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Head down memory lane with S.F. History Days, park posters in Berkeley

By February 25, 2019 April 10th, 2019 No Comments
Neon signs and “ghost” signs will be the topic of exhibits and a presentation during the two-day San Francisco History Days event at the Old Mint on March 2 and 3.

Whether you’ve only recently developed an interest in history or you’re looking to delve deeper into topics, a pair of free Bay Area events coming up on the same weekend will offer the chance to further your appreciation on a variety of topics.

San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint

This two-day event is a showcase of history groups not just in San Francisco — which is the most represented — but also other parts of the Bay Area, as well as regional organizations. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 2 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 3.

There are more than 75 exhibitors scheduled to have tables and displays at the community open house where “community historians, archivists, genealogists, archaeologists, researchers, educators, re-enactors and other history enthusiasts” will gather for the annual extravaganza.

Presentations will cover a wide variety of topics of local interest each day.

Programs on March 2 will include “Nature in Our Neighborhoods,” “Colonel Charles Young, Buffalo Soldier,” “Spanish and Mexican San Francisco: Colonialism and Its Consequences,” “Paradise Found: San Francisco and The Story of The African American Concert Singer,” and “San Francisco Cultural Districts: What They Are and Why They Matter.”

Among the presentations on March 3 will be “Homefront and Labor: San Francisco During World War II,” “Historic Signs in San Francisco, from Ghost Signs to Neon,” and a personal favorite, “The Importance of Neighborhood Newspapers to San Francisco: Digital Archiving Saves Community History.”

The setting of History Days is worth a visit in itself and tours will be offered of the Old Mint, a national landmark that survived the 1906 earthquake and continued as an active federal facility until 1937.

The stately building, long in need of repair and restoration, is at 88 Fifth St. at the corner of Fifth and Mission streets in San Francisco, one block from Market Street and the Powell Street BART station.

This event is free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. For more details, including a full schedule of presentations, check the San Francisco History Days website.

WPA posters for the national parks will be the topic of a Berkeley Historical Society program March. 3. (Photo courtesy of Berkeley Historical Society)

Ranger of the Lost Art: WPA Posters of National Parks

Part of the artistic legacy of a New Deal program will be examined at a free talk from 2 to 4 p.m. March 3 at the Berkeley Historical Society’s center at 1931 Center St.

Speaker Doug Leen will discuss the distinctive national park travel posters created by artists commissioned by the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration.

Leen is a longtime researcher of  the posters and in 1993 founded Ranger Doug Enterprises to reproduce them as a fundraiser for Grand Teton National Park, where he worked as a seasonal ranger for seven years.

The WPA project “commissioned artists to create murals, photographs, sculptures, and paintings, including more than two million posters — many designed and printed on the edge of the Berkeley campus at the Western Museum Laboratory,” says the Berkeley Historical Society.  “Only a few thousand of the historic posters survive today. “

Leen “will discuss the WPA’s iconic park posters — their creation, loss, rediscovery and the role of public art and infrastructure in America today. He will be introduced by Harvey Smith, local Berkeley New Deal expert and co-curator of the current exhibit at the History Center.”

John Aronovici will have a display of artwork by and photographs of his mother, Elizabeth Ginno, at work for the WPA at the Western Museum Laboratory and at the Golden Gate International Exposition.

Reproductions of the WPA national park posters in various sizes and formats will be on sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Berkeley Historical Society.

Admission is free and the History Center is wheelchair accessible. For more details, check out the Facebook page.