2019 Oscar Lewis Awards

The Book Club of California congratulates the recipients of the 2019 Oscar Lewis Awards:

Fred and Barbara Voltmer
Oscar Lewis Award for the Book Arts

Fred and Barbara Voltmer are a well-known resource in the world of San Francisco Bay Area letterpress printing. Together they operate the Havilah Press in Emeryville, CA, where they have completed many fine printing projects of original and facsimile material in limited editions.

Some of their publications include:

  • A Letter from a Daughter to her Mother by Alice I. Van Schaack with an introduction by James B. Snyder
  • A Guide to the Grand and Sublime Scenery of the Sierra Nevada, a joint publication with the Bancroft Library
  • Earth Begotten: The Journey of Elua by Jacqueline Carey
  • Pochoir: Illustration and Technique with facsimile illustrations and translations from Jean Saudé’s manual and a progressive suite
  • Specimens: Decorative Initials from the type inventory of Havilah Press

Havilah Press uses traditional letterpress equipment – Columbian and Albion presses, lead type, metal and wood engravings and polymer plates. Most of their books are designed, edited, printed and bound in house.

Fred, with his knowledge of presses and printing, has answered the call to help individuals and institutions with the repair and restoration of printing equipment. He was responsible for making the BCC Columbian operational and Barbara started the handpress broadside program at the Club.

Dr. Rose Marie Beebe and Dr. Robert Senkewicz
Oscar Lewis Award for Western History

Dr. Rose Marie Beebe and Dr. Robert Senkewicz have written a monumental biography of Junípero Serra, one of California’s most influential and controversial figures—both in his own time and today. At a time when Serra’s life is being re-assessed in the context of our contemporary values, Beebe and Senkewicz bring clarity to his zealous religious motivations and his contentious conduct toward Native Americans.

Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary, published by the University of Oklahoma Press, presents Serra as neither a saint nor a villain, but rather as a complex man driven to implant Christianity and the Spanish crown among the indigenous people of the American West. This vividly illustrated volume is bolstered by new translations of Serra’s letters and sermons by Dr. Beebe, a professor of Spanish literature at Santa Clara University. Her husband, Dr. Senkewicz, a professor of history at Santa Clara University, drew on his long years of scholarship in the field of mission studies to produce a nuanced, definitive account of Serra’s life.

Together, Dr. Beebe and Dr. Senkewicz have produced six scholarly books on early California. These include Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, and Testimonios: Early California Through the Eyes of Women, 1815-1848. Their work is a far-reaching contribution to our understanding of California’s past and its present.


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:

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:

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)

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