SF Throwbacks

In the early 1900s, Tien Fuh Wu and Donaldina Cameron teamed up to save young Asian girls in the city

Tien Fuh Wu (standing in the back, on the left) and Donaldina Cameron (seated, center), with a group of women who may have been Mission Home staffers. Photo by Louis B. Stellman, California State Library.

By Julia Flynn Siler

This article is part of SF Throwbacks, a feature series that tells historic stories of San Francisco to teach us all more about our city’s past.

Four years into my research for my recent nonfiction book, The White Devil’s Daughters, I came across a photograph that upended my understanding of the role Asian women played in the fight against slavery. Snapped in the early 20th century, it was a formal portrait of six women. Two were white; the other four were Chinese. The photograph gives equal visual prominence to both the Chinese and the white women.

Discoveries in the California State Library’s Archives

By Gary F. Kurutz

Mr. Kurutz is the Foundation’s current Bulletin editor, former executive director, and former curator of special collections for the California State Library

For the last several years, the State Library has participated with the African American community in celebrating Juneteenth or Freedom Day. A highlight of this annual celebration has been an exhibition of treasures from the Library’s collection documenting the antislavery movement, the struggle for freedom, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and the contributions of African Americans in California. Each time, the exhibition and celebration has been held in the stately Memorial Vestibule of…

Julia Siler will be discussing this article in the March installment of CSLF's Dear California virtual event series. For more information and to register for this event please visit our website: cslfdn.org.

The Farm Security Administration’s Reappropriation of Japanese American Farms

By Michelle Trujillo

Five separate Florin agricultural properties ranging from 20 to 80 acres of grapes and strawberries and their extant crops, buildings, and farm machinery remained to be transferred by May 16, 1942.

Michelle Trujillo is a historian, musician, and teacher who studies how marginalized groups counter consequences of discrimination through cultural endurance, solidarity, and activism. Michelle will earn her Master of Arts degree in public history from California State University, Sacramento in spring 2020.

I would like to thank the California State Library Foundation for selecting me as one of the first Mead B. Kibbey California State Library Fellowship recipients. The award provided the opportunity for me to prioritize research and access records that I would have otherwise “someday” carved out the time to investigate. In…

A Fabulous Book Written in Tribute to Sutro Librarian Richard H. Dillon (1924–2016), by His Son Brian Dillon

By Gary F. Kurutz.

Mt. Tamalpais from Bulkley Avenue, Sausalito, by Tom Killion, 2008. The image is featured on the front dust jacket for Brian Dillon’s important book about his father, Richard Dillon.

Gary Kurutz is the editor of the Bulletin, retired executive director of the California State Library Foundation, and retired curator of special collections for the California State Library.

The Bulletin rarely features a new book published by another organization but, I thought our readers should be aware of Aloha, Amigos! The Richard H. Dillon Memorial Volume created and edited by his son Dr. Brian Dervin Dillon.(1) From 1950 to 1979, Dillon, hereafter “RHD,” managed the California State Library’s only branch, the Sutro Library in San Francisco. During his long tenure as Sutro Librarian, he…

An Extraordinary Collection of Original Stereographs Donated by Mead B. and Nancy T. Kibbey

By Gary F. Kurutz

Shown here is an antique stereoscope used to view stereographs in 3D. It provides a lens for each eye. By placing the mounted image between the two brackets on the left side and holding the right side of the duel-glass lens up to their forehead, a person, after making adjustments, would see the photograph in 3D. The Library’s California History Section has stereoscopes for patron use.

Gary Kurutz is the editor of the Bulletin, former executive director of the Foundation, and retired curator of special collections for the California State Library.

Through the generosity of the late Mead B. and his wife Nancy T. Kibbey of Sacramento, the Foundation has received an incredible gift of 684 original stereographs of California and Nevada dating from the 1860s and 1870s. Stereographs (stereos) are double-image photographs mounted on cards designed to be placed in a viewer so the pictures can be seen three-dimensionally (3D).(1) Mead Kibbey (1922–2018) was a prodigious and skilled collector…

A Game-Changer in the National Votes-for-Women Campaign

By Jennifer Robin Terry, Ph.D.

This contest-winning design by Bertha Boyd was mass produced on campaign materials like posters, flyers, and playing cards. It appears here as the cover art for the College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California’s 1911 report.

Dr. Jennifer Robin Terry is a historian of 19th and 20th century social and cultural United States history with particular focus on women, children, and popular culture. She is an award-winning author from the Sacramento region who holds degrees in history from the University of California, Berkeley, and Sacramento State University. For more information, please visit

In August of 1920, American women won the right to vote. Winning the vote was a significant milestone, not only for women, but also for the nation because the federal government recognized roughly half of its…

Community Resistance to Redevelopment in Sacramento’s Japantown

By Moriah Ulinskas

Street scene of 413 L Street in Japan Town, north side of the street. 1930’s. Eugene Hepting Collection, courtesy Center for Sacramento History.

Moriah Ulinskas is an independent archivist and Ph.D candidate in Public History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received one of the first Mead B. Kibbey California State Library Foundation Fellowships. This scholar is the former director of the Preservation Program at the Bay Area Video Coalition, has been a member of the Community Archiving Workshop (CAW) since 2012, and manages CAW’s IMLS funded “Training of Trainers” project and NEH funded “Audiovisual Collections Care in Tribal Archives” project. Moriah has worked as a consultant for the Smithsonian Institution, SFMOMA, San Francisco Arts Commission, and…

Dealing with the 1918 Influenza Scourge

By Gary F. Kurutz

A rare 1918 broadside.

Gary Kurutz is the editor of the Bulletin, former executive director of the Foundation, and retired curator of special collections for the California State Library.

With the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide media coverage has been nonstop. Television, the Internet, social networking, newspapers, and other sources seemingly have been issuing updates on the hour. Naturally, those with an interest in history cannot help but reflect on past health crises. A search of the Internet will provide links and citations to many books and articles. Perhaps the best-known scourge to attack California was the…

Food Rationing in World War I

By Laura Kellen

Laura Kellen is a reference librarian in the State Library’s Information Services Section. In addition, she generously trains guide-dogs for the visually impaired. As a hobby, she enjoys hunting for historical items at yard sales and swap meets.

World War I ended on November 11, 1918, when Germany signed the armistice agreement, signaling the end of the war. It ended the largest and bloodiest conflict in American history; 1.2 million troops of the American Expeditionary Force had participated. One of the greatest challenges of the war was feeding such a large military force, yet no…

California State Library Foundation

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