Past Events 2023

An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873

Monday, March 20, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| Online Presentation via Zoom

An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, by Benjamin Madley, is the first full account of the government sanctioned genocide of California Indians under United States rule. It has been widely praised as groundbreaking, raising fundamental questions about how Californians and Americans think of themselves and their history.

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Madley is the first to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, the taxpayer dollars that supported it, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive history of an American genocide.

Madley describes pre contact California and precursors to the genocide before explaining how the Gold Rush stirred vigilante violence against California Indians. He narrates the rise of a state sanctioned killing machine and the broad societal, judicial, and political support for genocide. Many participated: vigilantes, volunteer state militiamen, U.S. Army soldiers, U.S. congressmen, California governors, and others. The state and federal governments spent at least $1,700,000 on campaigns against California Indians. Besides evaluating government officials’ culpability, Madley considers why the slaughter constituted genocide and how other possible genocides within and beyond the Americas might be investigated using the methods presented in this groundbreaking book.

A virtual presentation by Benjamin Madley, author and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California, Los Angeles.

Before Baedeker: Travel Guidebooks to 1840

Monday, March 13, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person and Virtual Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

The late 19th century has been labelled the “Baedeker Era” after the famous series of compact, bright-red travel guides published simultaneously in German, English, and French. The Baedeker guides’ trademark characteristics – systematic, impersonal, regularly updated, in a portable format packed with practical information and complementary maps – have served as a template for all subsequent guidebooks up to the present day.

But how did this specialty format develop? In a talk based on original research drawn from his personal collection spanning 1600 to 1840, Bill Newlin will trace the evolution of early travel guides, beginning with itineraries of Italy and France written by and for tutors escorting young noblemen on the Grand Tour.

Topics will include Laurence Sterne’s beguiling satire of travel guidebooks in Tristram Shandy; a series aimed the emerging middle class launched by a British naval officer veteran of the Seven Years’ War; the 25-year interregnum under Napoleon when a German aristocrat publishing in French produced a masterwork that was blatantly plagiarized by two rapacious Parisian publishers in succession; the explosion of new travel guidebooks in English spurred by the return of British tourism to the continent after the Battle of Waterloo; and the emergence in the 1820s of arguably the first professional travel writer, the redoubtable Marianna Starke.

An illustrated talk by Bill Newlin, publisher and collector of travel guides.

Bar Keeps: A Collection of California’s Best Cocktail Napkins

Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

Pasadena Heritage | The Blinn House | 160 N Oakland | Pasadena, CA 91101

Join author and napkin collector Patrick Quinn and designer J. Eric Lynxwiler for a fabulous tour of cocktail culture in the Golden State as they discuss their book Bar Keeps.

Do you know how the cocktail got its name? Ever wonder why pink elephants symbolize a pixelated good time? Or have you asked yourself why napkins pictured women rolling naked in champagne glasses? Our presenters will answer those and other startling questions and provide a look at how bars and cocktail napkins bonded.

Not into drinking? Lots of people aren’t, but who doesn’t want a visual treat, a good laugh, and a look back at the Golden State in its golden age? Quinn guides a rollicking road trip with stops in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Bakersfield, and points between—all with cocktail napkins to savor.

If you’ve had a tropical extravaganza at Trader Vic’s in Oakland, watched the dancers at the Chinese Sky Room in San Francisco’s Chinatown, downed a G&T at Joe DiMaggio’s Grotto on Fisherman’s Wharf, sat with stars at the Hollywood Palladium, had a hot toddy at Fred Harvey’s in LA’s Union Station, or just swooned to Rudy de la Mor singing at Little Shrimp in Laguna—the glow of riotous evenings will all come back to you as the author and designer discuss Bar Keeps.

An in-person presentation by Patrick Quinn, production designer, author, and collector, and J. Eric Lynxwiler, author and designer.

Cover Treasure — The Life and Art of Margaret Armstrong

Monday, February 27, 2023, 5-6:15 PM (Pacific)
| Online Presentation via Zoom

Lowell Thing, author of “Cover Treasure – The Life and Art of Margaret Armstrong,” describes how, beginning on the lawn of a library book sale, he began to discover and collect books from the “Golden Age” of American trade publishers’ decorated cloth bindings (1890-1915), especially those of one of its best-known artists. Over the next forty years, he was able to assemble almost all of Margaret Armstrong’s known designs and some that were unknown by the artist’s first discoverers, Charles Gullans and John Espey. In this talk, Lowell Thing shows highlights of his collection as well as previously unpublished photos of the artist and her family.

An illustrated talk by Lowell Thing, author and collector.

Terrible! Thrilling! True! Collecting the Books, Brochures & Ephemera of the Donner Party

Wednesday, February 8, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

The Philosophical Research Society | 3910 Los Feliz Blvd | Los Angeles, CA 90027

In the history of Westward Expansion, the Donner Party stands alone. Their story has been the inspiration for a bounty of books and pamphlets, both serious and some not so much. The literary history of the Donner Party runs the gamut from histories, biographies, fiction, epic poems, plays and even a cookbook!

After more than fifty years of collecting all things Donner Party, amateur historian and author Jim Hier joins us to share items from his collection and discuss the literary legacy of the Donner Party.

An illustrated talk by Jim Hier, historian and author.

Print Your Own Broadside Affair

Monday, February 6, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person Event

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

Letterpress print your own broadside on the Book Club’s Columbian hand press with Li Jiang, Lemoncheese Press. A limited number of broadsides will be printed.

From the Printed Work of Jo Mora

Monday, January 30, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| Exhibition Opening and In-Person Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

The creative career of Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora (1876-1947) was both compelling and diverse. In addition to being a painter, muralist, sculptor, building designer, cartographer, actor, set designer, cowboy, and husband and father, Mora was very involved with work on paper. It is his work as an illustrator, cartoonist, printer, and author that so closely parallels the work of the Book Club of California.

Mora’s art work sprang from his interests in numerous subjects including Native Americans and cowboys, the American landscape, California history and its missions, the classics of Chaucer, and Mora’s love of animals. All of these subjects, including the Christmas holiday, found expression in his work and his lasting creative efforts can be seen throughout California and the West.

Exhibition opening and remarks by Peter Hiller, author, historian, and Jo Mora Collection Curator for the Monterey History and Art Association.

The Koran in English – From Yusuf Ali to Sandow Birk

Monday, January 23, 2023, 5-6:15 PM (Pacific)
| Online Presentation via Zoom

For millions of Muslims, the Qur’an is sacred only in the original Arabic. Revealed to an Arab merchant Muhammad in 7th century Arabia, it calls itself “an Arabic Qur’an”. At once lyrical and adamantine, it resists translation into any other language. Yet scholars have tried to cross the barrier, rendering it into numerous classical and modern languages, including English.

The most adventuresome 20th century translator, Yusuf ‘Ali, a British civil servant in India, even strove to make English itself an Islamic language, while a recent American voyager—at once surfer and artist—Sandow Birk created an American Qur’an in the 21st century, post 9/11.

In this talk, Bruce Bennett Lawrence will connect to many translators but he especially prizes the link between Yusuf Ali and Sandow Birk. While Yusuf Ali wants to make English an Islamic language, Sandow Birk hopes to make the Koran an American text/resource, a compass for post-9/11 Americans.

A virtual presentation by Bruce Bennett Lawrence, author, Marcus Family Humanities Professor of Religion Emeritus, Duke University, and adjunct professor at the Alliance of Civilizations Institute, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul.

Googie Modern: Architectural Drawings of Armet Davis Newlove

Wednesday, January 11, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

The Blinn House | 160 N Oakland Avenue | Pasadena, California 91101

In Googie Modern: Architectural Drawings of Armet Davis Newlove, authors Michael Murphy and Alan Hess take readers inside the private archives of the forward-thinking trio dubbed the “fathers of Googie.” Inspiring not just artists and filmmakers but the public at large, their futuristic coffee shops and restaurants made dining out a space-age experience, just as man was ready to walk on the moon. Armet Davis Newlove’s architecture captured the optimistic and forward-thinking mood in post-war America and set the bar for what would become Mid-Century Modern style. The firm’s high-concept designs shaped Southern California and then took off across the American landscape, giving the US innovative, practical, and gorgeous monuments of everyday life. Each remarkable rendering demonstrates the passion and precision that went into every Armet Davis Newlove creation. Googie Modern is itself a monument to the excitement and optimism that once lined the streets of mid-century America.

An in-person presentation by Michael Murphy, author, art director, and design professional, and Alan Hess, architect, author, and historian.

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