Member Profiles and News

This is just a sampling of our members. Some have book covers illustrated on the Member Publications page; the pictures here represent other projects of members. If you are a member and would like to submit a profile or image, please email it to


Margaret Fuller

Judith Strong Albert’s career as writer and educator has included lectureships at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley. Her book Minerva’s Circle describes four 19th-century New England women—Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Peabody, Lydia Maria Child, and Caroline Healey Dall—and explores their impact on late 20th-century feminists including Gerda Lerner, Gloria Steinem, Carolyn Heilbrun and Betty Friedan — with an eye to seeing how issues confronting the original circle have been met and dealt with over time. These persistent issues include women’s and children’s rights, civil rights and human rights. She is a contributing book reviewer for the Women’s Studies Interdisciplinary Journal.

Sue Bessmer
earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University in 1976. Her dissertation on The Laws of Rape was published in Praeger’s Landmark Dissertations in Women’s Studies series. For more than 20 years she taught Interdisciplinary Social Science at San Francisco State University, with an emphasis on the many and various ways geography, economics and politics shaped the course of human history. She is the author of How the World Worked: From the Pharaohs to Christopher Columbus (2013) and her website is

Patricia Bracewell earned an M.A. in English Literature and a Secondary Teaching Credential from UC Santa Barbara. She taught high school English for a number of years, but eventually turned her hand to writing fiction. A lifelong fascination with British history and a chance, on-line reference to an unfamiliar English queen led to years of research, a summer course in Anglo-Saxon history at Cambridge University, and the penning of her debut novel, Shadow on the Crown, published by Viking in 2013. Set in 11th century England, it is the first book of a trilogy about Emma of Normandy. The sequel, The Price of Blood, was published in early 2015 as a hardcover, e-book and audio book. Patricia is now at work on the final novel of the series. Website:

Alan Chadwick at Covelo Garden, mid-1970s (Alan Chadwick Archive)

Dot Brovarney works as a consulting historian through her business, Landcestry ( She specializes in research, oral history, writing, and exhibit development. Her current endeavor is an oral history of student apprentices who trained under master gardener and teacher Alan Chadwick at five organic gardens between 1967 and 1980 ( Brovarney, who earned her M.A. from UCSB, spent ten years in the museum field and recently researched and curated an exhibit on California native plant specialist Carl Purdy. She is co-author of the book Remember Your Relations: The Elsie Allen Baskets, Family & Friends (Heyday Books, 2005).


Illustration from David Chadwick’s novel “To Find the Girl from Perth”

David Chadwick: In 1966 I started practicing Zen Buddhism at the San Francisco Zen Center with Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, who ordained me as a priest in 1971 just before he died. I continued my studies with Zentatsu Baker Roshi and helped the Zen Center develop its centers and businesses. For the last twenty years or so I’ve mainly worked on writing and preserving the legacy of Shunryu Suzuki, whose biography, Crooked Cucumber, I wrote. My three Zen websites are the main repository of this work, but I am aiming at several other books. is an extensive oral history, and presents the archive of Suzuki’s lectures, audio, transcripts, film, and photos. I am currently working with over a dozen volunteers online to develop and improve this archive.

Chandler-stagecoachRobert J. Chandler is curious and inquisitive.  From his UC Riverside dissertation on “The Press and Civil Liberties in California During the Civil War” and 32 years as Senior Research Historian for Wells Fargo Bank, he has written more than 50 articles on California during the Gold Rush and Civil War on civil rights, commerce, finance,  gold, journalism, politics, military suppression, numismatics, philately, printing, stagecoaching, steamships,  and Wells Fargo generally. Books include an Illustrated History of California (2004); an Arcadia Wells Fargo (2006); and San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown (University of Oklahoma Press, 2014).


Mayors Angelo Rossi (SF) and Fiorello LaGuardia (NY) on Golden Gate Bridge, 1937 (SF Public Library)

Rose Marie Cleese: My research/writing has taken two paths over the years. The first, more scholarly path includes the biography I’m currently researching and writing on Angelo J. Rossi, mayor of San Francisco from 1931 to 1944 and my maternal grandfather. I’ve also written several historical articles for the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society’s Panorama. The second, more commercial path, which is rooted in my editorial and copywriting career, includes my having written back cover and jacket copy for hundreds of non-fiction books. I’ve also copy-edited numerous trade books, including Castle in the Sky: George Whittell Jr. and the Thunderbird Lodge.

Col. Volney V. Ashford in Honolulu Rifles dress uniform

Col. Volney V. Ashford in Honolulu Rifles uniform

Neil Bernard Dukas has authored two books on the pre-annexation military history of Hawaii. He is currently working on a detailed biography of Colonel Volney V. Ashford (First Regiment of Hawaiian Volunteers), a comparative paper on the Hawaiian Articles of War, and a study of Hawaii’s armed forces during the reign of King Kalakaua. Website:

Hallidie 1876

Andrew Hallidie, 1876

Taryn Edwards is a Librarian for the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco and is researching the life of its President, Andrew Smith Hallidie—one of the most extraordinary figures of 19th century San Francisco—and his role within that 160-year-old institution. She is fascinated by the “mechanics” of writing in the digital age: how authors and historians manage their research, design their project’s structure, and use technology to supplement their workflow. She lives in the beautiful East Bay with her husband, daughter, and two energetic dogs. Her blog is at

Leslie Friedman

Leslie Friedman

Leslie Friedman is a dancer and choreographer with an A.B. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in modern British history from Stanford University. She has taught British history at Stanford, Case Western Reserve, and Mills College. Often her choreography is based on real historic events, such as World War I and the California Gold Rush. She has performed and lectured internationally, in part through the Fulbright Association and the US State Department. Artistic director of The Lively Foundation and co-editor of its international arts review The Hedgehog, her writing on history and the arts has been published in France, India, and Poland as well as in the US.


“Sailing to Australia,” ex-voto painting by Giovanni Vanoni

Marilyn L. Geary is an oral historian and writer interested in immigration and regional California history. Through Circle of Life Stories, a history preservation service, she helps individuals, families, and organizations save their past. A native Californian born in the Santa Clara Valley, she is the author of Marin City Memories, a book based on the oral histories of African-Americans who migrated to the San Francisco Bay Area during World War II to work in the shipyards. She is currently writing a non-fiction account of the lives of three Swiss-Italian brothers who immigrated to California and Australia in the mid-1800s.

"Ravenlocks," ca. 1917, by Anne Bremer

“Ravenlocks,” ca. 1917, by Anne Bremer

Ann Harlow is an independent art historian specializing in California art from 1850 to 1950. With an M.A. in art history from U.C. Berkeley, she worked at the Oakland Museum, Mills College Art Museum, and for sixteen years as the director of the art museum of Saint Mary’s College, Moraga, California. In addition to exhibition catalog essays, she has  published two articles in The Argonaut, Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. She is working on a biography of two prominent early-20th-century San Franciscans, artist Anne M. Bremer and arts patron Albert M. Bender.  Some of her writings are at


Alva Myrdal

Sondra R. Herman (“Sunny”) is a retired community college history teacher with an interest in peace studies, internationalism, and women in the European welfare states. She is the author of Eleven Against War: Studies in American Internationalist Thought, 1898-1921 (Stanford, Hoover Press, 1969) and has published essays on Alva Myrdal, Swedish social reformer and diplomat, in Scandinavian Studies (Summer 1995), Peace and Change (October 1998), Alva Myrdal in International Affairs (Uppsala, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Report No. 66, December 2003), and Feminist Writings from Ancient Times to the Modern World (Tiffany K. Wayne, editor, Greenwood Press, 2011), vol. 2.


Attacking the Spanish Infantry (about 1740)

Richard Herr: Serving in the US Army in Europe in World War II got me interested in the history of France, especially the French Revolution.  From there I  moved into the history of Spain, which became my area of specialization on the faculty of UC Berkeley. My archival research has been primarily on Spain in the 18th century, but teaching Western Civ and  seminars has led me to write also on the history of agriculture and social and national identities in modern Europe and the  US.

Patrick Cahill

David Hirzel’s studies in polar exploration have resulted in several books and plays, with more on the way. Three volumes look deeply into the experiences of Irish explorer Tom Crean’s experiences in the Antarctic in 1901-1916 with Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions and Shackleton’s Endurance. Rough Weather All Day presents Patrick Cahill’s daily journal of the disastrous Rodgers expedition in 1881. David’s Terra Nova Press is actively seeking unpublished first-hand accounts of maritime and polar experiences for consideration. When not pursuing a living in architectural design, he writes from his home overlooking the sea in Pacifica. Website:

Ellen Huppert, one of the founding members of the Institute, was originally a specialist in nineteenth-century French intellectual history. She is currently working on the story of five people living in Michigan in the nineteenth century.  Based on unpublished journals and letters, the book chronicles life from the pioneer years beginning in 1827 until 1914.


James Hopper, Herman Scheffauer, Harry Lafler, and George Sterling at the Bohemian Grove, 1907, Courtesy Bancroft Library

Joanne Lafler, a founding member of the Institute (and of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars), did her doctorate at UC Berkeley in seventeenth and eighteenth-century British theater history.  After publishing her first book — a biography of the eighteenth-century actress Anne Oldfield —  she turned  to early twentieth century California history.  The subject of her second biography is Henry Anderson Lafler (her husband’s father), a major figure in San Francisco’s bohemian world and still remembered for his eye-witness accounts of the 1906 earthquake and fires.

Levi-Phantom Dogsled

Steven Levi’s video, “The Phantom Dogsled”

Steven C. Levi is a freelance writer and historian doing time as a grant writer in Anchorage, Alaska. He has written more than 80 books, many of them available on Kindle. He has two areas of expertise: the Alaska Gold Rush and the “teens”: America from 1911 to 1919. He is also the inventor of a new way of thinking which won a $40,000 grant from the University of Oklahoma in 2005.  You can take his tutorial by going to “Members” on the “Thinking Outside of the Box” link on his website:  Or you can buy his Kindle book on creative thinking, Eating a Bear with its Own Teeth.


Lawrence W. Levine

Cornelia R. Levine started as a historian of 20th-century Germany with a focus on the Weimar Period, 1918–1933. She is co-author with her husband, Lawrence W. Levine, of The People and The President: America’s Conversation with FDR (Beacon Press 2002). The book places letters to Franklin Delano Roosevelt from ordinary Americans following his “fireside chats” in context with essays on the historical background surrounding each chat. The Fireside Conversations: America Responds to FDR During the Great Depression (UC Press 2010) is a paperback edition of the pre-war part of the original. She is currently editing the transcript of her husband’s oral history.


Bonda Lewis as Amelia Jenks Bloomer

Bonda Lewis, an actor and teacher of theater arts, has done extensive research in order to write and perform a series of one-person shows about historic figures Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Isabella Bird, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, and Sara Bard Field. Her latest production, The Powder Keg, is about army nurses from the from the Napoleonic Wars to World War Two. See her website, Performances Off the Shelf. She is also working on a historical fiction series for young readers starting with the Orphan Trains and continuing into the women’s suffrage movement.


Fanny Trollope

After growing up in Arizona, Celeste Lipow MacLeod earned Bachelor and Masters degrees from the University of California at Berkeley and did graduate work at Columbia University. She has traveled in Europe, Australia and Asia, with extended stays in India and Japan, and has lived in London, Copenhagen and Rome. She has published two books: Horatio Alger, Farewell, about working-class American migrants of the 1970s, and Multiethnic Australia. Her book in progress, A Woman of Unbearable Opinions: Fanny Trollope’s Singular Eye on Early America, highlights some national characteristics that Fanny Trollope (Anthony’s mother) saw in 1830, which have endured.

Lucia Mathews Self-Portrait, c. 1899

Lucia Mathews Self-Portrait, ca. 1899

With a BA and MFA from Mills College, Stephanie McCoy is the author of Brilliance in the Shadows: A Biography of Lucia Kleinhans Mathews (Arts and Crafts Press, 1998) and the novel Sweet as Cane (Pen and Mouse, 2012). Her second novel, The She-Novelist of Venice, based on the last years of the American writer Constance Fenimore Woolson, is forthcoming.


Agatha Christie

Jeanne Farr McDonnell is the author of Juana Briones of 19th Century California (University of Arizona Press, 2006). She worked for many years to preserve the Juana Briones adobe in Palo Alto, unsuccessfully, although the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the property to its “Most Endangered” list one year.  At present, she is co-authoring a book for the Palo Alto Historical Association about Mayfield, the original town that evolved into Palo Alto. She is also working on a book about Agatha Christie’s work and is serving as a co-historian of the Women’s Club of Palo Alto, preparing for a centennial in 2016.

mem-prof-Mellini_caricatureMellini caricaturePeter Mellini, Ph.D. Stanford, taught modern world history, modern European history, and the history of Journalism at Stanford, Sonoma State, and San Francisco State for 34 years. He is the author of two books: Sir Eldon Gorst: the Overshadowed Proconsul (1977) and In VANITY FAIR (1983) plus numerous articles and reviews on national symbols and the modern media, especially PUNCH. In the 1980s and 1990s he was a stringer at The Economist. In retirement he tutors history and indulges a passion for mystery fiction in books and television.  He was a founding member of the Institute.


Dr. Robert Semple

Peter G. Meyerhof is a practicing dentist with an interest in the history of California during the early to mid 19th century. He has written a comprehensive biography of Dr. Robert Semple, a California pioneer who contributed greatly to the American annexation of California. Portions of this work have been published in The Argonaut and the Colusa County Wagon Wheels. He has also carried out original research on other pioneers, the early history of printing in California, the Sonoma Mission, and the first theatre in California. He is currently researching the lives of several less well-known Californios of the 1830s and 1840s.

Caryatid, © Margaretta Mitchell

© Margaretta Mitchell

Margaretta K. Mitchell (“Gretta”) is a photographer, author and educator who exhibits her fine art photography nationally. She is the author of five books; two are contributions to the history of photography. Her photography was included in the book and traveling exhibition, A History of Women Photographers (1994). She is represented by Robert Tat Gallery in San Francisco and PHOTO Gallery in Oakland. In 2011 she created a short film, Fire Ruin Renewal, to commemorate the Oakland hills fire of October 1991. She does both traditional portrait photography and lower-cost digital portraits that are useful for websites and book jackets. She also produces books for private clients.  Website:

Mote-VikingSue Mote (B.A. in English, Harvard; MS in Community Development, U.C. Davis) is a freelance journalist and novelist. She wrote Hmong and American: Transition to a Strange Land (2004) and is currently writing a novel about Viking times in Western Norway. She notes: “I’m interested in knowledgeable input in the area of ‘experiential archaeology,’ in which practice and scholarship inform each other. Looking to breathe authentic immediacy into my writing . . . I learned a good deal by dueling with a savvy friend with wooden swords.”

Patrick Chauvel in Cambodia, 1973

Photojournalist Patrick Chauvel in Cambodia, 1973

Elizabeth Nakahara is a former freelance writer for The Washington Post‘s Style section. She also has written for the online magazine, The Digital Journalist. She currently is writing a book about  photojournalists who specialize in international, hard-news coverage, and how their role has evolved over the past four decades.


Boarman Diploma

Kathleen O’Connor is a certified archivist with more than 30 years of experience. She worked at the National Archives regional branch in San Bruno for 20 years. She acquired expertise in Native American records, US Naval history in the Bay Area and the Pacific, and federal agencies’ records generated in Hawaii. She has done presentations on the Pearl Harbor attack, the Amelia Earhart search, asbestos litigation, the Radiation Experimentation records search, and cryptographic activities in Hawaii before WWII. Since 2005, Kathleen has worked as an archives researcher and as a consultant on archives. She is currently an archivist working for two Bay Area Catholic religious women’s’ archives and one small liberal arts university. She has presented talks on these archives as well.

mem-prof-Offen-museumKaren Offen is a historian and independent scholar, affiliated with the Clayman Institute for Gender Research, Stanford University.  She is on the board of the International Committee on the Historical Sciences and previously served on boards of the  International Federation for Research in Women’s History and the virtual International Museum of Women (San Francisco), where she originated a women’s history blog, “Clio Talks Back.” Karen’s many publications include European Feminisms, 1700‑1950: A Political History (Stanford University Press, 1999; now available in French) and Globalizing Feminisms, 1789-1945 (Routledge 2010). Karen is finally completing her book on the “woman question” debate in modern France. Website:


“Compared To What?” Poster

Judith Offer (“Jody”) is a playwright who has done several plays about American, Californian, or Oakland history.  She is particularly interested in portraying various ethnic groups and events involving women’s issues.  For example, see the web site from her play called A Shirtwaist Tale, about the 1909 Shirtwaist Maker’s Strike,  Judith has also written a teachers’ workbook, California History Plays for Young People, available through the Book Handler in Bonita, Ca.  For more information see

PeetPhyllis Peet taught women’s studies and directed a women’s program at Monterey Peninsula College. She received her Ph.D. in art history at UCLA, specializing in American art and architecture. Her interests are women in history and art history, including fine prints and photography.

mem-prof-Pels-Hardscratch Jacquelin Pels (“Jackie”) earned her B.A. in journalism at UC Berkeley (30 years after high school) and is devoted to “real people’s history.” She was a copyeditor at the Contra Costa Times and S.F. Chronicle and now—as Hardscratch Press, named for a family codfishing station in the Aleutian Islands—edits and publishes books of memoir and community history. Her own books are Unga Island Girl [Ruth’s Book]; Cuando llegabas, nieto mío; Any Tonnage, Any Ocean, and Family After All: Alaska’s Jesse Lee Home (Vol. II, Seward, 1925-1965), which won the Alaska Historical Society’s “Contributions to Alaska History” award. Details at

Edith L. Piness (“Edee”) has a Ph.D. in history from the Claremont Graduate University. Her primary academic interest is in British policy and indigenous response in South and Southeast Asia. She has lectured, written and published in this field.  She was a member of the California Postsecondary Commission from 1978-1980 and of the California Student Aid Commission from 1980-1991, serving as Chair from 1984-1986. She has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Pitzer College for many years and has held board positions with the California Historical Society (President 1993-1996), California Missions Foundation, and San Francisco Museum and Historical Society.


Tilden Daken in his  studio, circa 1928

Bonnie Portnoy: Following a retail career in senior management positions with Joseph Magnin, Gump’s, Cost Plus World Market and Just Desserts, Bonnie launched the legacy project for noted early California plein air artist and adventurer, Tilden Daken (1876-1935), her grandfather.  The website,, features a representation of his art from more than 4000 works and a glimpse of his adventurous painting expeditions in the West during the early part of the 20th century. Portions of the in-progress biography of the artist have been published in recent issues of The Sonoma Historian, including stories of his adventures with his friend Jack London.

Reese-wiwh-logoLyn Reese (BA Mount Holyoke; MA Stanford University, history) began the task of integrating women’s history into the middle through high school World History curriculum in the 1970s. Besides conducting teacher workshops, consulting for textbooks, and publishing books, in 1990 she created the Women in World History Curriculum website, The site provides information about her fifteen document-based middle through high school history units, including “I Will Not Bow My Head: Documenting Women’s Resistance in World History” and “Spindle Stories: World History Units for the Middle Grades,” as well as book reviews, essays, and a variety of lessons for teacher use.

mem-prof-Robbins-Calabria_in_Italy.svgCatherine C. Robbins (“Cathy”) is a journalist and non-fiction author. Her most recent book All Indians Do Not Live in Teepees (or Casinos) was published in 2011 by Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press. The book, which is about contemporary American Indians, is now in its second printing. Robbins has also published numerous articles on a wide variety of subjects in press organizations such as High Country News, the Denver Post, The New York Times, and Her work-in-progress is Nobody Travels South of Rome: Finding Calabria. The book explores the contemporary life of Italy’s most southern―and least-known―region in its historical context.


Vladimir Dzhunkovsky

Richard Robbins (“Rob”) (Ph.D., history, Columbia University, 1970) taught Russian history at the University of New Mexico for 40 years.  His area of special interest is Russian imperial administration and administrators.  He has published three books: Famine in Russia, 1891-1892: The Imperial Government Responds to a Crisis (Columbia University Press, 1975); The Tsar’s Viceroys: Russian Provincial Governors in the Last Years of the Empire (Cornell University Press, 1987); and Overtaken by the Night: One Russian’s Journey through Peace, War, Revolution and Terror. It is a biography of Vladimir Dzhunkovsky, a high-ranking official whose life spans the revolutionary era from the “Great Reforms” of Tsar Alexander II to the “Great Terror” of Joseph Stalin.


Angel Island Immigration Station

Maria Sakovich (M.P.H.; M.A. History, Sonoma State University) is a public historian and independent scholar. She researches, writes, and develops exhibits in the areas of immigration, family, and community history. Her articles have appeared in anthologies, as well as Prologue and The ArgonautLa Nostra Storia–Italian Americans in Richmond grew out of the exhibit of the same title at the Richmond Museum of History. Her current work explores the migration of refugees from Russia after the 1917 revolution and civil war and their resettlement in California in the 1920s and 30s.


Leather case with 1840s documents, Glen Ellen Historical Society

Jim Shere was raised in Sonoma County and has a psychotherapy practice at Jack London Village, an historic settlement near Glen Ellen. He is the director of the Glen Ellen Historical Society and a board member of the Sonoma County Historical Society. Since 2010 he has been cataloguing the John Pierre and Myrtle Serres/Shirley Roberts Collection, artifacts and primary documents that accumulated on a ranch in the Valley of the Moon since the middle of the 19th century, when the ranch was still part of the original Agua Caliente Land Grant.  His personal website, with reports on parts of this collection, is


Kapuzinerberg, Salzberg postcard March 14, 1917

Carol Sicherman (BLitt, Oxford, 1962; PhD, English, University of Wisconsin, 1963) taught English and African literatures at Cornell and Lehman College for 37 years. She has published  books and articles in both literary fields, winning the Conover-Porter Award from the African Studies Association in 1992 for two reference works on Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Her most recent books were Becoming an African University (2005) and Rude Awakenings: An American Historian’s Encounters with Nazism, Communism and McCarthyism (2012). She is currently researching a collection of 96 postcards in German, Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew sent to family members in Eastern Europe in 1905-18.


Tilly Losch

Margaret Simmons, the daughter of late member Ann Marie Koller, is editing her mother’s manuscript on dancer Tilly Losch to be published by the University of Florida Press. She spent her youth in Paris where she married, had children, danced and went to college. She owned a little book bindery and an antiquarian store. She has taught English and French (and sometimes theater) all over the world including Korea, Cambodia, Japan, and Taiwan.

Jamila Sinlao is finishing a Ph.D. thesis in sociology at UC Santa Barbara on Catholic sisters in San Francisco, 1850-1925. Her MA thesis was “‘Money Can’t Buy You Class’: Cultural Capital, Etiquette and the White Wedding.” She recently published an article: “‘To the Ends of the Earth’: Catholic Sisters in Nineteenth Century San Francisco,” in U.S Catholic Historian (Vol. 31, no. 2, 25-49). 


Mare Island Naval Hospital

Thomas L. Snyder (“Tom”) is a retired surgeon and Naval officer who has followed earlier generations of retired physicians in writing medical history—but with a maritime tack. His first project is the Navy’s first west coast hospital, at Mare Island, northeast of San Francisco. Fellow historians induced him to found the Society for the History of Navy Medicine, a scholarly outfit that supports research, study and publication in the history of maritime medicine. Other projects include the Navy’s WW II V-12 accelerated medical education program and the 85+ WW II “phantom” Naval hospitals that sprang into existence “for the duration only.”


Edward Upward

Peter Stansky: I am a historian of modern Britain who has attempted in my research better to understand that country.  In most of my work, ranging from the end of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, I have attempted to do that in the area where society, politics, and culture meet such as in my publications on William Morris, the Bloomsbury Group and George Orwell.  That is also true in my latest project, a study of the comparatively unknown novelist, Edward Upward, a figure of the 1930s and beyond, a friend of W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, and for many years a devout Communist.


Sir Walter Raleigh

Charles Sullivan studied history, psychology and English literature at Swarthmore College. Later he earned a Ph.D. in organizational psychology from New York University, and held various teaching and administrative posts at Georgetown and other institutions. In recent years he has resumed the study of history, using primary sources at Oxford and elsewhere to develop a deeper understanding of the Elizabethan age of discovery. He is writing a book about Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh, and a group of lesser-known figures, based on research he presented at the London meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries in 2015.

Thacker-Abigail Fillmore

Abigail Fillmore

Elizabeth Lorelei Thacker-Estrada (“Liz”) (Master of Library and Information Studies, U.C. Berkeley) is the Merced Branch Library Manager in the San Francisco Public Library system.  She has published articles and chapters about First Ladies of the United States, and she is working on a biography of Abigail Powers Fillmore, who founded the White House Library.  In 2010, she spoke at the “Reading in the White House” symposium at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Louis Trager:  I’ve been a journalist since 1980 (Examiner 1985-97). I’m researching liberal U.S. interventionists in the middle third of the 20th century, concentrating on 1940-56. They included obscure organizers, cloak-and-dagger operators including Allen Dulles, and such other luminaries as Paul Douglas, Henry Luce, Reinhold Niebuhr, Drew Pearson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Stassen and Walter Winchell. They shaped the decades-long “Vital Center” consensus through extensive captive media, prominent pseudo-NGOs, and initiatives in both parties including Americans for Democratic Action. I’m starting with Arthur J. Goldsmith, a New York industrialist, financier, philanthropist and elite foreign-policy activist who became “the dragon of the Waldorf,” a bête noire to the far right.

trobits-mission-doloresMonika Trobits has lived in San Francisco for 30+ years and is a long-time walking tour docent, writer and historian. She established her tour company, San Francisco Journeys, in 2011 and developed a walking tour in conjunction with her book: Antebellum and Civil War San Francisco: A Western Theater for Northern & Southern Politics (2014). Her article, “Dashiell Hammett’s San Francisco in the 1920s” was published in the winter 2011 edition of the Argonaut. Monika earned a B.A. in political science/history from San Francisco State University. She’s an avid reader, film buff and very interested in local arts and culture.


Limestone Angel Head

Georgia Wright:  I am a medieval art historian and co-director of The Limestone Sculpture Provenance Project.  I recently produced my seventh video. In this my nephew and I take the parts of the Master Sculptor and the Dean of the Chapter discussing what should be carved for the façade of Amiens Cathedral. (See trailer on YouTube.) I find that, just as a camera moving through a church or cathedral gives the viewer a better sense of the spaces than slides, so a dramatic, and humorous, dialogue may set forth my “argument” better than an essay.


Member News

Welcome to our newest members, Gail Greene and Ernest Hook.

Steven Levi is working on his 8th book of creating thinking.  Using history as his guide, his work Off the Wall Thinking illustrates how off-the-wall ideas which were greeted with jeers when introduced have sometimes changed the world. Some of the ideas include toilet paper, braille, “creative equivocation” and other concepts.  This will be Levi’s 82nd book.  His next mystery novel, The Matter of the Dematerializing Armored Car, will be out in time for  Christmas.

Dot Brovarney is publishing a book this fall called The Sweet Life: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch. Besides editing the collection of stories and photographs, she has provided historical context to the book about a cherry ranch in the hills west of Ukiah. At the center of The Sweet Life stand longtime owners George and Ella Butler, who through their u-pick orchard and a generosity of spirit created a unique sense of community in Mendocino County for over sixty years.

With mention of a body of work including her newest book, Framed by Sea & Sky: Community Art in Seward, Mural Capital of Alaska, and noting that she “meticulously collects, records, and shares the stories of the people, history and culture of Seward through her research, presentations, and publications,” Jackie Pels (Hardscratch Press) has received the 2017 Historic Preservation Award in her hometown of Seward, Alaska. She says she is most pleased by that word “meticulously.”

Ann Harlow has been elected president of the Berkeley Historical Society and continues to serve as editor of its quarterly newsletter (as well as copy editor of our newsletter, the newsletters of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, and the magazine American Art Review).

Monika Trobits will be teaching her third course for San Francisco State’s OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute), beginning in late August. “‘San Francisco Urban Journeys’ will consist of 5 walking tours exploring the Embarcadero, the Haight, Civic Center, and Russian Hill. These journeys will begin at 10 a.m. the week of August 21, on either Monday or Wednesday (the course schedule is still being worked out). For more information and to register: (415) 817-4243 or” “Meanwhile,” she writes, “I continue to fine tune my second book for publication in late 2017 or early 2018. This one will trace the story of a commodity in the San Francisco Bay Area from the gold rush era to the present day.”

On June 24, the City of Sonoma unveiled a fullscale bronze statue of city-founder General Mariano Vallejo portrayed sitting on a bench in the central Plaza. Peter Meyerhof was one of the seven-member committee of citizens which planned all aspects of this monument, hired the skilled artist Jim Callahan to fabricate it, and raised the necessary funds entirely from private donations. This interactive creation was given to the city at a dedication ceremony attended by approximately 300 people. Because of General Vallejo’s historically invaluable memoirs, Peter made sure that he was depicted holding a book entitled Recuerdos.

Members:  Please submit news of your history-related publications, lectures, awards, research finds, etc. to