Digital Collections Unit
The Bancroft Library is pleased to announce the publication of the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive.
The Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Digital Archive is the result of a two-year grant generously funded by the National Park Service as part of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. The grant titled, “Voices in Confinement: A Digital Archive of Japanese American Internees”, includes approximately 150,000 original items including the personal papers of internees, correspondence, extensive photograph collections, maps, artworks and audiovisual materials.
Selected from Bancroft’s vast holdings, these rich and often requested collections were digitally captured as high-quality archival TIFFs for preservation. Access images were created as JPEG image files and text searchable PDF formats for optimal accessibility. The project website provides context to our comprehensive digital archive with pointers to collection guides on the Online Archive of California and curated searches of digitized objects on the Calisphere website.
The project builds upon a previous grant conducted between 2011-2014 to digitize 100,000 pages from the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study. Together, these collections form one of the premier sources of digital documentation on Japanese American Confinement found anywhere.
View the Japanese American Evacuation & Resettlement Digital Archive Website: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/jacs
This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
As another school year comes to a close, and the class of 2017 has walked through Sproul Plaza for the last time, now feels like the perfect opportunity to take a step back from the fury of finals and reflect. With the stresses of contemporary life – constant messages and emails to reply to, the morning commute, trying to precariously balance family and friends with work and play – it can be easy to get lost in a vortex of stress and responsibilities. But at times like these, when pressure becomes so prevalent, it is worth pausing to admire what surrounds us. Pardon the cliché, but it really is worth stopping to smell the flowers. So many of us pass through Sather Gate every day in a rush to get to class, but how often does one stop to truly appreciate the Gate, or the Campanile, or even just the lush greenery of the campus?
As a senior who has just graduated and is about to enter a new (and stressful!) phase of life, I thought it would be worth doing exactly that. In the quiet before the storm I decided that as one of my final blogs for the Bancroft, it might be nice to make a tribute to the campus, both for my sanity, and out of respect for the school that has been my home for the last four years. So in late spring, as the pressure mounted, I made my own effort to step back, further than most. Instead of admiring the campus merely in the here and now, I wanted to explore what had changed, and by the same token, what had stayed the same. The Bancroft houses the University Archives in which I found bits and pieces of what I was looking for. Photographs of the campus from as early as the 19th century. There were so many fantastic pictures in the collection – from a horse and carriage trotting along with South Hall, and her long forgotten sister North Hall, clearly visible in the background, to photos of a typewriter shop on Telegraph Avenue with old time 1950s cars parked out front. But I decided as a member of the class of 2017 that I would focus on the view of campus from a century ago, taken while the world was at war in 1917. After settling on this, I went out and retook some of the pictures we have from 1917 to find out exactly what had withered away and what had stayed in the hundred years since they were first taken.
I hope that in looking at these comparison shots, more people might be able to pause and collect their thoughts, even for just a few minutes, while reflecting on the beauty of the campus that we often take for granted. When we’re so caught up in the moment, taking notice of something like Sather Gate, which has stood in place for more than 100 years, might be our cue to relax. There are buildings and trees that have been here for generations. Manmade structures and nature alike have transcended time, and the Sather Gate I walk under today is the same one two little girls posed next to in 1917. Our campus is beautiful, and it is worth remembering that these buildings will outlast our stresses, just as they have for all the Berkeley alum and employees that have come before us.
UARC PIC 03 3.100
UARC PIC 03 3.125
If you are interested in more photos of the Berkeley campus over the past two centuries please visit the Reading Room at the Bancroft Library.
Images are from the University of California, Berkeley campus views collection: http://oskicat.berkeley.edu/record=b16284958~S1
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
From coast to coast, April 15, 1967, was a busy day for American anti-war protesters. Fifty years ago today, massive demonstrations filled the streets of New York and San Francisco as marchers denounced US involvement in Vietnam.
[Michelle Vignes photograph archive, BANC PIC 2003.108–NEG Box 19, Roll 1752, Frame 22, Bancroft Library]
The protests were organized by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, commonly referred to as “the Mobe,” which began in 1966 as a coalition of various groups opposed to the war. High profile names were among those who attended the marches, including Dr. Martin Luther King, who led the march in New York, and his wife Coretta King, who spoke to protesters at the counterpart demonstration in San Francisco. The Spring Mobilization protests were particularly noteworthy for the cooperation between civil rights and peace protesters in a greater effort to call for an end to the war.
The marches themselves were quite massive. In New York, upwards of 400,000 people joined the march which began in Central Park and was slated to end at the United Nations where speakers, including Dr. King, addressed the crowd. The demonstration in San Francisco, while smaller, still drew in between 75,000-100,000 protesters who walked from Second and Market Streets to Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park. There, demonstrators were similarly treated to speeches by Coretta King as well as actor Robert Vaughn.
In Central Park, before the East Coast march got underway, there was a mass burning of draft cards. Protesters claimed to have burned nearly 200 draft cards, although this number was never verified.
Though the protests were peaceful, there were a few notable skirmishes. In New York, some demonstrators were bombarded by eggs thrown out the windows of various apartments on Lexington Avenue. Others were struck by red paint launched outside of police barricades on the march route. In Times Square, fights also broke out between motorists stalled by heavy traffic and demonstrators taking part in the march.
In both cities, counter-demonstrators popped up to voice their support of the war. In New York, pro-war protesters carrying American flags and signs ran on the sidewalks beside the protesters and heckled them. In San Francisco, a group of about 50 war supporters brought up the rear of the march into Kezar Stadium, also carrying signs with slogans like “Support Our Men in Vietnam” and “Communism is Red Fascism.” The group circled the track amidst loud booing from the anti-war demonstrators until they were escorted out of the stadium.
Fifty years later America still prides itself on the First Amendment which protects our right to freely speak and assemble. This year has already proved a strong one for protest, making its mark with the Women’s March in January. The demonstration was a shot heard round the world, when half a million demonstrators marched on Washington, and another 100,000 filled the streets of Downtown Oakland. The size was roughly on par with the anti-war demonstrations of a half century ago. Considering our present day advancements with social media to help get the word out, this makes the numbers of those who showed up to voice their anti-war beliefs in 1967 all the more impressive. But despite the differences, what the similarities between these two huge movements prove is that the American tradition of protest is still vibrant, 50 years on.
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
One-hundred years ago today, on April 6, 1917, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 50 formally authorizing the United States’ declaration of war against Germany. As a direct result, the US joined its allies Britain, France, and Russia in the war to end all wars. More than 116,000 American soldiers would lose their lives in a war that many thought was Europe’s problem. The Battle of Argonne Forest alone would cost more than 26,000 American lives, making it the deadliest single battle in American history. The conflict would end up being the third bloodiest in US history, with only the Civil War and Second World War producing more military deaths.
World War One had ignited in a frenzy in the summer of 1914, but for almost three years the United States had managed to keep itself out of the Great War. That’s not to say that the US felt no impact from the conflict. The sinking of the British liner Lusitania by a German U-boat in May 1915, for example, resulted in the deaths of 128 American passengers onboard and tensed US-German relations.
Tensions were exacerbated in 1917 when Germany took several actions which further alienated the United States. In February 1917, Germany reinstated its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. Between February and March 1917, German U-boats sank one US liner and four American merchant vessels. To make matters worse, in February the British government presented President Woodrow Wilson with a decrypted German telegram which would come to be known as the Zimmerman telegram. The message, sent from German Foreign Minister Arthur Zimmermann to the German Minister to Mexico, offered Mexico a portion of US territory in exchange for joining the war on the German side. American public opinion turned dramatically against Germany when the telegram was published in the American press in March, and the US inched ever closer to war.
On April 6, America joined the fight against the Kaiser’s troops. But much was needed to fight a war. Soldiers, food, supplies, had to be acquired. To get Americans on board with the war effort the government produced a variety of propagandist war posters encouraging everything from the obvious signing up to join the armed forces, and buying war bonds, to urging women to join the Red Cross. Though the US homefront was not terribly affected by the conflict, some posters even encouraged women to plant Victory Gardens, almost as an eerie foretelling of what would come in the Second World War.
The Bancroft Library houses a collection of more than 170 American war posters from the First World War. Some of these posters have addresses for army recruiting stations in San Francisco and Oakland, a reminder that a piece of a worldwide conflict played out in our backyard.
View the digitized collection here: American war posters from the First World War [BANC PIC 2005.001]
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
Berkeley is known for its world-renowned professors. Just walking through the campus today you can spot parking spaces reserved for Nobel laureates. Of course, this is hardly a new phenomenon at Berkeley, which has had prominent faculty on its staff for decades. Perhaps one of the most distinguished members to grace the Berkeley faculty, and one with a fascinating history to boot, was a professor in the mathematics department named Alfred Tarski.
Alfred Tajtelbaum (who would later change his last name to the more Polish sounding Tarski) was born January 14, 1901 in Warsaw, Poland. He was born to Polish Jewish parents but would later convert to Roman Catholicism due to the discriminatory hiring practices of Polish universities in the interwar period.
In 1918, Tarski began his academic career, entering the University of Warsaw. He studied mathematics under prominent logicians and philosophers of the time. In 1924, Tarski graduated with a Ph.D., becoming the youngest person to obtain a doctorate from the University of Warsaw. Between 1924 and 1939, Tarski worked intermittent positions at the University of Warsaw, but mostly made a living by teaching math to secondary school students. This was actually a common practice in Europe prior to the Second World War as university positions tended to pay poorly. Meanwhile, as he taught the basics to teenagers, he wrote various papers and books, earning himself an international reputation as a mathematical logician and for his ideas on truth, which the current writer will not attempt to summarize here because they are well beyond her.
In 1939 Tarski was invited to attend the Unity of Science Congress in September, held at Harvard University. In August 1939, Tarski boarded a ship bound for the United States. It would be the last ship to leave Poland before Nazi forces invaded the country on September 1, igniting World War Two. He left behind a wife and two children in Warsaw who he would not see again until 1946.
Effectively exiled in the US, Tarski worked at various research institutions including Harvard, before settling on the world’s best research university: UC Berkeley. In 1942 he joined Berkeley’s mathematics department, and was eventually tenured in 1945 before being awarded a full professorship in 1948. In 1946 his wife and two children, who had all survived the devastation of the war, joined Tarski in California.
Tarski stayed on at Berkeley, helping to create an esteemed graduate program in logic, until 1968 when he retired, becoming a professor emeritus. However, he remained devoted to Berkeley and students even in retirement, continuing to teach until 1973, and supervising doctoral theses until his death in 1983.
Today the Bancroft Library maintains a collection of materials relating to Tarski’s tenure as a mathematician at UC Berkeley. Among them are personal documents of Tarski’s, from his Polish passport, to a dinner menu saved from his sailing voyage to the US in 1939.
Digital reproductions of selected items are available: Alfred Tarski papers (BANC MSS 84/69 c)
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
“We pray the God of mercy to deliver us from our present Calamity if it be his Holy will,” wrote Patrick Breen on New Year’s Day 1847. In the midst of a snow storm, with provisions running short and several members of his party already dead from starvation, Calamity was not an overstatement.
Breen was a member of the now infamous Donner Party. An Irish immigrant, he had set out with his wife and seven children to make their way westward from Illinois to the California sunshine. The Breens composed just one family in the group of 87 people to make the trek led by George Donner and James Reed. Only 48 would survive the ordeal.
The Donner Party set out from Springfield, Illinois in the spring of 1846, expecting to arrive in California by late summer. Their downfall, however, came with an idea from an Ohio lawyer named Lansford Hastings. Hastings was convinced he could come up with a faster route to California than the standard voyage which involved traversing Wyoming, the southern border of Idaho, and northern Nevada. He devised a cutoff that diverged from the typical route, sending the party south into Utah (rather than north into Idaho) and rejoining the original path in Nevada. The shortcut backfired as the voyage through Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and the Great Salt Lake desert expended more time and energy than originally planned. Many wagons, oxen, and livestock were lost in the Salt Flats, and by the time the Donner Party reached California in late October they were weeks behind schedule and running low on food and supplies.
Calamity struck the Donner Party while in the Sierra Nevadas. Stuck in the first blizzard of the season, the party was unable to continue the journey. The blizzard, unfortunately, was not a quick setback but the harbinger of a terrible winter to come.
Patrick Breen began recording in his diary on November 20, 1846. “It continueing [SIC] to snow all the time we were here we now have killed most part of our cattle having to stay here untill [SIC] next spring & live on poor beef without bread or salt,” wrote Breen. “Poor beef” would hardly seem such a terrible meal when a few weeks later the party had resorted to eating animal hides. The situation deteriorated even further, and as members of the party perished, Breen described how other members thought about, or claimed to have engaged in, cannibalism. When one woman mentioned that she was considering consuming a dead comrade out of desperation, Breen quite simply wrote “It is distressing.” Such bare simplicity perfectly describes the feeling one is faced with in reading the trials of the Donner Party.
On February 19, 1847 the first rescue party arrived bringing a few provisions. The relief team of men from California took with them 21 members of the party, but the Breen family was left behind. 170 years ago today, on March 1, 1847, Breen made the last entry in his diary which recounts the arrival of the second relief team. This second rescue team guided 14 people, including the Breen family, to safety in Sutter’s Fort, California. A third relief team later rescued all the remaining children of the Donner Party but was forced to leave behind five stragglers. By the time the fourth team arrived, only one man was still alive.
The history of the Donner Party and the epics detailed in Breen’s diary are a reminder of the lengths to which people once went to reach this golden state, and the sunny days we often take for granted.
The Bancroft Library maintains the original Breen diary and has digitized the journal.
View the collection: Patrick Breen Diary (BANC MSS C-E 176)
by Jacob Dickerman from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
76 years ago, on December 7, the Japanese military attacked Pearl Harbor military base. The next day, the United States declared war against Japan. Following the attacks and declaration of war, hostilities were high, as many Americans vilified and mistrusted their fellow Japanese American citizens. Of course, the vilification and mistrust were unfounded.
Two months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the “Munson Report,” an intelligence report commissioned by the State Department, concluded that there was no question of loyalty to the U.S. among the majority of Japanese Americans and that they posed no threat to the nation’s security. Despite such exculpatory reports and a lack of cause for suspicion or detainment, the FBI, as soon as December 7, 1941, began arresting Japanese American community leaders, totaling 1,291 arrests in just two days.
Today, this seems unfathomable, but hostility toward Japanese Americans had been a long-established and prominent issue, socially and politically. On October 11, 1906, the San Francisco–San Francisco–Board of Education passed a measure to segregate children of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean descent from the rest of the student population. (President Theodore Roosevelt called the measure “wicked absurdity.”) In 1908, Japan and the U.S. made a “Gentlemen’s Agreement” to end migration of Japanese laborers to the U.S. In 1913, California passed the Alien Land Law, prohibiting those ineligible for citizenship from owning (and, later, leasing) land; at the time, all Japanese immigrants were considered ineligible for citizenship.
As it turned out, the draconian laws against Japanese immigrants, who mainly labored in agriculture, were neither followed nor enforced too heavily. Unfortunately, the relative leniency drew resentment from labor unions, statewide, as the population of Japanese Americans steadily increased. This intensified the presence and influence of anti-immigrant interests and politicians in government, contributing to the height of tensions when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized military authorities to exclude civilians from any area, without trial or hearing. This was effectively aimed at Japanese Americans on the West Coast. In March of that year, the Wartime Civil Control Administration established the first Assembly Centers (detainment camps, or “concentration camps,” in FDR’s words), where they detained about 92,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The count would eventually increase to 120,000 persons, when the permanent camps were established by the War Relocation Authority, in May 1942.
In January of 1943, the War Department announced the formation of a segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers. Soon after, on February 1, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was activated at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. During seizures, arrests, and the unconstitutional detainment of tens of thousands of Japanese Americans, thousands were wounded, killed, or went missing in action while serving the nation in the 442nd RCT. Though President Obama awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Japanese-American World War II veterans, in 2010, the nation failed to express appreciation to the same Japanese Americans during the war.
A year after forming the 442nd RCT, the U.S. reversed its policy on excluding Japanese Americans from the draft and reinstated it, requiring men in the internment camps to serve. Hundreds refused to serve in the same military that oversaw the indefinite incarceration of their friends and families. Most of these men were imprisoned for resisting the draft. In 1947, President Truman pardoned 63 draft resisters imprisoned in 1944. The 63 were detainees at Heart Mountain, a concentration camp in Wyoming, who organized an effort to challenge the legality of their detainment by refusing to show for their physical examinations.
The last camp left, Tule Lake “Segregation Center,” closed on March 20, 1946. Though the Truman administration sent a friendlier message to Japanese Americans, the nation was slow to learn from the crimes committed against its own citizens. Only in 1980 did Congress formally begin to question the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, that which granted the military the liberty to take liberties away from other Americans.
Commenting on the possibility of the government’s legally detaining Americans without due process, the late Justice Antonin Scalia said, “You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing would not happen again.” The nation should prove him wrong.
The Bancroft Library maintains a collection of over 7000 photographs from the War Relocation Authority.
by Sonia Kahn from the Bancroft Digital Collections Unit.
Today the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, known to locals as just the Bay Bridge, is an essential part of many Bay Area commuters’ daily routine, but a mere 80 years ago the bridge many now take for granted as just one more part of their traffic-filled commute did not exist. On November 12, 2016, the Bay Bridge celebrated its 80th birthday, having officially opened to the public on that date in 1936. Today the Bay Bridge is oft overshadowed by its 6 month younger brother, the Golden Gate Bridge, as an iconic sign of San Francisco. But since the 1930s the Bay Bridge has played an essential role in bridging the gap between the East Bay and San Francisco.
It’s impossible. That was what many critics charged at those who explained they wanted to build a bridge across the San Francisco Bay. The idea to construct a bridge connecting Oakland to San Francisco had been around since the 1870s but saw no real progress until the administration of President Herbert Hoover, when the Reconstruction Finance Corporation agreed to purchase bonds to help fund construction which were to be paid back with tolls. But was building such a bridge really possible? In some places, the Bay was more than 100 feet deep, and on top of that, construction would have to take into consideration the threat of an earthquake. Interestingly, engineers planning for the bridge were more concerned with the threat brought about by high winds which could affect the bridge’s integrity.
Ground was broken for the bridge on July 9, 1933, and was welcomed with celebration. The United States Navy Band played at the event, and an air acrobatic left a trail of smoke between Oakland and Rincon Hill where the bridge would connect the East Bay to San Francisco. Celebration was well warranted. The feat of engineering was constructed in just three years, sixth months ahead of schedule! At a total cost of $77 million, the Bay Bridge was an engineering marvel which spanned more than 10,000 feet and was the longest bridge of its kind when it was completed.
On November 12, 1936 the Bay Bridge officially opened. Four days of celebration followed the grand opening but it was not long before the Bridge was overwhelmed. By the end of 1936, the Bay Bridge saw traffic beyond the figures predicted for a decade later. Low tolls on the Bridge saw many previous ferry users jumping ship to cross the expanse on the newly constructed bridge instead.
From its opening until 1952, cars were not the only passengers on the Bay Bridge. The two-decker bridge saw cars traveling in both directions up top while trains and trucks traveled in both directions on the lower deck. In 1952 trains were scrapped, and in 1958 the upper deck was reconfigured to handle five lanes of westbound traffic as the lower deck accepted passengers headed for Oakland.
Since the 1950s the Bay Bridge has seen many developments. HOV lanes were added for high-occupancy vehicles, and the 1970s saw a decrease and eventual elimination of tolls for these vehicles. A metering system to regulate vehicles entering the bridge was also added which reduced traffic accidents by 15%. In 1989, the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake caused a portion of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge’s eastern span to collapse, proving that the structure was still susceptible to particularly strong tremors despite its strong moorings. This led to retrofitting procedures on the bridge. Most recently a new eastern span was built and was opened to the public in September 2013 after a decade of construction.
Today the Bay Bridge sees more than 102 million vehicles a year cross its decks, more than 11 times the number it carried in its first year. So perhaps next time you cross the Bay Bridge take a minute to appreciate the 80-year-old engineering marvel that makes crossing the Bay a breeze-if you don’t get stuck in the Bay Area traffic!
The Bancroft Library maintains a collection of over 1,100 photographs from the construction of the Bay Bridge.
This post comes from Sonia Kahn, one of our student employees who has been digging into some of our favorite digital collections. Today we discuss voting!
With the possibility of a female president now a real possibility, it’s hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago, all women did not have the right to vote in the United States. Many students across the nation now memorize the infamous 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, as granting American women the right to vote. But in fact many women to the west of the Mississippi had gained the right to vote long before their East Coast sisters joined them in 1920. At the beginning of 1920, women had already achieved full equality in suffrage in 15 states, and partial suffrage in another 20, leaving only 12 states where women were completely left out of the voting process. Indeed, here in California, women have had the right to vote since 1911, when the Golden State joined a total of five other Western states in granting women the full right to vote in all elections.
California was not the first state to give women the right to vote. That title belongs to Wyoming, which granted full suffrage to its citizens in 1869 while still a territory. Wyoming was followed by the likes of Utah, Colorado, and Idaho, all giving women the right to vote in the 19th century. California had also attempted to pass equal suffrage before the turn of the century but the motion failed. Today the Bay Area is considered a progressive stronghold but in 1896 it was actually San Francisco and Alameda counties that crippled the suffrage attempt that year. Strong business interests, particularly the producers and sellers of alcohol, virulently opposed female suffrage, convinced that women with their conservative mindsets would vote for prohibition. All hope was not lost, however, and Californian suffragettes and their allies would try again 15 years later.
With the memory of defeat ever present, California suffragettes implemented a new strategy when the topic of equal suffrage came up for a vote once more. Recalling that business had a strong hold on the state’s major cities, supporters of equal suffrage targeted voters in rural and southern California. To get the word out they used traditional tactics such as handing out more than 90,000 “Votes for Women” buttons and distributing three million pieces of promotional literature across southern California alone. But the suffragettes did more than put up posters and hand out buttons. They also pasted their message on billboards and often used electric signs, relaying their message with a spark.
October 10, 1911, was the day of reckoning in which allies of equal suffrage would see if their efforts bore fruit. Again both San Francisco and Alameda counties voted down the measure, and suffrage passed by just a hair in Los Angeles, to the dismay of many suffragettes. But all was not lost, and the tide began to turn as votes from California’s rural districts were tallied. When the final tally was made, equal suffrage had just barely come out on top with a miraculously small margin of just 3,587 votes, out of a total 246,487 ballots cast.
Today in California 73% of eligible adults are registered to vote, but just 43% of those adults turned out for the November 2014 election, a record low. This is a significant decrease from 2012 in which 72% of registered voters turned out to the polls.
One-hundred five years ago, fewer than 4,000 people were pivotal in changing the course of California history. Had they not voted, women in California might have had to wait another nine years to have their voices heard. To the women in California in 1911, a handful of votes were essential in advancing civil rights for thousands, proving that your vote truly does matter.
Check out the collection here: https://calisphere.org/collections/11601/
Today’s blog post comes to us from Sonia Kahn, one of the student employees in the Digital Collections Unit. Sonia has been digging into some of our favorite digital collections and writing posts to highlight some of the fabulous digitized material from the Bancroft collections.
With Halloween just around the corner, many of us have chocolate on our mind, and some of you may have already dipped into the sugary arsenal meant for potential trick or treaters. But having a sweet tooth isn’t a seasonal event and many of us crave chocolate year-round, especially here in the Bay Area, where tourists from all over the world flock to Ghirardelli Square to sample the offerings of one of San Francisco’s most famous companies.
But the Ghirardelli chocolate company’s history stretches back much farther than the 1964 opening of now iconic Ghirardelli Square. Did you know that the Bancroft Library is home to a Ghirardelli company photo album that contains 56 photographs of the chocolate making process? This short and sweet collection includes photos dating from 1882 to the early 1920s.
The Ghirardelli company’s story began in 1849, when Italian immigrant Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli, hoping to prosper from the excitement over the California Gold Rush, set sail for California and established a general store in Stockton to serve the local miners. In 1852, Ghirardelli opened a confectionary store in San Francisco, and by 1893 success led the company to purchase a building and move manufacturing to the current site of Ghirardelli Square. In 1923, the brightly illuminated Ghirardelli sign, which still shines today and has become synonymous with San Francisco, was revealed to the world.
In the 1960s, manufacturing was once again relocated, this time just slightly southeast of San Francisco to San Leandro. The old manufacturing site was purchased by a couple of affluent San Franciscans who worried that Ghirardelli Square might be torn down in the midst of urban redevelopment. In November 1964, Ghirardelli Square was reopened as the dining and retail site it is today, and in 1982 the site received National Historic Register status to ensure its preservation for the future.
In 2012 the Ghirardelli company celebrated its 160th anniversary, and today Ghirardelli Square continues to beckon to tourists and locals alike with its tantalizing sweets. The history of the Ghirardelli company is just one of the many collections on California’s cultural heritage that the Bancroft is working to preserve.
Check out the collection here: https://calisphere.org/collections/8416/