- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
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?
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?
San José, Calif.– San José Public Library (SJPL) has developed a free new Smartphone enabled self-guided walking tour to give residents and tourists alike an interactive way to explore downtown San José and learn about the City’s history. The tour, called Scan Jose, was developed on a web application (app) made compatible for Smartphones. It showcases historic images from the collections of the San José Public Library’s California Room and the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History.
Scan Jose directs walkers to a variety of downtown landmarks. At each stop, historic photos and information related to an event that once occurred at that location will appear on the web app. The images used in the web app date back as far as the mid 1800s.
"We are very excited to introduce Scan Jose to the public, as it places some of the rarest pieces of SJPL’s history collection right into users’ hands. Plus, it offers a fun and free new way for residents and visitors to get active, connect with technology, and explore the rich history of our city all at once," said SJPL Director Jane Light.
Users can choose from three distinct tour options including; a walk around Plaza de Cesar Chavez, a stroll down Santa Clara Street, or a trip through some of downtown San José’s most historic tragedies and calamities.
To access Scan Jose, search for scanjose.org on a Smartphone or tablet computer web browser. All of the stops on the tours can also be viewed in 3D with the Layar augmented reality browser. To do this, visit the iTunes app store or the Android Marketplace, download the Layar app, and search for Scan Jose.
Scan Jose was supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. For more information, contact the San José Public Library at (408) 808-2369 or visit scanjose.org.
Scan Jose Launch Event – September 10, 2011
SJPL will host a special group tour of Scan Jose to celebrate its launch on Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. This free event is open to the public and will meet in front of the San Jose Museum of Art in downtown San José. Participants will have the opportunity to test out one of the tours on a group walk and should bring their own personal Smartphone to fully enjoy the experience. Library staff will be present to help first time users navigate the web app. Contact SJPL at (408) 808-2369 for more information.
About San José Public Library
San José Public Library system (SJPL) is the largest public library system between San Francisco and Los Angeles on the West Coast of California, serving a culturally diverse population of approximately 946,000 in the nation’s 10th largest city. Recipient of the prestigious national Library of the Year award, SJPL is recognized across the country for its innovation and leadership in the field and is one of the busiest library systems nationwide, with an annual checkout rate of more than 13.5 million items through 19 currently operating locations. For more information, visit www.sjpl.org.
About the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History
The Sourisseau Academy promotes local history through sponsoring research, educational programs, and publications. The Academy maintains an extensive photograph collection and historical ephemera relating primarily to the history of Santa Clara County and the central coast region of California. For more information, visit www.sourisseauacademy.org.
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I took the coolest walk this morning. Thanks to a new library resource made possible by a grant from the California State Library, I joined some friends and took a self-guided tour of historic downtown San José. By connecting to www.scanjose.org on a Smartphone I was able to view historic photographs from the library's California Room collection as I visited those same spots today. I took A Walk Around the Plaza which started at the San Jose Museum of Art (formerly both a post office and library) and stopped at San Jose's Chinatown, the site of a suspicious fire, the location of California's original state capitol and historic St. Joseph's Cathedral among other places. At each stop my phone revealed how that very spot appeared to visitors a hundred years or so ago! Scan Jose offers two more self guided tours as well. I can't wait to visit Old Santa Clara Street or experience Tragedies and Calamities from our city's past. I hope you'll join me.
Thanks to a Library Services and Technology Act grant and about a year's worth of hard work, we've created three walking tours of downtown San Jose that you can take using your smartphone and your feet!
There are three tours to choose from:
A Walk Around the Plaza - takes you on a loop around Plaza de Cesar Chavez
Tragedies and Calamities - a no holds barred look at some of the tragic events in San Jose history
Old Santa Clara Street - highlights some of the great architecture that has sprung up and come down over the years.
Don't have a smartphone? Come join us on September 10th at 11:30 for a group tour using smartphones and iPads to take A Walk Around the Plaza! We will meet in front of the Art Museum - 110 S. Market Street. I'll be there and I hope you will too!