ANNOUNCEMENT: The Latest from the California Historical Society

Denise Spooner's picture

From the Blog

Highlights from the California Historical Society Manuscript Collection: Geil J. Norris Family History

The California Historical Society has a small but significant collection of pre-1900 Spanish-language manuscripts.  Comprising letters, diaries, account books, land grants, and other Spanish and bilingual materials, these collections document the early Latinx presence in California. Read more below about the papers of  Geil J. Norris of Salinas, California, who was a descendent of the Pico, Castro, and Sanchez families, all prominent Mexican Americans who settled in what is now known as California. Read more here.

CHS Public Programs

San Francisco History Days 2020 kicks-off tonight!


San Francisco History Days will launched today, bringing together independent historians, local history organizations, and the general public for a night of informative fun. Join us throughout the weekend for an incredible lineup of events

CHS' co-presentation of "Revealing San Francisco's Hidden 19th-Century Black History: A Tour of California Historical Society Artifacts,"alongside the Institute for Historical Study and the California African American Museum, has SOLD OUT! A recording of the session will be made available in the coming weeks. 

Reel in the Closet

In honor of LGBT History Month, we are teaming up with the GLBT Historical Society and The Clowder Group to tell the story of queer history and the struggle to preserve it with the award-winning documentary, Reel In The Closet

There will be four screenings of this film. Each takes place on a Thursday in October from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Following the screenings, there will be live Q&As with the filmmaker and LGBT advocates & historians. Learn more.

New excerpts from our Tell Your Story project

Shannon, San Francisco

“I came down with COVID-19 in the beginning of March while at a conference in New York. I became very ill and was scared of what was happening. I didn’t yet know a lot about the virus and how it was going to affect me and the rest of the world. I was living alone at the time and was fortunate to have friends and colleagues who were supportive. They called to check on me, and some brought groceries. I also had several colleagues from the conference who became sick, and we all stayed in some form of communication. It was scary and comforting at the same time."

“My grandfather recently died and I was forced to attend his burial and then his funeral by video conference. It was strange at first because I felt isolated and apart from my family. But when I spoke, I started to feel more emotional and connected to everyone."

“Despite the fear and uncertainty, I’ve enjoyed the slowing down of life and the simplicity of days since the quarantine began. In a strange way it feels like a gift to have all this time to reflect and feel what it means to be alive and a being on this planet."

Photo caption: 
Shanon & Scott, San Francisco, April 2020

We recently added a new batch of personal stories to our online exhibition! Read more here. Contribute to the Tell Your Story project here

Elsewhere in California

In California, new effort launched to teach shameful history of anti-Chinese bigotry

When he went to the annual Sacramento Archives Crawl in October, Diego Leibman didn’t expect to discover the dark heart of local history. But in the serene halls of the California State Archives — surrounded by the dusty smell of paper, soft conversation, short-handled hoes and other artifacts out of time — Leibman was introduced to his hometown’s anti-Chinese past. Read more

This week in 1962, César Chávez founds the National Farm Workers Association

This week in 1962, César Chávez, Mexican-American labor leader and central figure in civil rights in California, founded the National Farm Workers Association. It later became the United Farm Workers. Read more.

Protests in 1964


In September 1964, the Free Speech Movement began at U.C. Berkeley. The Free Speech Movement (FSM) was a college campus phenomenon inspired first by the struggle for civil rights and later fueled by opposition to the Vietnam War. The protest was led by several students, who also demanded their right to free speech and academic freedom. The FSM sparked an unprecedented wave of student activism and involvement. Read more