In the Library: Hidden Histories of African Americans in the Bay Area


Tuesday, February 18, 2020 6:00PM

In the Library: Hidden Histories of African Americans in the Bay Area
Tickets are now Sold Out








Where: California Historical Society Headquarters, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

Cost: $15 General Admission, $10 for CHS Members.

Join us for a special one-night only exhibition of rare materials from the CHS collections. Curated by Susan Anderson and CHS Reference Librarian, Frances Kaplan, the display of these archival materials will help reveal the hidden history of multicultural California’s 19th century African American past. Susan Anderson will lead a talk that will begin with the Gold Rush and weave California’s raucous beginnings into the national narrative – in which African Americans around the country, including famous abolitionists such as Frederick Douglass, debated in newspapers and conventions the meaning of the Gold Rush for black America at the time. The photographs, manuscripts, publications, and documents discussed and exhibited in this presentation will allow visitors to experience the urgency of early campaigns for civil rights and the fervent hopes of the largely sophisticated African American community in Northern California. Learn about the beloved ship’s captain known as “The Black Ahab” who has a street named for him in West Oakland. Hear a Civil War poem by a distinguished black poet and friend of John Brown that was proclaimed in public in 1864. See court documents recording the lawsuit of a woman who successfully challenged discrimination on streetcars 90 years before Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. This In the Library presentation proves that California’s history is much more challenging, complicated, and fascinating than we’ve been taught.

About the Speaker:

Susan D. Anderson

Before coming to CHS in 2018, Susan D. Anderson was Interim Chief Curator at the African American Museum & Library at Oakland, and the founder and principal of Memory House, a curatorial consulting firm, with clients including the National Parks Service, the City of Berkeley, and the Richmond Museum of History. She has been a curator at UCLA Library Special Collections and USC Libraries and published and lectured widely on California history. Her maternal family began arriving in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1880, making her a third-generation Californian. Her book, African Americans and the California Dream, will be published by Heyday Books.

Image caption: Capt. William T. Shorey and wife Julia Shelton, daughters Zenobia and Victoria, ca. 1910, California Historical Society Portrait Collection