California and the West

The California and the West study group consists of Institute members with a particular interest in the history of our region. Often we find our areas of research overlap, leading to new insights and resources. Past presentations by members have covered such topics as the roles of different ethnic groups in San Francisco history, women’s religious orders, the history of the League of Women Voters in Berkeley, art and museums in San Francisco, the Grabhorn Press, and individuals of historical note.

Increasingly, we have been organizing day trips, open to all Institute members, to points of historical interest in the Bay Area. One recent excursion included a tour of Jack London State Historical Park in Sonoma County followed by a program put on by the Glen Ellen Historical Society. On another occasion, we visited the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and the McCune Collection of the history of fine printing.

For more information or to offer a program or tour, contact Judith Offer or Ann Harlow.

California and the West Events


On March 27th, we will visit an exhibition at the Los Gatos History Museum, "American Bohemia: The Cats Estate in Los Gatos.” This exhibition centers around the lives of poet and suffragist Sara Bard Field and lawyer and writer C.E.S. Wood, and their time in California. (Many Institute members have heard about the two from member Bonda Lewis.) We are investigating whether a tour for our group of the actual estate might be possible on the same day. There will also be an optional evening event in conjunction with the exhibit, a panel discussion on Field and Wood, offered as "a salon-style evening of conversation, food, and drink with scholars", from 7-9 pm. Ann Harlow will be organizing this trip along with new member Katie Sibley, a Los Gatos resident.

The summer excursion will be to the Red Oak Victory Ship in Richmond, details to be announced.

The fall excursion will be to Sonoma, for a tour of historic sites around the Plaza, including Mission San Francisco Solano, and the Mission Barracks, by Peter Meyerhof. Details TBA.

In November, the ad hoc California and the West Planning Committee will meet again to plan 2015. All options will be open, including more or less frequent meetings, as well as lectures (in house or to other groups or schools), discussions, or any other plan of interest to aficionados of California history. Any member who would like to influence the group choices is invited to participate. Contact Jody Offer or Ann Harlow to attend this meeting, or with questions or suggestions.


Winter 2014:  Tour of California Historical Society exhibition on Juana Briones, January 25 

Fall 2013: Organizational meeting, November 2

Summer 2013:  Green Gulch Farm Zen Center visit, August 15  

Spring 2013: Visits to Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum and the McCune Collection at the Vallejo Public Library, April 13

Fall 2012:  A day in Glen Ellen—private tour of Jack London State Historic Park, lunch at Jack London Village, program by Glen Ellen Historical Society, October 20