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Berkeley Historical Society Summer Talks and Events

Join us for any or all of four talks from experts on aspects of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) or 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) to accompany our ongoing exhibit, “Berkeley Goes To the Fair.” Also included is a "uniquely Berkeley" fifth talk by Doris Moskowitz about her illustrious father, Moe Moskowitz. All talks are free, but advanced sign up is required now because seating is very limited. Mail in the reservation form sent with the flyer and newsletter, or leave a phone message at the Center, (510) 848-0181.

All events at the Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center Street:  2:00 pm to roughly 4:00 pm. There will be time for exhibit viewing, questions and answers with the speakers, and book buying / signings after the talks.

Sunday, July 12, 2015  - 2 PM


Architectural historian Laura Ackley is the author of the recently published San Francisco’s Jewel City: The Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, which recently won a gold medal at the California Book Awards.  She holds graduate degrees in Architecture from Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, where she wrote her Master’s thesis on the lighting effects of the PPIE.   Her illustrated talk will take us on a "whirlwind tour" of the PPIE from original concept in 1904 through development, to the gala opening in February 1915, including a look inside the gorgeous exhibit "Palaces" as well as the attractions of the "Joy Zone," the PPIE's midway. Copies of her opulent book—co-published by Heyday Press and the California Historical Society—will be available for purchase and signing after her talk.

 Sunday, July 26, 2015  - 2 PM

 Moe Moskowitz: Radical Politics—Radical Theater—Radical Bookselling – Doris Moskowitz

 A History of Moe Moskowitz: A Life of Contradiction and Stardust –Doris Moskowitz, Moe’s youngest daughter, born on his birthday in 1966, will give a talk about her illustrious father, Moe Moskowitz. 

 Truthfully,” she says, “it will be a pleasure to talk about Moe. I think about him all the time. We celebrate him, his strengths and his foibles, everyday at his bookstore.” Please join her and reminisce for a while about a guy with a big enough ego to put his own face on a dollar bill. 

 Perhaps you knew this Beatnik father to a generation? Perhaps you were young in the 1960s when he held court at his counter, sharing jokes and politics, opinions, both warm and offensive. Maybe you have wondered how it happened that he arrived in Berkeley to open his monumental bookstore. Maybe you wonder why the San Francisco Chronicle said, “India has the Taj Mahal. Berkeley has Moe’s.”

 Doris will attempt to answer all these questions and to lay out a narrative of his life. He could be offensive, embarrassing, anarchistic and to some people, filthy, but he seemed to be full of “stardust,” like a movie star.

 Doris will also perform a few early jazz standards that Moe loved with local favorite John Schott of the Actual Trio.

 Sunday, August 2, 2015 – 2 PM


Andrew Shanken is Associate Professor of Architecture at UC Berkeley, and an architectural and urban historian interested in how “cultural constructions of memory shape the built environment”.  His most recent book is 
Into the Void Pacific: Building the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair (UC Press).   His talk will address the way Californians perceived the Pacific world of mid-century and interpreted it at the GGIE on Treasure Island.

Sunday, August 16, 2015 – 2 PM

“Fiction at the Fairs” – featuring mystery writer Kelli Stanley

The main event will be local mystery writer Kelli Stanley discussing and reading from her three murder mysteries, where bodies pile up behind the scenes on the GGIE's Treasure Island and in pre-War San Francisco’s underworld.  Unconventional detective Miranda Corbie has to sort out the mess.   The GGIE’s Gayway amusement zone never seemed so dangerous!

 In addition, exhibit curator Steven Finacom will give a brief overview of some of the amusing novels written for and about San Francisco's expositions. Boy Scouts prepared to save the day, pithy rural philosophers commenting on the sophisticated Big City, and innocent young ladies looking for love in all the wrong places are among the characters that populate these fictional works set at the real local fairs.

Sunday, August 30, 2015  - 2 PM

“Two Views of the GGIE – Art, Artifacts, and Science”

In one event, two experts will explain and explore some of the art and scientific exhibits that were staged at Treasure Island.   

Native American Art at the San Francisco World’s Fair, 1939-40 – Ira Jacknis

The GGIE included an exhibit by the Indian Arts and Craft Board, along with two displays on Native American art and Northwest Coast Native American artifacts and culture.   Jacknis, Research Anthropologist at the Hearst Museum of Anthropology, will discuss the exhibits and how they fit in with changing views of Native American culture and the GGIE’s official theme of peoples of the Pacific Rim, and will also touch on the involvement of UC faculty in art and anthropology at the GGIE.   

The Art of William Gordon Huff and the GGIE – David Smith

Not only did Berkeley resident and sculptor William Huff create several monumental sculptures for the GGIE, he also designed and executed much of the UC Museum of Paleontology’s impressive display as part of the GGIE “Science in the Service of Man” exhibit.  It featured dioramas, life-size heads of prehistoric mammals, and more. Smith, a retired graphic designer at the Museum of Paleontology, is working on an online biography of Huff and will discuss Huff’s GGIE contributions and what became of them after the Fair.



-- All Events are at the Berkeley Historical Society --

Berkeley History Center - Veterans Memorial Building

1931 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 848-0181

Admission free; donations welcome; wheelchair accessible




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1931 Center Street - Berkeley, CA 94704

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