A Lecture & Collection Viewing in Celebration of the Emperor Norton Bicentennial

Thursday, February 1, 2018 6:00PM

<p>A Lecture & Collection Viewing in Celebration of the Emperor Norton Bicentennial</p>
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A Lecture & Collection Viewing in Celebration of the Emperor Norton Bicentennial

This event is part of Emperor Norton at 200, a series of exhibits, talks, toasts and other special events organized by The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, in partnership with Bay Area institutions, to mark the bicentennial of Emperor Norton's birth. To learn about other events in the series, please visit http://www.EmperorNortonat200.org.

Today, Emperor Norton is seen as a patron saint of his adopted city of San Francisco — and as an early champion of the values of fairness, tolerance, self-determination and the common good that came to be identified more broadly with San Francisco, Oakland and the Bay Area.

But, who is Emperor Norton, really?

  • Is he the Emperor who actually lived and reigned from San Francisco between his public self-declaration on 17 September 1859 and his death on 8 January 1880?
  • Is he the Emperor of folklore who has been misremembered and mythologized, for better and worse, in the 138 years since his death?
  • Is he an Emperor that lies somewhere between these two poles?
  • And which of these Emperors should we remember and carry with us into the next century?
  • The best-available historical evidence points to 4 February 1818 as the birth date of Joshua Abraham Norton, whom history best remembers as — full title! — Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

    This makes 2018 the 200th anniversary of the Emperor's birth.

    Please join The Emperor's Bridge Campaign and the California Historical Society for a special evening to kick off the celebration of the Emperor Norton bicentennial.


  • The evening begins with a wine-and-beer reception starting at 6 p.m.
  • From 6 to 7 p.m., the California Historical Society will exhibit, in its North Baker Research Library, the Society's collection of rarely displayed Emperor Norton artifacts and ephemera, including one of the Emperor's walking sticks; a number of his imperial promissory notes; several of his telegrams; and many photographs and postcards of the Emperor.
  • At 7 p.m., John Lumea, the founder and president of The Emperor's Bridge Campaign, will offer a lecture, "Will the Real Emperor Norton Please Stand Up?", that asks: Who is Emperor Norton? What does it mean to say that Emperor Norton was an eccentric? Why do we latch on to certain parts of his story and not to others? Should we update our vision of the Emperor?
  • About The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

    The Emperor's Bridge Campaign is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works on a variety of fronts to advance the legacy of Emperor Norton. Initially known for its ongoing project in support of adding "Emperor Norton Bridge" as a parallel name for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Campaign has built out its mission to include conducting original research and producing educational and commemorative events about the Emperor. The Campaign's interest in both the biographical record and the cultural legacy of Emperor Norton is reflected in two online tools: its digital ARchive of Emperor Norton in Art, Music & Film (ARENA) and its Emperor Norton Map of the World, an annotated interactive map of sites where Joshua / Emperor Norton lived, worked and visited. The Emperor's Bridge Campaign seeks to become the leading public resource on Emperor Norton. The Campaign's Web site is http://www.EmperorsBridge.org

    John Lumea is the president of The Emperor's Bridge Campaign. Educated in philosophy and religion at the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland, and Duke University, he has worked in the nonprofit realm as a communications and branding strategist. As a writer and activist, Lumea's interests have focused on issues in history, urban design, architectural preservation, culture and politics. His writing and projects have been written up in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Bay Guardian — and by KQED, Atlas Obscura, SFist, Hoodline and 7x7.

    Information About the Event

  • The event is $10 general admission, free for California Historical Society members, and free for The Emperor's Bridge Campaign Members
  • Members of The Emperor's Bridge Campaign are entitled to free admission. Please contact the Campaign for a promo code. The promo code box will be in the top right corner. Type in the code and click submit to see your pricing change!
  • Images courtesy of The Emperor's Bridge Campaign

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