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COLLECTIONS as CONNECTORS Holdings from Off-Center

by Steven Black, Bancroft Acquisitions

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…
–William Butler Yeats, from “The Second Coming”

As they do in a teeming metropolis, connections occur naturally among collections in libraries and other repositories. These linkages may involve ideas and people, whether by description (cataloging and metadata), archival arrangement, researcher access and review, or, in the case of a new exhibit at The Bancroft Library, by time-shifted serendipity.

“The Summer of Love, from the Collections of The Bancroft Library” fortuitously brings together two representative figures who, in 1967, circled each other warily, but never met.

Joan Didion

Joan Didion in Golden Gate Park’s Panhandle, near Oak and Ashbury, 1967, photographed by Ted Streshinsky, BANC PIC 2004.132–NEG, M674-2, frame 9A

Joan Didion’s reportage in “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” is highlighted in a timely Bancroft exhibition along with images of the hippie scene in San Francisco taken by photographer Ted Streshinsky.

One thread running through her piece (in a reproduction of her typescript essay as submitted for later book publication) is a search for the Communication Company printer and publisher Chester Anderson.

Chester Anderson

Photo of Chester Anderson from the back cover of The Butterfly Kid. New York : Pyramid Books, 1967., p PS3551.N358 B8 1967

Funded by proceeds from his cult-hit novel The Butterfly Kid (1967), Anderson arrived in the Haight district of San Francisco just as the seeds for the coming “Summer of Love” were sown.  In January 1967 he purchased a state-of-the-art mimeograph machine from Gestetner “to provide quick & inexpensive printing service for the hip community.”

Among the works issued by this newest member of the Underground Press Syndicate were innumerable Diggers flyers and handbills, a chapbook by Richard Brautigan (All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace), revolutionary manifestos, notices for performances, the Invisible Circus, other happenings, and street level public service announcements.

Gentleness: a play in infinite acts ., 1967, The Communication Company, publisher Chester Anderson papers, BANC MSS 92/839 c, box 1, folder 3

In her quest, Didion describes meeting Com/Co’s co-founder, who (she writes) “says his name is Claude Hayward, but never mind that because I think of him just as The Connection.”

As she is on assignment for a mainstream publication, Didion is considered (in a Diggers phrase-du-jour) to be “a media poisoner.” The Connection urges her to dump the photographer she is with “and get out on the Street” leaving her cash (“You won’t need money”) behind.

Responding to her request to speak directly with Chester Anderson, The Connection says:  “If we decide to get in touch with you at all, we’ll get in touch with you real quick.” Although she crosses paths with The Connection again that spring in the Panhandle during an agitprop intervention by the San Francisco Mime Troupe, his passive refusal to hook her up rebuts his street-inflected nickname.

Joan Didion was unable to find the oracular man who could ostensibly help her understand “the scene,” or genius loci. Despite this missed connection with Chester Anderson, by detailing her forays into the Haight-Ashbury and other hippie enclaves around San Francisco, Didion captured in prose a time in violent flux. “Slouching” became the title essay of her celebrated first book of non-fiction, securing her reputation as a caustic and insightful social seismograph.

janis didion excerpt

Joan Didion papers, BANC MSS 81/140 c, carton 1

Today their works are co-located in Bancroft’s Summer of Love retrospective: two radically different writers can be seen in a long-delayed meeting that eluded them in real life.

*                          *                          *

Provenance notes:

Joan Didion (1934-) Joan Didion’s manuscript (BANC MSS 81/140 c carton 1) came to The Bancroft Library as a gift of the author.

Chester Valentine John Anderson (1932-1991) Chester Anderson’s papers (BANC MSS 92/839 c) came to The Bancroft Library via friend and fellow underground journalist Paul Williams.

Paul Williams (1948-2013) founded Crawdaddy, the first zine of rock and roll journalism (predating Rolling Stone), authored many works of hippie (Apple Bay: or, Life on the planet) and new age journalism (Das Energi), books on Bob Dylan and Philip K. Dick (whose literary executor he was, for close to 20 years). Through his imprint Entwhistle Books, he published two books by Chester Anderson:  Fox & hare : the story of a Friday night (f PS3551.N358 F6 1980 Bancroft) and Puppies (p PS3572.A395 P9 1979 Bancroft) under Anderson’s pseudonym John Valentine.

Ted Streshinsky (1923–2003) Ted Streshinsky’s photo archive (BANC PIC 2004.132) was a gift of his wife Shirley.

Public Presentation: The Kitchen Sisters’ Nikki Silva in Conversation with Shanna Farrell

Join us on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 for a special evening with Nikki Silva of the award-winning Kitchen Sisters. She will talking about her work with oral history, radio, and their new project, The Keepers. OHC’s Shanna Farrell will be moderating the conversation. This event, free and open to the public, will be serve as our Advanced Oral History Summer Institute’s keynote presentation.

Tuesday, August 8

6 – 7:30pm

MLK Jr Student Union, Tilden Room

5th Floor

Nikki Silva is one half of “The Kitchen Sisters” independent radio, podcast and multimedia production team. With her artistic partner Davia Nelson she has produced hundreds of stories on NPR and public media including the duPont-Columbia and James Beard Award winning series Hidden Kitchens, the Peabody Award winning Lost & Found Sound and The Sonic Memorial Project, The Hidden World of Girls and many others. Their podcast The Kitchen Sisters Present received the 2017 Webby Award for Best Documentary Podcast. The Kitchen Sisters national radio collaborations have brought together independent producers, NPR stations, artists, writers, historians, and public radio listeners throughout the country to create intimate radio documentaries that chronicle untold stories of cultures and traditions around the world. Their upcoming series, The Keepers, explores the world of archivists,  librarians, curators, collectors and the collections they keep. The Kitchen Sisters are the authors of Hidden Kitchens: Stories Recipes and More, a New York Times Notable Book of the year. Silva is also a museum curator and exhibit consultant. She lives with her family on a commune near Santa Cruz.

On View Now: The Summer of Love, from the Collections of The Bancroft Library

Marking the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, an exhibit in the corridor between Doe Library and The Bancroft Library features Bancroft’s rare and unique collections documenting the world-famous Bay Area counterculture of 1967.

Black and white photo of a crowd in Golden Gate Park watching a rock band on stage, with a "Love" banner among crowd.

[Unidentified band on stage, Summer Solstice, Golden Gate Park, June 21, 1967] Ted Streshinsky, photographer (BANC PIC 2004.132 M686-5, frame 34. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions)

Presented are images from the Bay Area alternative press, psychedelic rock posters and mailers, documentary photographs of the Haight-Ashbury scene and major rock concerts, material from the papers of poet Michael McClure, and text from Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” drawn from her papers and paired, for the first time since publication in the Saturday Evening Post, with photographs taken to accompany her essay.

A young hippie woman with feathers that look like antlers, in day glow face paint, Avalon Ballroom, 1967] Ted Streshinsky, photographer.

[A young hippie woman with feathers that look like antlers, in day glow face paint, Avalon Ballroom, 1967]  Ted Streshinsky, photographer. (BANC PIC 2004.132–LAN, box 14, file 258. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions)

Photographs by Ted Streshinsky, Michelle Vignes, Larry Keenan, and Stephen Shames are featured, as well as psychedelic art by Wilfried Sätty, Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Stanley “Mouse” Miller, Lee Conklin, Bonnie MacLean, David Singer, and others. Publications and leaflets of the Underground Press Syndicate are also highlighted, with examples such as the Berkeley Barb, the Oracle, and the Communication Company as well as fliers from the Sexual Freedom League.

Psychedelic poster with spiral in blue and red.

Turn on Your Mind: Relax and Float Down Stream. Poster art by Wilfried Sätty. (Henri Lenoir pictorial collection, BANC PIC 2004.158–D, folder 5. Further reproduction prohibited: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/rights-and-permissions )

This exhibit, prepared by Chris McDonald and James Eason of the Bancroft Library Pictorial Unit will be on view through Fall 2017.

 

1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition: Stories through Photographs

A guest posting by Seamus Howard, Student Archival Processing Assistant in the Pictorial Unit, Bancroft Library

What makes a photograph good?

As a student working in the Bancroft Pictorial Unit, I’ve been going through hundreds and hundreds of photographs daily. I’ve seen my share of good and bad photos.

One might stand out as “good” due to the lighting, crisp focus, correct staging, and exposure — good cropping perhaps, or just clarity of subject. Ultimately, the answer is a combination of factors, and can be completely subjective.

For me, the most important factor is moment.

The 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition was full of special moments captured in photographs which continue to shed light on the character and tone of the United States during the early 20th century.

One special moment was former President William Howard Taft visiting the P.P.I.E.

Working to re-house and inventory about 6,700 photographic prints in large, brittle ledger books, I’ve encountered numerous shots of this visit, thoroughly recorded by the Cardinell-Vincent Company, the exposition’s official photographers.

President Taft was an early supporter of the exposition, declaring in early 1911 that San Francisco would be the official home of the fair. He attended the groundbreaking eight months later and returned to San Francisco in 1915 to see the fair in all its glory.

 

Ex-President Taft and other men on the speakers' platform, PPIE

Figure 1: President Taft addressing a crowd on “Taft Day”, September 2, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

Taft’s visit to the fair was seemingly a large event. He was accompanied wherever he went, soldiers or guards escorting him from building to building. Taft continued to be a very important person at this time. He had lost his reelection to Wilson in 1912, and returned to Yale as a professor of law and government.

 

Ex-President Taft giving speech at P.P.I.E.

Figure 2: President Taft giving speech at P.P.I.E. on “Taft Day”, September 2, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

Taft visited many of the fair’s popular buildings and exhibits, including the Japanese Pavilion, Swedish Building, Norway Building, and the art gallery and courtyard of the French Pavilion. He met foreign representatives, fair officials, and experienced much of what the fair had to offer.

 

President Taft and entourage leaving a building at the PPIE

Figure 3: President Taft leaving building, September 2 or 3?, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

President Taft viewing busts in Swedish Building of the Panama Pacific International Exposition

Figure 4: President Taft viewing busts in Swedish Building, September 3?, 1915. Photograph, approximately 4.75 inches x 6.75 inches. (Reference snapshot from the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013: v.4, pt.2, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

And President Taft experienced the unique blend of cultures and stories the fair provided. Here, in my favorite photograph of Taft’s time at the fair, he walks through a hall lined with busts in the Swedish building, flanked by guards. Taft seems enveloped by the art and is perfectly framed between his escorts and the lines of busts, drawing your eye towards Taft at the center. This moment makes a great photograph.

The Bancroft Pictorial team continues to house and describe the collection, and will update this blog with more photographs and details as we progress. Stay tuned!

 

New Release: Robert Irwin with Jim Duggan on the Getty Central Garden

We are thrilled to release our latest interview in partnership with the Getty Trust: the artist Robert Irwin on his Central Garden for the Getty Museum. Joining Irwin for the second interview session was Jim Duggan, the master gardener who facilitated Irwin’s vision for a garden that has become a living, breathing, evolving piece of sculpture — not to mention one of the most visited and popular pieces of art at the museum.

Robert Irwin was born in Long Beach, California, in 1928. As a young man, he worked as a lifeguard and professional swing dancer while creating his early paintings. In the 1950s, he became a pioneer of the “Light and Space” movement popular with a handful of now very influential southern California artists. Later in the 1960s and 1970s he moved away from painting and developed what he called “conditional art,” or art that was created in direct response to various physical, experiential, and situation conditions. In the early 1990s, he was brought in by the Getty Trust to design the new Getty Museum’s garden. Although the museum’s architect, Richard Meier, was not a fan of Irwin’s imaginative creation, the Getty Central Garden has proved to be extremely popular with visitors and is now regarded as a masterpiece of landscape art.

All In Time

by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.

As another school year comes to a close, and the class of 2017 has walked through Sproul Plaza for the last time, now feels like the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the fury of finals and reflect. With the stresses of contemporary life – constant messages and emails to reply to, the morning commute, trying to precariously balance family and friends with work and play – it can be easy to get lost in a vortex of stress and responsibilities. But at times like these, when pressure becomes so prevalent, it is worth pausing to admire what surrounds us. Pardon the cliché, but it really is worth stopping to smell the flowers. So many of us pass through Sather Gate every day in a rush to get to class, but how often does one stop to truly appreciate the Gate, or the Campanile, or even just the lush greenery of the campus?

As a senior who has just graduated and is about to enter a new (and stressful!) phase of life, I thought it would be worth doing exactly that. In the quiet before the storm I decided that as one of my final blogs for the Bancroft, it might be nice to make a tribute to the campus, both for my sanity, and out of respect for the school that has been my home for the last four years. So in late spring, as the pressure mounted, I made my own effort to step back, further than most. Instead of admiring the campus merely in the here and now, I wanted to explore what had changed, and by the same token, what had stayed the same. The Bancroft houses the University Archives in which I found bits and pieces of what I was looking for. Photographs of the campus from as early as the 19th century. There were so many fantastic pictures in the collection – from a horse and carriage trotting along with South Hall, and her long forgotten sister North Hall, clearly visible in the background, to photos of a typewriter shop on Telegraph Avenue with old time 1950s cars parked out front. But I decided as a member of the class of 2017 that I would focus on the view of campus from a century ago, taken while the world was at war in 1917. After settling on this, I went out and retook some of the pictures we have from 1917 to find out exactly what had withered away and what had stayed in the hundred years since they were first taken.

I hope that in looking at these comparison shots, more people might be able to pause and collect their thoughts, even for just a few minutes, while reflecting on the beauty of the campus that we often take for granted. When we’re so caught up in the moment, taking notice of something like Sather Gate, which has stood in place for more than 100 years, might be our cue to relax. There are buildings and trees that have been here for generations. Manmade structures and nature alike have transcended time, and the Sather Gate I walk under today is the same one two little girls posed next to in 1917. Our campus is beautiful, and it is worth remembering that these buildings will outlast our stresses, just as they have for all the Berkeley alum and employees that have come before us.

Sather Gate

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

Sather Gate

UARC PIC 03 3.100

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

Sather Gate

UARC PIC 03 3.125

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

UC, Berkeley Campus

UARC PIC 03 3.101

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

UCB Campus

UARC PIC 03 3.103

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

UCB Campus

UARC PIC 03 3.127

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

UCB Campus

UARC PIC 03 3.134

Photo by Sonia Kahn, 2017

UCB Campus

UARC PIC 03. 3.135

If you are interested in more photos of the Berkeley campus over the past two centuries please visit the Reading Room at the Bancroft Library.

Images are from the University of California, Berkeley campus views collection: http://oskicat.berkeley.edu/record=b16284958~S1

Faces in the Crowd

In the Bancroft Library Pictorial Unit, work continues on 115 panoramic Cirkut camera negatives being conserved and scanned as part of our NEH-funded work on the Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition Photograph Collection.

Panoramic photo of crowd inside Fillmore Street Gate and the Panama Pacific Exposition, Nov. 2, 1915.

Fillmore Street Gate, San Francisco Day, Nov. 2, 1915. Scanned from a nitrate film negative, approximately 8 x 45 inches. (Edward A. Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition photograph collection, BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG, The Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley.)

 

The digital images produced give the chance to peer into these panoramic scenes and pick out small details – and often our gaze is returned by characters in the crowd, caught some 102 years ago.

Bald man in crowd tipping his hat.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG. A tip of the hat.

 

The panorama (pictured above) at the Fillmore Street Gate on San Francisco Day, November 2, 1915, is among the best crowd shots, and all the images in this posting are details from it. At center the throng recedes eastward into the distance, down the thoroughfare of popular amusements known as The Zone. At left the crowds fill the Avenue of Progress which leads toward the bay, past the Machinery Palace. At right are the entrance gates, with the ridge of the Pacific Heights neighborhood beyond.

Detail of crowd under the San Francisco Day banner at the entrance to The Zone.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

 

 

In the crowd there are so many marvelous faces (not to mention terrific hats!) that it is hard to select favorites.

Asian family in crowd.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

For a “world’s fair” there’s not a lot of diversity in this crowd. But this stylin’ family are holding their own.

###

Grinning man with a box camera.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

This fellow’s bound to have a good time, and he’s ready to make memories with his handy portable box camera at the ready.

###

Young boy in crowd selling balloons.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

This kid seems to have just made a balloon sale, but it’s serious work.

###

Stern older woman in had with light veil.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

When mixing with hoi polloi, veils and a no-nonsense attitude are necessities for some. Even at a fair.

ESPECIALLY at a fair.

###

Smiling woman in a large hat with long feather decorations on it.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

This lady is smiling even though she’s enjoying neither an ice cream nor a cigar. Perhaps she knows her hat is at the cutting edge.

It will be over 40 years before Sputnik challenges her design-forward look.

###

Three odd looking men in crowd.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

Three distinct kinds of trouble.
Make that four.

###

Women in hats in crowd.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

With all the fine hats, how can we choose a winner? – But wait! – Never mind.

The wee chap on the right steals the show!

###

Woman in large hat with children, and a small girl with purse behind her.

Detail of BANC PIC 2015.013:01134P—NNEG

And this favorite auntie’s outstanding chapeau falls victim to another well-accessorized scene-stealer.

###

Work on the Rogers Panama Pacific International Exposition collection will continue through June of 2018, at which time digital images from over 2,000 negatives will be put online. In the meantime, we will share favorites, along with project updates, on this Bancroft Pictorial Unit blog. Check back again!

James Eason, Archivist for Pictorial Collections, Bancroft Library

New Release: Edward Howden, California Civil Rights Advocate

Today we release a very special oral history interview: Edward Howden, a pioneering advocate for civil rights and social justice in community-based organizations and early governmental civil rights institutions. Howden, who attended UC Berkeley from 1936 to 1940, was 98 years when we completed his interview earlier this year. To introduce this oral history, we’ve reprinted the interview’s “Foreword” by San Francisco State University Professor Emeritus of History Bob Cherny:

“Today San Francisco and, perhaps with some exceptions, California have reputations for diversity and for inclusion without regard to ethnicity, religion, or gender. California was the first state to elect women to both of its U.S. Senate seats. Currently, the speaker of the state Assembly and the president pro tempore of the Senate are both Latinos. The Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court is a Filipina American. The last six mayors of San Francisco have included a woman, an African American (in a city where African Americans make up less than eight percent of the population), and a Chinese American. Many similar examples could be cited.

One might be tempted to conclude that this level of political inclusion has arisen naturally from a diverse population, but there are other parts of the country where diversity has not automatically brought inclusion. A study by sociologists in 1970 suggested that San Francisco had a “culture of civility” based on tolerance for what they called, in the sociological jargon of that time, “deviants.” However, their explanation for this tolerance is unconvincing, focusing on an alleged “Latin heritage,” a “libertarian and politically sophisticated” working class, and a high proportion of unmarried adults.

Such an analysis leaves out a great deal, both in understanding the development of widespread tolerance of difference, and such tolerance does not automatically lead to inclusion into the social, economic, or political mainstream. There is a difference between tolerating difference and celebrating diversity, and neither itself produces inclusion. Inclusion of diverse groups and individuals into the mainstream has resulted from long-term struggles against both outright racism and more subtle forms of discrimination. In recent decades, historical scholarship has often focused on the ways that various groups have organized themselves to seek equality and inclusion.

The history of efforts to create a more inclusive society involves more than the efforts of excluded groups to organize themselves and demand inclusion. Equally important have been the historical battles that reformers—not themselves members of a discriminated against group— have waged against outright racism and more subtle forms of discrimination and in favor of inclusion. This oral history provides essential documentation to this aspect of the history of California. Throughout his professional lifetime, Ed Howden promoted such goals by campaigning for what he prefers to call human rights: first, in advocating that San Franciscans become more inclusive, then in using the authority of the State of California to bring greater inclusion in employment, and finally as a mediator, seeking to resolve community problems over rights.

I first met Ed at Alma Via, an assisted-living facility where my mother was a resident. Ed often sat at her table during breakfast, and we got to know each other over that breakfast table. I had known a bit about Ed’s work through my research and writing about California history and politics in the mid- to late 20th century. Meeting him in person over breakfast jogged my memory about some parts of his history and reading this oral history has told me a great deal more.

As you will discover from this account, Ed was involved throughout his long career in the struggle for what he defines as human rights. In the pages that follow, he relates how some of his experiences as a student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1930s and in the army during World War II led him in 1946 to accept the position of director of the Council for Civic Unity (CCU). Prominent members of San Francisco’s Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, and African American communities had established the CCU, and, as director, Ed worked to develop an awareness of discrimination and to advocate solutions. He utilized public meetings at the Commonwealth Club, radio and later television programs, the city’s four daily newspapers, presentations to the Board of Supervisors, and individual contact with the city’s movers and shakers. He was centrally involved behind the scenes in 1957 in the resolution of the imbroglio over the attempt by Willie Mays, a star player on the recently arrived San Francisco Giants, to buy a house in an all-white neighborhood. Ed also took the lead in writing and publishing A Civil Rights Inventory of San Francisco (1958) that detailed discriminatory employment and housing practices.

In 1959, Ed moved from what would today be called an advocacy organization, the CCU, to a governmental position. The year before, in 1958, Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, who had been the California Attorney General and before that the San Francisco District Attorney, was elected governor. As governor, Brown worked with the Democratic leadership in the legislature to create the state Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC). Brown appointed Ed as the first director of that agency, and Ed remained in that position for more than seven years, until Ronald Reagan became governor. After leaving the FEPC, in early 1967, he joined the Community Relations Service, a federal agency established within the Department of Justice under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He began western regional director and then became a Senior Conciliation Specialist. He retired in 1986. In that agency, he sought to mediate community problems involving human rights. Much of his work in that agency is covered in a separate oral history, done in 1999, but in this oral history Ed reflects on his central involvement in bringing a peaceful resolution to the 1973 stand-off at Wounded Knee between the FBI and American Indian Movement activists.

Ed’s story is that of one who has worked tirelessly, sometimes prominently but often behind the scenes, to eliminate practices that discriminated on the basis of race and thereby to promote inclusion. At the center of his work stands his belief that respect for human rights is the basis for decent relations among all the groups that make up a diverse society.”

Exhibit: New Favorites: Collecting in the Bancroft Tradition

Bancroft Library Gallery
April 21 – September 1, 2017

Books in the new Bancroft Library exhibit

For the first time in many years The Bancroft Library presents an exhibition of recent additions to its major collections. The exhibition also includes recently rediscovered masterpieces carefully collected in years past. Gold Rush-era memoirs and advertisements, early editions of William Langland and Jane Austen, “branded” books from 18th c. Mexico, and David Johnson’s photographs of the African American community in San Francisco after World War II are but a few of the items featured.

Photographs by David Johnson in the new Bancroft Library exhibit

The exhibition showcases the Bancroft curators and their distinctive collecting practices, which expand the remarkable vision of library founder Hubert Howe Bancroft–documenting California as it was happening and building a library for the American West that would rival its European antecedents.

Mark Twain materials in the new Bancroft Library exhibit

Presented by the Friends of The Bancroft Library.

The Bancroft Library Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm, excluding holidays.

For more information, please call 510-642-3782 or visit bancroft@berkeley.edu.

Western Americana display in the new Bancroft Library exhibit

Items in the new exhibit at The Bancroft Library

Arrival of the Mobe

by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.

From coast to coast, April 15, 1967, was a busy day for American anti-war protesters. Fifty years ago today, massive demonstrations filled the streets of New York and San Francisco as marchers denounced US involvement in Vietnam.

anti-war protester holding sign[Michelle Vignes photograph archive, BANC PIC 2003.108–NEG Box 19, Roll 1752, Frame 22, Bancroft Library]

 

The protests were organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, commonly referred to as “the Mobe,” which began in 1966 as a coalition of various groups opposed to the war. High profile names were among those who attended the marches, including Dr. Martin Luther King, who led the march in New York, and his wife Coretta King, who spoke to protesters at the counterpart demonstration in San Francisco. The Spring Mobilization protests were particularly noteworthy for the cooperation between civil rights and peace protesters in a greater effort to call for an end to the war.

The marches themselves were quite massive. In New York, upwards of 400,000 people joined the march which began in Central Park and was slated to end at the United Nations where speakers, including Dr. King, addressed the crowd. The demonstration in San Francisco, while smaller, still drew in between 75,000-100,000 protesters who walked from Second and Market Streets to Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. There, demonstrators were similarly treated to speeches by Coretta King as well as actor Robert Vaughn.

In Central Park, before the East Coast march got underway, there was a mass burning of draft cards. Protesters claimed to have burned nearly 200 draft cards, although this number was never verified.

Though the protests were peaceful, there were a few notable skirmishes. In New York, some demonstrators were bombarded by eggs thrown out the windows of various apartments on Lexington Avenue. Others were struck by red paint launched outside of police barricades on the march route. In Times Square, fights also broke out between motorists stalled by heavy traffic and demonstrators taking part in the march.

In both cities, counter-demonstrators popped up to voice their support of the war. In New York, pro-war protesters carrying American flags and signs ran on the sidewalks beside the protesters and heckled them. In San Francisco, a group of about 50 war supporters brought up the rear of the march into Kezar Stadium, also carrying signs with slogans like “Support Our Men in Vietnam” and “Communism is Red Fascism.” The group circled the track amidst loud booing from the anti-war demonstrators until they were escorted out of the stadium.

Fifty years later America still prides itself on the First Amendment which protects our right to freely speak and assemble. This year has already proved a strong one for protest, making its mark with the Women’s March in January. The demonstration was a shot heard round the world, when half a million demonstrators marched on Washington, and another 100,000 filled the streets of Downtown Oakland. The size was roughly on par with the anti-war demonstrations of a half century ago. Considering our present day advancements with social media to help get the word out, this makes the numbers of those who showed up to voice their anti-war beliefs in 1967 all the more impressive. But despite the differences, what the similarities between these two huge movements prove is that the American tradition of protest is still vibrant, 50 years on.

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