2021 Oscar Lewis Awards

The Book Club of California congratulates the recipients of the 2021 Oscar Lewis Awards:

Oscar Lewis Award for the Book Arts

Wesley B. Tanner is a fine printer, artist, and book designer, in the long and distinguished line of autodidactic scholar-printers found in California, such as his mentors, John C. Tarr and Roger Levenson. Going on to mentor others, including Alistair Johnston and Jerry Reddan, he partnered with Will Powers to print Fine Print as well as the Book Club of California’s Quarterly News-Letter.

Printing has been a family tradition since G.A. Tanner and his two brothers opened a shop and a newspaper in 1870s Toledo. (Though family lore has it that Jacob Thanner was the first printer in our line, dating back to 1498 in Leipzig.) Wesley has been a letterpress printer since wandering into a printing class in junior high school in 1960. Three years later he entered the trade at 16 years old after landing a job at Press Baza, one of the early California Beat poetry presses.

Coming to the San Francisco Bay Area from his native Los Angeles to study letterpress printing at Laney College, he found tutelage in the Rare Book Room at UC Berkeley from Mrs. Leslie S. Clarke, and then from a long friendship with James D. Hart and the staff of the Bancroft Library. With cohorts among the Bay Area writers and poets of his time, such as Joanne Kyger and Michael McClure, he maintained a printing office on Ninth Street in West Berkeley, where he produced work of extraordinary quality.

At the Arif Press, founded in 1971, Tanner has published numerous books of poetry and fine art. His work has been extensively exhibited in libraries and has won numerous awards. In 2013 and 2017, two of his book designs were featured in the American Institute of Graphic Art’s “50 Books/50 Covers” shows.

Tanner has maintained his ties to California even when residing in the Midwest and now the East. He has been an active member of the Book Club of California and as a printer-member of the Roxburghe Club.



Oscar Lewis Award for Western History

Charles Fracchia (1937-2021) was an historian and longtime member of the Book Club of California, having served as vice president and as a member of several committees. He was notified of this award prior to his passing on July 21, 2021.

As an author and an educator, he chronicled the arc of San Francisco history from the Gold Rush to the present. Along the way he managed both to create and preserve history, including writing five scholarly books on the history of California and San Francisco, co-founding Rolling Stone magazine, and founding the San Francisco Historical Society in 1988. He was instrumental in preserving the history of the West by serving as one of the earliest advocates for the transfer of the historic Old Mint from federal ownership to the City and County of San Francisco.

Two of Fracchia’s books, Fire & Gold and When the Water Came Up to Montgomery Street, deserve special notice as well researched and engaging works on San Francisco, making significant contributions to the history of the West. In all, Fracchia authored fifteen published books, most recently Palimpsest: A Man’s Life in San Francisco. The novel is a “going to age” (as opposed to a “coming of age”) work of fiction. It deals with the life of a man in late middle age who seeks to re-establish the vibrancy of his youthful years, dealing with issues of sexual potency, work, relationships, and other concerns that mark advancing age. He spoke about this work at the Book Club in April 2019.

In addition, he conceived the idea for the creation of a high-quality periodical (The Argonaut) to publish significant articles on the history of San Francisco. Fracchia has made several contributions to the Book Club of California’s Quarterly News-Letter over the years and has had several articles published in the California Historical Society’s Quarterly, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Christian Science Monitor, and other journals and periodicals. In addition to his published books, he has written articles and books reviews too numerous to mention.

Fracchia spent the first 25 years of his career in investment banking and then more than 30 years as an academic. Fracchia taught San Francisco and California history at City College of San Francisco and at the Fromm Institute at the University of San Francisco. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Francisco, and three master’s degrees, in history (San Francisco State), library science (UC Berkeley) and theology (Graduate Theological Union). He has been a featured speaker at the Commonwealth Club of California. He was a longstanding member of the Roxburghe Club of San Francisco.


The Oscar Lewis Awards
were established by the Book Club of California in 1994 in honor of Oscar Lewis (1893-1992), San Francisco author, historian, and club secretary from 1921-1946.

Past recipients of the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History:

John Briscoe (2020)
Dr. Rose Marie Beebe and Dr. Robert Senkewicz (2019)
Brewster Kahle (2018)
Robert Bringhurst (2017)
James Karman (2016)
Dr. Gray Brechin (2015)
Rebecca Solnit (2014)
W. Michael Mathes (2012)
Philip P. Choy (2011)
Thomas Pinney (2010)
Robert J. Chandler (2009)
Malcolm Margolin (2008)
Carl Nolte (2007)
Robert V. Hine (2006)
David F. Myrick (2005)
Robert G. Harlan (2004)
Kevin Starr (2003)
Ferol Egan (2002)
Muir Dawson (2001) and Glen Dawson (2001)
J. S. Holliday (2000), Msgr. Francis J. Weber (2000)
Allan R. Ottley (1999)
Gary F. Kurutz (1998)
Richard H. Dillon (1997)
Lawrence Clark Powell (1996)
Doyce B. Nunis, Jr., (1996)
Michael Harrison (1995)
Dr. Albert Shumate (1994)

Past recipients of the Oscar Lewis Award for the Book Arts:

Mary Austin & Kathleen Burch (2020)
Fred and Barbara Voltmer (2019)
Betsy Davids (2018)
Kitty Maryatt (2017)
Richard Wagener (2016)
Harry & Sandra Reese (2015)
Johanna Drucker (2014)
Carolee Campbell (2013)
Jonathan Clark (2012)
Clifford Burke (2011)
Charles Hobson (2010)
Graham Mackintosh (2009)
David Lance Goines (2008)
Patrick W. Reagh (2007)
Peter Rutledge Koch (2006)
Joseph J. D’Ambrosio (2005)
Eleanore Edwards Ramsey (2004)
Joanne Margarethe Sonnichsen (2003)
Carolyn and James Robertson (2002)
Wolfgang Lederer (2001)
Andrew Hoyem (2000)
Jack W. Stauffacher (1999)
S. Gale Herrick (1998)
Sandra Kirshenbaum (1998)
Marjorie G. Stern (1997)
Lewis and Dorothy Allen (1996)
Albert Sperisen (1995)
Stella Patri (1995)
Ward Ritchie (1994)

Napa Valley web design and development