- May 31 - King Library Opens at 1:00 PM
A common research topic at San Jose Public Library (SJPL) is about the birth of the Tech Industry in Silicon Valley. Much has been written on the subject, but recently a patron in the California Room inquired about how to locate original documents related to technology development in Silicon Valley. We started our search on the Online Archive of California (OAC) which provides free public access to descriptions of primary source materials. Participating intuitions include more than 200 universities, libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives in the State of California. Primary sources are documents created during the time period being studied. In the case of the high tech industry, primary sources include materials related to the operations of the business such as product catalogs, press releases, product literature, and annual reports.
We used the search term "Silicon Valley Tech Industry" on the OAC homepage and were able to locate a finding aid to a collection in the California Room at the San Jose Public Library titled The Silicon Valley Information Collection (SVIC). A finding aid is a document that summarizes a collection of papers or records. The descriptive information in the finding aid we located states that the SVIC collection contains documents and resources which chronicle the birth, development and impact of the high technology industries of Silicon Valley. We then followed a link to the SVIC index on the SJPL California Room webpage.
A quick search of the index led us to such unique material as Apple Computer, Inc. employee magazines from the 1980s, a press release binder from Atari Corporation (1987-88), and annual reports for Plantronics from 1974-1984.
The California Room houses many primary source documents; it is on the 5th Floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Villa Montalvo is the former residence of California businessman and politician James Duval Phelan. Taken between 1915-1902, this photo illustrates the estate's grandeur, but also how little it has changed since its construction. Construction of this Mediterranean style mansion began in 1912, before James Phelan became the first popularly elected Senator from California. A prominant member of the fraternal organization, The Native Sons of the Golden West, Phelan's rise in politics came in part from his successful leadership as a progressive Mayor of San Francisco (in office Jan 4, 1897 - Jan, 7 1902). His reputation as a polititian assured his participation in the Committee of Fifty, an extra-legal organization assembled by then Mayor of San Francisco, Eugene Schmitz, to help manage the extreme crisis after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire that destroyed much of the city.
A decade after leaving the Mayoral office in San Francisco, Phelan purchased 160 acres in the foothills of Saratoga to build his sprawling estate. In the photo you can see the front and side terraces with dramatic colonnades as well as the beginnings of extensive gardens that would cover large areas of the property. After fulfilling his term as California's first popularly elected Senator, Phelan returned to banking and collecting art at his country estate. James D. Phelan passed away at Villa Montalvo in 1930. He is now buried in the family mausoleum in Holy Cross Cemetery in the city of Colma, San Mateo County.
Today, Villa Montalvo has been transformed into the Montalvo Arts Center, a private non-profit arts center maintained in partnership with Santa Clara County. In fact, the Montalvo Arts Center's mission can be seen as inline with the dying Phelan's wishes, as he then bequeathed the property for public use. Phelan was explicit in his bequest, stating:
"I would like the property of Saratoga, California, known as Villa Montalvo, to be maintained as a public park open under reasonable restrictions, the buildings and grounds immediately surrounding the same to be used as far as possible for the development of art, literature, music, and architecture by promising students."
It seems that his wishes have been fulfilled.
Further Reading from the San Jose Public Library:
Imagine that you are living in America in 1849, and that you start hearing rumours about a gold strike in far-off California. They say you can pluck gold right out of the river, and can easily become a rich man! However, the road to California is hard. Why, 3 years ago, the Donner Party became snowbound on the way, and they say the survivors ran out of food and ate the dead!
How will you find out what's really happening? You’ll read the newspapers (or find someone to read them to you). Newspapers are the only significant media source you have. Those newspaper accounts are the best (and sometimes only) source of information around. Read the stories, and make your own decision on whether to go prospecting for gold in California!
Back in the 21st century, you can still get a taste of what people were reading about in 1849 and the following years. Newspaper accounts from that era are compiled in the book To the Golden Shore: America goes to California – 1840, by researcher and editor Peter Browning. These are the very stories that stoked gold rush fever in the U.S. Check it out, at San Jose Public Library!
We are surrounded by a cultural windfall of so many venues for viewing fine arts in the Bay Area. Last summer I had the serendipitous pleasure of stumbling upon a great exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California entitled All of Us or None: Social Justice Posters of the San Francisco Bay Area. This collection of unique local history provides an archival trove of beautiful poster art, some of them recognizable images of various eras, for which we have an accompanying catalog for that show in the California Room of the King Library. This show coincided at about the same time the New York Times was writing this piece about the revolutionary & radical roots of Oakland from the Black Panthers to the recent Occupy movement to remind us of a period and a place which is known for its fervent willingness to express social outrage, whether you support those expressions and ideas or not. Now, unfortunately, we have but the one solitary copy of the All of Us or None catalog in a location that is for library use only, but this being the internet/social media era and all (whooo!) I can share this link which will get you to the entire archive of the poster collection for your viewing pleasure.
Now, it would seem that nothing brings out the creative art of the poster quite like global politics and individual propaganda (well, maybe music?), so here are a couple of additional great-looking titles to share that might be worth a look as well: ¡Revolución!: Cuban Poster Art and Art for Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change. In the end though, nothing quite trumps opposition and political outrage as a vehicle for a determined creativity. I’m guessing that Ernesto "Che" Guevara will forever outsell our 44th President in long-standing sales of pop culture imagery and for that reason I’m thinking that poor Che continues to roll in his dusty grave. ¡Viva el capitalismo!
In celebration of National Preservation Week, San Jose Public Library is offering a way for you to preserve your personal and family memories. Library staff will be on hand to help you scan photographs and documents that have meaning in your life, and perhaps that you would like to share with others.
I have a photograph of my grandfather, a World War II veteran, who passed away last year. My grandmother gave me this image and also shared with me a few stories about how they first met and what their early years together were like. I would like to share this image and her personal stories with my 20 cousins spread throughout the United States. In this way the family memories can be saved and handed down.
Let us help you do the same. We welcome you to attend a Scan Day at any of the following times and places. Please bring up to ten items to scan and we will help you save the digitized images to a CD.
Thrusday, April 4th 11-1 pm
Friday, April 5th 2-4 pm
Thursday, April 11th 11-1 pm
Thursday, April 11th 4-6 pm
Interested in historic images of Santa Clara County? The San Jose Public Library's California Room and SJSU Special Collections and University Archives share a database of images from their collections. The King Library Digital Collections database offers a vast wealth of scanned and digitized images of Santa Clara Valley’s past that document the history of the Valley from its agricultural beginnings to a bustling metropolis. These images can be searched by keyword or by collection.
Some selections include:
Both library collections are constantly adding more images to the database, so check back often. If you are interested in the use of digital images for your research or publication, contact the department librarian holding the image.
This week we continue our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors. I also hope you'll join me this Saturday, September 22, for a walking tour of some of the important sites from the Hart case and other challenging times from San Jose's past. Grab your smartphone, sturdy walking shoes and a water bottle and meet me at St. Patrick's Church (389 E. Santa Clara St.) for the Scan Jose tour, Tragedies and Calamities. At each stop, we'll access historic photos and information related to an event that occurred at that very spot.
As we continue our discussion of Swift Justice and the events of 1933, we hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.
Our question this week is: What do you think of the statements and actions of Governor Rolph in support of the lynch mob? How is the public's faith in the justice system affected when even public officials will not give it a chance to work?
I found Governor Rolph's comments both before and after the lynching surprising. When Sheriff Emig called for assistance, the Governor apparently refused to even consider it, even though he was well aware of the possibility, even probability of violence. He told attorney Vincent Hallinan, "If they lynch those fellows, I'll pardon the lynchers." Later, he issued a statement that, "I'm not going to call out the Guard to protect the kidnappers who willfully killed that fine boy. Let the law take its course (p. 193)." By refusing repeated requests for assistance, Governor Rolph more or less insured that mob violence, rather than "the law" would "take its course." Elected officials swear an oath to uphold the law and that requires them to see that the rights and safety of all citizens, even those accused of heinous acts be insured. What did you think of the Governor's remarks? Should citizen's have faith in our justice system when even elected officials are not willing to give the system a chance to work?
This week we continue our discussion of Swift Justice by Harry Farrell which details the 1933 kidnapping of San Jose retail heir Brook Hart and the ultimate lynching of his accused abductors. Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas. We hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.
Our question this week is: From the time Brooke Hart was snatched off the street until Jack Holmes and Harold Thurmond were lynched, do you think the fates of these three men were sealed? Could different choices have potentially changed their outcomes?
I do think that there were decisions made along the way that may have affected the ultimate fates of these three men. I think that the decision to send home most of the police reinforcements and the lack of communication with officers standing by from other jurisdictions both contributed to the violence of that November night. I also think that there were opportunities to save young Hart's life, had observations been acted upon, especially the cries for help heard by the Ridleys. How about you? What choices or decisions do you think might have changed the outcome of these events?
For September 2012, our Online Book Club selection takes a step back in time, revisiting one of the most infamous events in San Jose’s history. In his true life police procedural Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town , award-winning author Harry Farrell documents the 1933 kidnapping and subsequent murder of Brooke Hart, heir apparent to a family owned San Jose department store. After Hart’s lifeless body is finally discovered, a mob gathers at the downtown jail leading to a night of violence and ultimately the lynching of the two suspects in custody. Although most of the key figures in the case are now gone, today’s readers will still recognize many of the locations central to a case that captivated our city nearly eighty years ago. For more information on the kidnapping and the violence that followed, visit the library's local history collection in the California Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library or visit key sites from the incident by grabbing your smart phone and retracing the steps of some of San Jose's greatest tragedies and calamities.
Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its ideas. We hope you will participate in the discussion by contributing your comments.
For Week 1, we'd like to ask: What factors led to the mob violence of 1933? Could such events happen in San Jose today?
Several factors contributed to the eruption of mob violence in 1933. I think one of these factors was the size of San Jose itself. San Jose was a much smaller town in 1933, before the rise of Silicon Valley. Brooke Harte was recognizable to the residents, many of whom shopped at the downtown store where he worked. They felt they knew him; many, in fact, did. I think this familiarity, real or imagined, contributed to the city’s sense of outrage over his kidnapping and murder. While most of us are saddened and disturbed by the disappearance of Sierra Lamar, for example, the majority of those searching for her, following her story and praying for her safe recovery do not know her personally. I think that familiarity, often missing in today’s large metropolitan areas, was one of the key factors that incited the city to violence in 1933. How about you? Do you think such events are still possible in San Jose today?
When Maria Delaney took the photos out of her folder, her face glowed as she showed me a family photo dated back to the early 1900s. Even though it definitely had signs of deterioration and fading, Maria was at the library to preserve this photo digitally. At Evergreen Branch Library’s Scan Day, Maria and other customers brought photos that weren’t “born digital” and created electronic copies.
Gloria Guel is one of many siblings in her family. “Everyone wanted the same picture but we only have one,” says Guel. So her solution: scan the photos and send electronic copies to everyone.
If you are interested in getting some photos scanned, you still have a chance! In celebration of National Preservation Week, Scan Days are planned at the following locations and dates:
Friday, April 13th 3-5pm
Saturday, April 21st 11-1pm
Customers are limited to 10 photos/documents to scan. Each customer will receive copies of their items on a CD. If you’d like to see what the library has as far as photos, take a look at our California Room’s Digital Collections.