Friday, April 17, 2015

Spotlight on San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue

Communist demonstrators in front of German consulate,
1937, Call Bulletin photo
Between 1966 and 1969, the San Francisco Examiner donated two libraries of photographs --what newspapermen call “morgues”-- to the San Francisco Public Library. The combined gift of the morgues from the San Francisco News and Hearst’s San Francisco Call-Bulletin was an estimated 2 million photographs.
Fireman on the Embarcadero Freeway near Front St., 1959,
San Francisco News photo









The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue (SFP 39) represents the working files created and used by the newspapers’ staff between the 1920s and September 1965. It consists primarily of images from news agencies and wire services depicting local, state, national and international events and people; together with photographs by local staff photographers, studio portraits, and promotional photographs supplied to the newspapers by families or agencies. Political, social, and cultural leaders, crime victims and suspects, celebrities, athletes and sporting events, accident scenes and victims, street scenes, shipping and waterfront views, and buildings are among the common subjects. This collection is one of the richest sources of historical news photographs documenting San Francisco’s modern development.

Upon receipt of the collection in 1966, photographs of San Francisco places and portraits of local, famous individuals were separated and transferred to the San Francisco History Room (now the San Francisco History Center). These photographs were interfiled with additional photographs from many other sources to form the base of the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection. In the late 1980s, the rest of San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue was transferred to the San Francisco History Center. The San Francisco News-
Paulette Hefner being escorted from
The Cellar nightclub by Amy Sliger,
1965, News-Call Bulletin photo
Call Bulletin
Photo Morgue does make up the bulk of the San Francisco History Subject Collection. However, the morgue also includes statewide, national, and international subjects and people that have not been digitized or cataloged. There are over 1,200 cartons of photographs in off-site storage and the majority of the photographic print files remain in their original order, as received by the library. The files that were not broken up and distributed to library subject files are divided into nine series, with an alphabetic code assigned to each series. Five series are from The Call Bulletin and The News-Call Bulletin and four series are the files of The San Francisco News. Since these two groupings represent the files of separate newspapers over a roughly parallel period, there is significant overlap in content. All of the series include interfiled Call Bulletin staff photographs, submitted photographs (studio portraits or promotional photos), and wire or news agency photographs (news wire service photographs include Acme, Associated Press and International News). Approximately 40% of the "People" files and probably up to 90% of some geographic files are from news agencies. Researchers may request for people, places and subjects to be searched in the morgue. There is an in-house guide that breaks down the series - with detailed lists of subjects and famous people. When researchers order scans from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue, selections are cataloged and added to the online database.


Market Street, 1960,
San Francisco News-Call Bulletin photo
The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue is one of the largest and most significant photograph morgues of a twentieth century American newspaper that is open for research in a public library (list of newspaper photograph morgues in custody of public institutions). Photographs from the morgue have been published in books, displayed in exhibitions, added as rich content in documentaries, and of course, liked, shared and tweeted via social media -  locally, nationally and worldwide. What's on the 6th Floor likes digging deep into the photo files for the series "It Came From the (Photo) Morgue!" In the late 1960s, the Hearst Corporation transferred copyright of staff photographers to the San Francisco Public Library.

Please come visit and explore the morgue!

The San Francisco Examiner split the newspaper morgue gift and the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin negatives were donated to the Bancroft Library.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Annual Wit and Humor Exhibition-- Mad World: Subversive Humor Magazines from the Schmulowitz Collection




Subversive humor magazines have pushed the boundaries of civility and politics since the nineteenth century. They’ve been loved, hated, banned and worse. Most of us are familiar with Punch, MAD magazine, The Onion, The New Yorker, and now Charlie Hebdo, but did you know that Charlie Hebdo derived its dual inspiration from MAD magazine and the satirical French magazine, L’Assiette au Beurre (The Butter Dish)?



                                                                  
You may be surprised to learn that the founders of Punch were inspired by the French humor magazine Le Charivari. Few of us may know that the Muslim world embraced one of the most acerbic humor magazines published in the early twentieth century, Molla Nasreddin, founded in Azerbaijan in 1906. This beloved magazine continued to be published through 1930 until it was shut down by Soviet authorities. Unfortunately, San Francisco Public Library does not hold any issues.

Mad World: Subversive Humor Magazines from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor gathers together some of the most irreverent magazines from around the world, reviewing the antecedents that helped to radicalize modern cartoonists and humorists, while connecting the dots to twenty-first century humor magazines. Mad World is a visual display of in-your-face humor, outrage, and shocking reality in a war-torn time where humor will, if we let it, dominate the world. The exhibition opens April Fools' Day in the Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library; on view through May 31.




The Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor (SCOWAH) is the happy result of the biblio-adventures of one man, Nat Schmulowitz—lawyer, library commissioner, and humanist—who collected printed humor from around the world. One aspect of his collecting habit was his ongoing search for humor magazines. SCOWAH is a rich source of both classics, and long forgotten titles, with strong examples of Cold War underground humor. The collection includes over 250 magazine titles, many of which were subscribed to or collected by Nat: a real slice of life from the old world. Here on display are just a few periodicals from the saucy, satiric, mad world of SCOWAH.

On April 1, 1947, as a measure of his interest in the Library, Nat Schmulowitz presented ninety-three jest books, including an edition of the Hundred Merry Tales, as the first step toward the establishment of a research collection of wit and humor.

The Schmulowitz Collection of Wit and Humor now contains more than 23,000 books, as well as periodicals, audiovisual materials and ephemera; it is a growing collection in thirty-eight languages and dialects. Located in the Book Arts & Special Collections Center, SCOWAH is one of the most important research collections of its kind, and characteristically reflects the eclectic humor of its founder, whose motto still resonates: 

“Without humor, we are doomed.”

Related Programs:

Thursdays at Noon Film Series: Comedy Films -

Featuring Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (April 2); Crumb (April 9); Network (April 16); Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (April 23); and They Live (April 30). All films are shown with captions when possible to assist the deaf and hard of hearing. Main Library, Koret Auditorium.

The Politics of Humor: Jack Boulware (founder of the satirical magazine The Nose and co-founder, Litquake) and political cartoonist Mark Fiore in conversation. Tuesday, May 5, 6 p.m., Koret Auditorium, Main Library.

For more information about these and other Library programs and exhibitions, please call (415) 557-4277.

All programs at the Library are free.



  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Printing Valentines on the Albion Handpress: 14 February 2015

Gary Price and Fred Voltmer being precise.
The 4th Annual Valentine Broadside Printing event was another rousing success.

The planning started well in advance. The inordinate amount of necessary prep work is painstaking. But to the printers, all of it is fun.

Even on the day of the event, there was a lot of fine-tuning to do.

Grendl Löfkvist and Fred Voltmer being precise.


Above you can see the copper block in the bed with the little red heart visible. The experts are aligning the paper on the tympan.  


Li Jiang inking.
  Inking the block again. Red ink of course.


Penelope Houston getting ready ...

With the frisket closed over the tympan, you can see the paper peeking through. 
Next steps: close it up, roll it under the platen, turn the rounce handle, and pull the bar handle.


Gretta Mitchell and Fred Voltmer.
Here you can see the happy result!


Photo courtesy of Gretta Mitchell.
More happy printers!


Norman McKnight with broadsides. Photo courtesy of Gretta Mitchell.
Norman, with the broadsides from our previous valentine printing events.


Valentines laid out in the SF History Center Reading Room

By the end of the afternoon, production printing filled the room.


Gary Price helping the curious.
Back in the Rare Book Room, everyone waiting to print on the Albion, got to practice on the little Golding "toy" handpress. And of course, we had another capable expert from the American Printing History Association's NorCal chapter supervising the entire process.

It was just another Valentine's Day in Book Arts & Special Collections at the SFPL.

Photo courtesy of Gretta Mitchell.


Happy Valentine's Day!

Watch the video from last year's event.

 


Monday, March 9, 2015

It Came From the (Photo) Morgue!: Coffee Time

It's Monday morning... time for some coffee.


[Pre-Photoshop cut and paste photo manipulation. Written on the back is: "left to right - Baker, Albert; Mrs. Moy, Martha; Harriger, Louis" Dated Feb. 26, 1927.] [P31 BAKER, A]

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The San Francisco Public Library owns the photo morgue of the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, a daily newspaper that covered the time period from the 1920s to 1965. Much of the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection comes from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue. However, the morgue also includes statewide, national, and international subjects and people that have not been digitized or cataloged. When researchers order scans from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue,selections are cataloged and added to the online database.

Looking for a historical photograph of San Francisco? Try our online database first. Not there? Come visit us at the Photo Desk of the San Francisco History Center, located on the sixth floor at the Main Library. The Photo Desk hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. You may also request photographs from the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Guest Blogger - Abigail Markwyn: Researching the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

The San Francisco History Center is pleased to present author and historian Abigail Markwyn speaking about Spectacle, Identity, and Citizenship: Bay Area Ethnic and Racial Communities at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition on Wednesday, March 11 at 6:00pm in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room at the Main Library. Dr. Markwyn has written a guest blog post for "What's On the 6th Floor" about doing research for her book in archives.

Researching the Panama-Pacific International Exposition
by Abigail Markwyn
California Invites the World, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
California Invites the World



When I began my research on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition years ago, nothing was digitized. That meant that archives like the San Francisco History Center were absolutely essential to my work. It was in the History Center that I discovered photos and pamphlets, official memos, press releases, and letters that all helped me bring the fair to life. Eventually, this research formed the basis for Empress San Francisco: The Pacific Rim, the Great West, and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Even today – or rather, especially today – when many historical documents are digitized, there remains much to be learned from visiting the collections of libraries and archives.







  
The People's Easy Guide to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
The People's Easy Guide to the PPIE



Pamphlets, such as the Exposition City, or the Carnival Spirit of San Francisco offered me insight into just how fair boosters sought to “sell” the city to tourists. They emphasized things like the city’s cosmopolitan population, pleasant climate, and plentiful economic opportunities in the hopes of convincing tourists to consider making the city their home. Other pieces of publicity stressed the fun parts of the fair – the Joy Zone, the restaurants, and the many works of art. Still others reminded visitors of the educational features of the fair. [Archivist's note: these resources are available in the San Francisco History Center's San Francisco Ephemera Collection.]




Photographs, like this one of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's Woman’s Board revealed to me the extent of these women’s involvement in the fair. Here, they host a dinner for visiting dignitaries and officials, performing an act of cultural diplomacy in their capacity as hostess.
 
Women's Board Dinner - California Building, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Women's Board Dinner - California Building, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915


Japan Day, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, August 31, 1915. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
Japan Day, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, August 31, 1915

Others, such as these of Japan Day at the fair, reveal in full detail the numerous celebrations that occurred on the grounds to celebrate Japan, even as many Californians vehemently spouted anti-Japanese rhetoric and supported anti-immigrant measures aimed at the Japanese.






Dedication of Swedish Building at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Dedication of Swedish Building at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915


Ethnic communities from across the Bay Area gathered on the fair grounds to celebrate their heritage, as this photo of the dedication of the Swedish Building at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition illustrates.











"African Dip" in The Zone at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
"African Dip" in The Zone at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915
Photographs also reveal the full extent of the racial biases present on the fair grounds. African Americans found little to celebrate at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, as the attraction below reveals.  Despite attempts by local blacks to contact fair officials to arrange for exhibits that featured African American accomplishments, blacks remained sidelined at the fair, mainly relegated to demeaning attractions such as the “African Dip,” pictured here.


Historians rely on many kinds of sources for their research, but as these photos reveal, the topic of a World’s Fair lends itself particularly to reliance on the visual record. Collections such as those of the San Francisco Public Library are essential to telling these stories, and I’m forever grateful to those librarians a hundred years ago who carefully collected and cataloged these!

Your invitation to Dr. Markwyn's talk - 



Monday, February 23, 2015

A Spirited Tour of the Grabhorn Collection with Alastair Johnston



Alastair Johnston will present a spirited tour of the Robert Grabhorn Collection on the History of Printing and the Development of the Book on Wednesday, March 4th, at 6pm, in the Koret Auditorium of the Main Library. Johnston, of Poltroon Press, is an old friend of the Marjorie G. and Carl W.Stern Book Arts & Special Collections Center and has worked extensively with the collections. He promises a lively and fascinating illustrated talk, full of surprises, about one of the most important collections at the San Francisco Public Library. For a preview, we recommend Alastair’s article on the collection, which can be found on our website. 
Here's a taste of what will he'll be discussing:
Grabhorn Collection
Oliver Byrne, The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid.  (Chiswick Press, 1847)

Grabhorn Collection
Libro del Cosmographia. (Pedro Apiano,1548)

Grabhorn Collection
Margaret Rust, The Queen of the Fishes. (Eragny Press, 1894)



 Alastair Johnston is the author of Transitional Faces: The Lives & Work of Richard Austin, Type-cutter and Richard Turner Austin, Wood-engraver (2013), Typographic Tourists: Tales of the Tramping Printer (2012), Alphabets to Order (2000),  A Bibliography of the White Rabbit Press (1985), A Bibliography of the Auerhahn Press (1976), and other works.

 Author's photo courtesy Grace Gomez.