Season of the Witch at San Francisco Public Library

One of the more exciting elements of working in the archives is seeing an author's project come to fruition. San Francisco History Center archivists helped local author David Talbot during his research for Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love. We assisted Talbot with navigating archival collections, accessing the San Francisco Ephemera & Biography Collections, and requesting newspaper clippings from the San Francisco Examiner Clipping Morgue. Talbot graciously recognizes the San Francisco History Center in his acknowledgements of his book:

Public libraries, like all institutions by and for the people in America these days, are endangered treasures. I relied enormously in my research on the dedicated and deeply informed staff of the San Francisco Public Library's History Center. Library archivist Susan Goldstein and her staff have a hidden empire of San Francisco history at their fingertips, and they bring it to life each day for numerous scholars and curious citizens. The serene and well-run History Center, on the sixth floor of the San Francisco Public Library's main branch, is the critical first stop for anyone trying to get a feel for this city's kaleidoscopic past. (p. vii)

Talbot's enthusiasm about researching in the San Francisco History Center surpassed his acknowledgements. He shared more about his research process during an interview with Tribute SF for the short film Past Present: San Francisco History Center.

George Moscone, circa 1975
As noted in the sources, archival collections Talbot explored during his research process included, Hippies Collection, Thomas J. Cahill Papers, Larry Beggs Papers on Huckleberry House, Kreemah Ritz Papers and Symbionese Liberation Army files. Additionally, Talbot used the biography folders of Harvey Milk, George Moscone, and Dianne Feinstein in the San Francisco Biography Collection.

Cover of The Oracle, 1967, illustration by Rick Griffin

Next week, David Talbot will be at the Sunset Branch (November 26) and the Main Library (November 28) to share from Season of the Witch. If you have not read the book, here's a nice Booklist review by Bridget Thoreson to get you interested:  
The liberation of San Francisco came with a price. Talbot presents the tempestuous years, from 1967 to 1982, as a new-versus-old battle for the city’s soul. In an extensive history bursting with details and larger-than-life personalities, Talbot champions the outsiders, a human carnival from hippies to drag queens to activists, against the authorities representing the old, mainly Catholic, establishment. The extensive cast of characters includes Janis Joplin, Patty Hearst, Jim Jones, Harvey Milk, and Bill Walsh. Talbot, who started the San Francisco–based web magazine Salon and previously wrote the bestseller Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years (2007), presents gripping accounts of both crime sprees and football showdowns. Even people who were there might take away something new, and for others, the book offers a comprehensive introduction to the era. Talbot believes modern San Francisco values have changed the world, and he explores the crucible of the transformation, in all its hope, violence, and glory.

An evening with author David Talbot -

Monday, November 26, 7:00 - 8:00 pm
Sunset Branch / 1305 18th Ave.

Wednesday, November 28, 6:30 - 8:00 pm
Main Library, Koret Auditorium / 100 Larkin St.

Add your name to the request list for the book. For an immediate read, copies of Season of the Witch will be for sale through the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library's Readers Bookstore.