletin in Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute, republished by Heyday Press with. The editors spoke November 17 at a California Studies Association dinner seminar.
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NPR recently featured the work of Alexandra Stern on California's thousands of sterilizations in the name of eugenics. Her book is Eugenic Nation: Faults and Frontiers of Better Breeding in Modern America (UC Press).
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The California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS) celebrated its 40th anniversary. California Studies Association steering committee member Ildi Carlisle-Cummins has a series of posts and podcasts on the Institute's Cal Ag Roots page. New CIRS projects include a project with the California Coalition for Rural Housing on improving farmworkers' housing in San Mateo County.
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Steering Committee member Alex Tarr published a paper in Urban Geography with John Stehlin: "Think regionally, act locally?: gardening, cycling, and the horizon of urban spatial politics."
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The NPS Tule Lake Unit General Management Plan proposal, which includes the administrative core of the wartime Tule Lake Segregation Center concentration camp, is open for comment until February 28.
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New audio and and video recordings available free online:
- Talks at the Reedley Peace Center: this past fall's "In the Struggle" speakers' series featuring distinguished academics and writers on Central Valley topics.
- ShapingSF public talks, audio only. Recent topics include urban ecology; the history of food co-ops; the 50th anniversary in October 2016 of the Compton's Cafeteria riot in San Francisco; the Hunter's Point riot; housing policy history; new scholarship on California Indian genocide, and much more. Listings for future events are here.
- Architect Glenn Lym's "Dogpatch Ranch: Origins of a Chinese American Family" tells the California immigrant success story of the filmmaker's great-grandfather, who was a crew chief on the original Transcontinental Railroad. The film is free on YouTube.
For more news from the past season see the California Studies Association blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841 – 1869
By Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, University of Oklahoma Press, 2016
Review by Susan D. Anderson
(This review will appear in Montana: the Magazine of Western History, published by the Montana Historical Association.)
For too long, the portrayal of the mid-19th century westward expansion in the U.S. has been of a whites-only movement. For generations, academics as well as popular media – TV shows such as “Wagon Train” and Hollywood movies like “How the West Was Won” – reinforced the inaccuracy of this perception. In the last twenty years, however, a new body of scholarship has emerged, solidly placing African Americans in the West, and revealing the longstanding diverse racial template in the western states and territories.
In her study, Sweet Freedom’s Plains: African Americans on the Overland Trails, 1841 – 1869, CSU-Sacramento Professor Emerita and historian Shirley Ann Wilson Moore has produced a seminal work on the overlooked subject of African Americans who migrated west on overland trails during the years of Manifest Destiny and the Gold Rush.
Dr. Wilson Moore sets her examination against the backdrop of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction in the U.S. Sweet Freedom’s Plains is painstakingly researched, with a wealth of primary source citations. In rigorous, clear prose, the reader is introduced to a myriad of real life figures who trekked the Mormon, California, Oregon and lesser trails.
There were slaves among these African Americans; they accompanied their white owners as cooks, working the trails, and driving oxen. Many relied on the promise of manumission in the West.
Others were free, and sought new life for the same reasons as their white counterparts, chief among them the dream of unlimited economic opportunity, along with a desire to be free of restrictive black codes in their home states.
The book also analyzes the roles of those who facilitated the migration, including mountain guides such as the legendary James P. Beckwourth. In Missouri, African American entrepreneur Hiram Young, one of the wealthiest men in Jackson County, manufactured a popular conveyance for overlanders, known as Hiram Young wagons. Also profiled is Thomas H. Jefferson (who went by the name, Thomas Woodson), the eldest son of Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson, a cartographer who created the “Map of the Emigrant Road from Independence, to St. Francisco California and Accompaniment,” called by one historian, “one of the greatest American maps.”
“Sweet Freedom’s Plains” documents a rich, complex history of westward expansion through narratives related to African American pioneers who risked severe hardships and the unknown to find their fortunes in the West. As such, Dr. Wilson Moore’s compelling work marks a turning point in the scholarship of the overland trails.
Susan D. Anderson is an author, speaker, and public historian, a member of the Steering Committee of the California Studies Association, and a member of the Program Committee of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association 2017 conference. Her book-in-progress, African Americans and the California Dream, will be published by Heyday Books.
From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement
By Fred Glass, University of California Press, 2016
Review by Lincoln Cushing
In this age of TrBook cover: "From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movementump, I’m going to keep this short and simple. Anyone involved in social justice work sooner or later finds her interests intersect with the labor movement. It goes from an abstract truism of “it certainly beats the alternative” to “I need to know what I’m talking about if I’m going to move the needle.”
There’s no better roadmap to this complex animal than Fred’s book.
Fred has been thinking, writing and teaching about the lessons of California labor for quite some time. In 1999 he produced a three-hour, ten-part video series through the CFT Labor in the Schools Committee titled “Golden Lands, Working Hands” – accompanied by a fat three-ring binder with teacher guidelines, segment summaries, sample discussion questions, bibliographies, and timelines.
This new book extends much of that previous research into a format easier to grab off the shelf and read. As the title indicates, it starts further back in time than one would expect in a conventional labor history book – for good reason, since Fred’s rich perspective on the class struggle precedes the rise of labor unions. And the evolution of those labor groups is presented in the complex way they deserve – usually as a response to exploitation, often narrowly focused to serve their members, and sometimes wildly reactionary toward disenfranchised social segments outside their scope. Until that changes for the better -- which, luckily for us, has generally been the trajectory.
The book is full of those contradictions. The ebb and flow of this slice of history, positioned against the larger backdrop of California governors, legislatures, and national politics, makes for dynamic reading. And because it shows responses to adversity as well as good times, it’s inspiring for the work ahead of us now.
Two more excellent reviews can be found here:
- Three-part interview by Jim Miller in the San Diego Free Press, 9/19/2016
- Review for California Federation of Teachers by Bill Morgan, teacher active in the Labor in the Schools Committee
Lincoln is coauthor of Agitate! Educate! Organize! - American Labor Posters, Cornell University Press (2009) and, for a few years while a UC Berkeley librarian, was a proud member of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) and picket walker with Fred.

Fred Glass with a cameraman, in a plaza with trees

Fred Glass on the job at UC Berkeley, 2002 (photo by Lincoln Cushing)

Foregrounding Hidden LGBTQ History at Rosie the Riveter
By Donna Graves

In December 2016, Richmond’s Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park opened an exhibit on LGBTQ histories in the Bay Area during WWII—one of the first exhibits on queer history in a U.S. national park. I’ve been closely involved with this national park since its conceptualization and have been pleased to observe (and participate) in fulfilling the park’s promise to convey the remarkable social changes on the home front and later transformations catalyzed by the war years.
As historian John D’Emilio wrote in 1983, “World War II was something of a nationwide coming-out experience. It properly marks the beginning of the nation’s, and San Francisco's, modern gay history.” My own conviction that LGBTQ history was an important topic for Rosie the Riveter to address was reinforced as I began work on the Citywide Historic Context Statement for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer History in San Francisco (co-authored with Shayne Watson).
Lead Ranger Elizabeth Tucker and others at Rosie the Riveter came to share my perspective and in 2014 the park announced our exhibit plans and issued a call for LGBTQ stories that drew national attention, including an article in Newsweek. Up to that point, the park’s collections did not include any materials about LGBTQ history.
Until recently, LGBTQ experiences were not well documented and collected; people faced very real threats if they were out — loss of friends, family, housing or employment, and even violence. So photos and other records of people’s lives from the WWII era are relatively scarce. This exhibit could not have been developed without the invaluable archives of the GLBT Historical Society and previous scholarship, especially Nan Alamilla Boyd’s Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965 (UC Press, 2005).
The LGBTQ Home Front Histories exhibit will be on view in Richmond for six months and then travel. This comes at a time of extraordinary interest in queer history and the places where it can be told. At the exhibit’s opening, we were able to share the completed LGBTQ National Theme Study, recently completed by the National Park Service—a remarkable document that is part of NPS’s goal of “telling all Americans’ stories.”
Donna Graves is a public historian based in Berkeley who develops interdisciplinary public history projects that emphasize social equity and sense of place.
Reading for uncertain times
Our June "summer reading" list contained titles that may be of new interest now as guides to California's fracture lines and solidarities. Following are some other titles, new and old. Many, though not all, are responses to a query sent to Steering Committee members for reading recommendations to help a student bewildered by the news and political moods of late 2016.
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We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation, Jeff Chang, 2016, Picador. "Required reading on race, political organizing in the age of Trump, from one of California's leading thinkers on race, culture and politics," per Rachel Brahinsky.
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Lincoln writes in the California Studies Association blog: "Two wonderful books were just published that each shed welcome light on the impact of the SF Bay Area – The Explosion of Deferred Dreams : Musical Renaissance and Social Revolution in San Francisco, 1965-1975 by Mat Callahan (PM Press), and Lavender and Red : Liberation and Solidarity in the Gay and Lesbian Left by Emily Hobson (UC Press). I happened to work with both authors, and am honored to have provided the cover and inside poster art from my archive."
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Tomás Summers Sandoval recommends:
- Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol (UC Press), by Kelly Lyle Hernandez.
- Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton U. Press), by Mae M. Ngai.
- A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Hachette), by Ronald Takaki.
- I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle (UC Press), by Charles M. Payne.
- This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color (SUNY Press), Gloria Anzaldua and Cherrie Moraga, eds
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Javier Arbona recommends:
- Rightlessness: Testimony and Redress in U.S. Prison Camps Since World War II (UNC Press), by A. Naomi Paik.
- Ten Years that Shook the City: San Francisco 1968-1978 (City Lights) edited by Chris Carlsson.
- Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California, by Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi.
- West of Eden: Communes and Utopia in Northern California, ed. Iain Boal et al., PM Press, 2012.
- The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America, by Andrés Reséndez
- An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846–1873, by Benjamin Madley
(The October talk at FoundSF, available in the audio archive, interviewed authors of additional recent works on Indian slavery and genocide: Lisbeth Haas, author of Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California, and Elias Castillo, author of A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish Missions, speaking with Valentin Lopez, chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribe, in a discussion moderated by Rose Aguilar of KALW.)
- Carey McWilliams, in general -- Factories in the Field, for example.
- "The Californian Ideology," by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron.
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Independent scholar Tim Stroshane has a new book out from the University of Nevada Press with an exciting title: Drought, Water Law, and the Origins of California’s Central Valley Project. It comes with a rave-review blurb from Chris Carlsson. Descriptions so far imply it could help guide journalists, activists and historians through the dripping cave of mysteries that lies between slightly dated general-reader works like Cadillac Desert and newer managerial documents.
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