The Art of the Label

Ever looked at the sides of the boxes of fruit or wine in the grocery store as they're restocking the shelves? Did you notice the small stamped labels on the side? I never did—I never even gave those labels a moment's notice—until I began researching and putting together an exhibit on fruit crate labels currently on . . . → Read More: The Art of the Label

Sex and the Gold Rush in San Joaquin County

What comes to your mind when you think about California's Gold Rush? Do you see yellow specks in the sand? Frenzied miners? Lawlessness? How about unattached women who practiced the oldest profession on earth? Knowledge about the presence of prostitutes in the gold fields is nothing new. But not until recently did I come across evidence . . . → Read More: Sex and the Gold Rush in San Joaquin County

San Joaquin County’s “Italian Windmills”

Museums are like icebergs—only a small portion of most museums' collections are visible to the public. The bulk remains "underwater," stored for future exhibits and preserved for the benefit of future generations. And sometimes fascinating artifacts are visible, but under-appreciated.

Davis-type windmill adapted for domestic use, D. M. Drais farm, Farmington, Calif.

Such is the case with . . . → Read More: San Joaquin County’s “Italian Windmills”

Explosive Films

Chances are, you may not recognize the objects in the photograph below. It's highly unlikely that you know the story behind them, either. But I can almost guarantee that you will never forget either the images or the story after you read the next few paragraphs.

I've worked at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum for about . . . → Read More: Explosive Films

Chin Lung and the Great Western Potato Mart

The story of George Shima, the Japanese immigrant who became known as the "Potato King" of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, is fairly well known. But did you know there was an earlier, Chinese immigrant also known as a "Potato King?" Here’s the story of Chin Lung.

Unidentified Asian laborer with sacked potatoes, Woodward Island, ca. 1928

At . . . → Read More: Chin Lung and the Great Western Potato Mart

Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 3

There are two remaining stereotypes that I’d like to address. First, that the Indians from San Joaquin County area were nothing special.

It is remarkable enough that the ancestors of the Native people from what is now San Joaquin County settled this area perhaps thirteen thousand years ago and developed lifeways suited to a new and changing . . . → Read More: Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 3

Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 2

American educators and the mainstream media have depicted the Native peoples of California—especially in the Central Valley—as passive, weak, and disinclined to defend their homelands. Americans tend to put the warrior Indians of the Great Plains on a pedestal, even though their cultures developed after Europeans reintroduced the horse to the New World. California Indians had . . . → Read More: Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 2

Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 1

”I encourage students to pursue an idea far enough so they can see what the…stereotypes are. Only then do they begin to hit pay dirt.” (Robert Morgan)

I began my career as a seasonal worker at Caswell Memorial State Park, in southern San Joaquin County. Preparing for campfire programs, I soon realized that what I had been . . . → Read More: Stereotypes of Native People in San Joaquin County, Part 1

Museums, Libraries, and Air Conditioning

Have you ever smelled a strange musty smell after walking into a library filled with old books? That may be the smell of decay. Over time, paper can fall apart under attack by fungus, mold, and chemical breakdown, not to mention insects and other destructive creatures. Many three-dimensional museum objects face the same or similar enemies. . . . → Read More: Museums, Libraries, and Air Conditioning

The Bataan Relief Organization

It’s hard for me to imagine memories of World War II fading. My father served as an army medic in Europe during the War and survived the Battle of the Bulge. As a kid, I poured over the photographs he brought home and listened eagerly to his wartime stories.

Unfortunately, members of Dad’s generation are slipping away . . . → Read More: The Bataan Relief Organization