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.

A Concluding Descriptive Bibliography

By Gary E. Strong

Wood-engraving cut by the talented John DePol for Rappaccini’s Daughter, [1991]

Gary E. Strong is the founder of the California State Library Foundation and founding editor of the Bulletin. He is now retired and lives near Potlatch, Idaho but is still active in bibliophilic and local history circles. A true bibliophile, he has avidly collected the works of California fine presses. Gary has also compiled an index to the Bulletin and we hope to post it on the Foundation’s webpage in the near future. …

The Story behind the Gold Scales in the J. S. Holliday Rare Materials Reading Room of the California State Library

By Gary F. Kurutz

The beautiful Howard & Davis Gold Scales now rest on an antique table. The table recalls the time when the scales were in the State Library’s facility in the State Capitol Building. Photograph by Brittneydawn Cook.


Gary F. Kurutz is the editor of the California State Library Foundation Bulletin and former curator of special collections at the California State Library.


California Photographer Joins State Library Foundation

Gene Kennedy has taught traditional photography technique for decades, launched a local artisan network, and started working part-time with the Foundation in April 2019. Photograph by Markus Pfitzner.


Mary Beth Barber is the special projects coordinator for the California State Library, and at one time took workshops from Kennedy and other local photographers, shot hundreds of rolls of 35mm black and white film, and spent a great number of hours in The Darkroom as part of Sacramento’s creative photographic community.

Photography is everywhere in today’s digital world, but finding expert craftsmen and women who have a deep knowledge of the world of chemical-based photography are a dying breed. Rarer still are those with deep knowledge of the historic techniques and equipment from the early days of…

By JoAnn Levy

JoAnn Levy is the author of the highly acclaimed They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush, Unsettling the West: Eliza Farnham and Georgiana Bruce Kirby in Frontier California, For California’s Gold: A Novel, and several scholarly articles. At the time of this writing she was a member of the California State Library Foundation’s board of directors.

The Honorable Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

“Visit all the mining regions,” the president advised Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Representatives. “Tell the miners I have not forgotten them nor their interests.”

The meeting in the White House that evening of April 14, 1865, was of necessity brief. The President and Mrs. Lincoln were expected at Ford’s Theatre.

In May, Colfax departed for the West, repeating across…

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…

California State Library Foundation

501(c)(3) that helps provide funding and support to the California State Library. Please visit our website for more information www.cslfdn.org.

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