- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
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:
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.
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.
Local legend tells us that Sarah Winchester was a woman obessed. Was she consumed with the need to do what the spirits told her, or was she just misunderstood? Here are some books that you can read to make up your own mind about what you think Sarah Winchester and her Mystery House was all about...
"The Inscrutable Mrs. Winchester and Her Mysterious Mansion" attempts to dispell some of the myths surrounding her and gives insight on the facts that rarely come to light.
"Captive of the Labyrinth: Sarah L. Winchester heiress to the rifle fortune" gives an overview of of Sarah Winchester's life and attempts to demystify her as the notorious eccentric history has made her out to be.
Was she really trying to stave off the ghosts? Did she really believe that non-stop construction would confuse the spirits? Or is it possible that Sarah Winchester was really a loving, caring woman who mourned the loss of her husband and infant daughter, and just wanted to be left alone? Maybe we'll never know, but the great thing about this mystery is you get to decide!
Many of us come to the library to borrow the latest movie or newest bestseller, but did you know we also have items that are over 100 years old? The California Room is the home to three sculptures by 19th century African-American and Chippewa-Indian artist, Edmonia Lewis. To learn more about these sculptures, come to the California Room’s spring open house where local expert Mary Parks Washington will discuss the artist and her work.
Along with the sculpture presentation, we’ll be featuring some of our unique local history collections including: Frontier Village photos and memorabilia, items from the 1906 earthquake, local yearbooks dating back to the early 20th century and many other items you can’t find anywhere else! The open house will be this Wednesday, February 15th from 6-7:30pm.
If you are unable to make it to our open house, feel free to stop by during our open hours OR check out the many items available to you 24/7 in our digital collection.