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Location

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library
Special Collections Reading Room, 5th Floor
150 E. San Fernando St.
San José, CA 95112

Hours

By appointment only
Please contact us by phone or email to schedule an appointment.

Mailing Address

Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History
San José State University
One Washington Square
San José, CA 95192-0147


(408) 808-2064
research@sourisseauacademy.org

Les Amis de Sourisseau Photo Albums and Videos

Distributed monthly and written by members of the Sourisseau Board of Directors as well as local historians, the Les Amis de Sourisseau's photo albums and videos showcase photographs from the Smith-Layton Archives at the Sourisseau Academy. Many of the albums highlight photographs purchased with donations from Les Amis de Sourisseau, a group of donors who support the Sourisseau Academy through their generous giving.


2018 Photo Albums

When Artists Flew Like Birds

From second story rooftops in 1858 to the 115-foot "birds' nest" atop the dome of the County Court House in 1869 to the 207-foot platform near the top of the Electric Light Tower in 1881, artists and photographers, lugging sketch pads, tripods and glass plate negatives, climbed higher and higher to capture iconic panoramic vistas of our growing city. Peruse this month's album, presented by retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton, for a journey into the sky to the imaginary heights from which artists have transformed our Valley into a fantastical realm where the Hotel De Anza can easily loom larger than all of San Francisco.

Horse Power

From 1850 to 1910, livery stables, harness makers, blacksmiths and wagon builders were essential to transportation and commerce in virtually every California town. In this month's photo album , retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton provides an illustrated tour through the Equine Era of "horse power" to its replacement by the "horsepower" of the automobile. Or you can watch the Sourisseau News video as another way to return to the era of the horse and buggy, and the sweet aroma of fruit trees by the side of the road.

When Letterheads Told a Story

Does your insurance agent send you letters with fantastical wood-elves packing a giant cornucopia? Probably not, but the late 19th century was a Golden Age for San José engravers who created those designs, and more. In this month's photo album, retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton presents half a century of exuberant letterheads from local printers. For another view of the elegant, engraved graphics that graced the letterheads of San Jose merchants during the same years as the "Equine Era" you can also watch the Sourisseau News video.

Women at Work

Despite the pervasive myth of the "stay at home" wife and mother, working women have been a mainstay of the Santa Clara Valley workforce for well over a century. This month's photo album, presented by retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton, recognizes this unsung labor force of cannery workers, telephone operators and clerks -- not to mention the entrepreneurial founders of the Women's Fruit Preserving Association, whose 1890s Honeysuckle Brand labels graced fruit cans from coast to coast. Watch the Sourisseau News video to enjoy that tribute to a century of working women, whose labor was essential to the growth of commerce in our Valley.

Gateways and Arches: Affirmations of Place

Although a vast unbroken urban cityscape now sprawls across the South Bay, there was once a time when its towns and institutions celebrated the boundaries of their separate existence. This month's photo album reflects retired Anthropology Professor Tom Layton's appreciation of the gates, arches and banners that reassured our citizenry that there was actually "a there, there!" You can also watch the Sourisseau News video that shows how our Valley's towns and institutions once sought to affirm their separate existence.

San José Signs

Half a century ago many of our elders complained that the garish in-your-face signage flashing along our main streets had become a public blight. The resulting sign ordinances limiting the size and placement of signs was a nail in the coffin of the Age of Neon. San José historian Heather David (Queen of mid-century Modern, Maven of Kitsch and leader of the San José Signs Project) tells the story of signage in San José. For her take on the blinking tableaus that are now returning to respectability as a retro art form, view this month's photo album . You can also watch the Sourisseau News video of Heather's celebration of the art of signage, when glowing neon and flashing chaser lights promised an exciting shopping experience.

Waterways and Floods

Recently, San José residents were ripping out their lawns in response to California's on-going drought. But over the past two centuries, we have suffered much more from floods. Peruse this month's photo album for Sourisseau Archives Assistant Michael Pearce's story of Santa Clara Valley’s floods and the reservoirs built to prevent them, or watch the Sourisseau News video here.

New Almaden: A Model Company Town

An Arabian town in the Santa Clara Valley? Well, not quite! Although many know our local New Almaden Historic District and County Park take their names from the Almaden mercury mines in Spain, few people realize that the Romans were the first to develop those mines. The mines in Spain were renamed by the Eighth Century Islamic conquerors of Spain and called "Al Madan" (The Mine). The name survived for well over a thousand years and was reused when mercury was discovered in California. Read through this months' photo album for Sourisseau Board Member and Anthropology Professor Charlotte Sunseri's story of our New Almaden, from the California Gold Rush to the early Twentieth Century. You can also watch the Sourisseau News video on New Almaden, a tightly operated company town, which reportedly produced more wealth than any of the California’s gold mines.

Ethnic Communities of Santa Clara Valley, 1848-1920

As you leaf through your multilingual voter pamphlet, you will NOT find instructions in French, German, Italian or Portuguese. But as historian Ralph Pearce reveals, between 1848 and 1920 those ethnic groups were among our most prevalent communities. Read through this month's photo album to learn more about some of San José's early immigrants and their interesting ethnic neighborhoods. You can also watch the Sourisseau News video that tells that story of the tremendous growth of the ethnic diversity of our Valley's populace that took place during the decades of quicksilver production at New Almaden.

Early Banks

From the 1860s to World War II, most of the money in Santa Clara County was stacked in the vaults of San José banks located within two blocks of First and Santa Clara Streets. Michael Hurley, retired attorney and Sourisseau Board member, would have us "follow the money" by viewing this month's album, and enjoying his "high-end" tour of the true home of the "green" in San José. You can also watch Michael's Sourisseau News video featuring San José's earliest banks, only one of which, A.P. Giannini's Bank of Italy, celebrated an ethnicity before becoming the much more inclusive Bank of America.

2017 Photo Albums

Eccentric Architecture

An Egyptian Temple at 21st and San Antonio? Onion-topped parapets in Santa Cruz? The South Bay has long been a hothouse for architectural fantasy. View this month's photo album and join Tom Layton, SJSU Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, for a tour of over-the-top inspiration, preserved in bricks and mortar! You can also watch the Sourisseau News video for this foray into unbridled architectural fantasy!

Marching to a Different Beat

Long before Steve Jobs and the "Woz" turned their eccentric notions into one of the most valuable corporations in the world, the Santa Clara Valley was already serving as a tolerant incubator for other local "originals." View this month's photo album to join Tom Layton, SJSU Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, for a quick-and-dirty tour past a century-and-a-half of visionaries, free spirits, and a few crackpots who likewise "marched to a different beat!" You can also watch the Sourisseau News video of this foray into unbridled architectural fantasy.

Alice Iola Hare and the Gardens of the Heart's Delight

How is it possible that, as early as 1905 and long before the invention of color photography, Alice Iola Hare (possibly the first postcard photographer in the Santa Clara Valley) was able to publish penny postcards with striking color images? The answer: Alice was among the first California photographers to send black and white negatives to Germany, where a corps of artists hand-brushed the colors onto each print. And (spoiler alert) each time Alice placed an order for more cards, showing, for example, an Interurban rail car, the artists used different colors! Join April Hope Halberstadt, local historian and Sourisseau Board member, for an Alice Iola Hare retrospective in this month's photo album. Or you can watch the Sourisseau News video that features the intrepid photographer Alice Iola Hare who, in 1903, brought her own distinct vision to the first wave of the Penny Postcard craze.

Football in Santa Clara Valley

Well through the first decade of the 20th Century, San Jose Normal School graduation photos featured a sea of frilly white gowns and a bare handful of dark suits. Who would imagine that those few men could field a competitive football team in 1898? Libra Hilde, SJSU history professor and Sourisseau Board member, tells the story of that bone-bruising sport in the Santa Clara Valley. View this month's photo album to see athletic young men wearing cork shin-guards with nary a helmet in sight! You can also watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, of the days when helmets were negotiable.

Santa Clara Valley's Railroad Lines

Before 1864, travel around our beautiful Valley and beyond was virtually impossible six months of the year: mid-winter and mid-summer the roads were either a sea of mud or dust. Shipping Santa Clara Valley produce to market in San Francisco was difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Michael Pearce, Sourisseau's Assistant Archivist, chronicles the many railroad lines that changed life in the Valley. Our Valley is still served hourly by the oldest railroad line west of the Mississippi: once known as the San Francisco & San José Railroad, today we call it Caltrain. Our initial investment, made over 150 years ago, continues to serve us well. Recall that magnificent triumph of mass transportation by viewing this month's photo album. Or, if you prefer a video, watch the Sourisseau News video here, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester.

Santa Clara Valley Women Cannery Workers

By the early 1930s, the Santa Clara Valley's canneries were the largest employers of women in California. Margo McBane, SJSU History professor and Sourisseau Board member, tells us their story of 18-hour workdays, with employment opportunity divided along gender, ethnic and racial lines. Experience the lives of women cannery workers in the valley in this month's photo album, which is a tribute to their hard work. You can also watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and imagine the smell of Gilroy garlic on the morning breeze and recall the aroma of tomato catsup or Del Monte pickles from our local canneries.

Morgan Hill

The drive between Morgan Hill and San José is now one of the most congested in the area. But Beth Wyman, Sourisseau Board member and former Mayor of Morgan Hill, recalls a gentler era (1905-1969) when her town was known for its orchards, nurseries, and quiet suburban living. Click here for Beth's "Morgan Hill" photo album, or for a slightly different experience, watch the Sourisseau News video (who, we might add, grew up "cutting 'cots" on her Dad's fruit ranch) and experience the orchard and nursery era in Morgan Hill, where women's work, though somewhat different, was equally intense!

Let's Shop!

Mirroring cities all over the country, the early 20th century shopping experience in the Santa Clara Valley centered on downtown. And for the first half of the century, Downtown San José was the valley’s main shopping destination. From the lady in her heels to the farmer in his work boots, the city’s downtown stores catered to folks from all walks of life. Following World War II, economic prosperity ignited the construction of suburban shopping centers all over the Valley, and it was not long before urban businesses followed the mass migration to the suburbs. From Hart’s and Hale’s to Valley Fair and Eastridge, we bring you the valley of shopping delight in this month's photo album, Heather David's (author of "Mid-Century by the Bay") introduction to modern consumerism. Watch the Sourisseau News video sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and join "Mall-Maven" Heather David for a look at fifty years of fashionable shopping.

Los Gatos

Decades before postwar urban sprawl erased the physical divides between Santa Clara Valley towns, Los Gatos had already achieved widespread recognition as an iconic location representing a newly emerging California life-style. Join Amy Long (Curator of History at New Museum Los Gatos) for a tour of that storied community in this month's photo album. Watch our Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and enjoy Log Gatos, which for decades was Sunset Magazine's iconic version of life in the Santa Clara Valley.

Hotel Vendome

There was a time, long before the Fairmont, the Hilton and the Marriott, that the Vendome Hotel (1888-1930) stood unchallenged at the pinnacle of South Bay elegance. Tourists and conventioneers could step through the front doors of the Vendome and board carriages for a day trip to the Lick Observatory atop Mt. Hamilton, where they could actually view the craters of the moon later in the evening. Michael Hurley, retired attorney and member of the Vendome Neighborhood Association, tells the story in this month's photo album of this early 20th century ultramodern venue, featuring guest rooms with individual bathrooms, steam heat, and the elegant convenience of Otis elevators. From its very beginning, San José's Hotel Vendome clearly surpassed all visitor accommodations in Los Gatos. Watch our Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and repose in 19th century Victorian splendor at San José's premier hotel!

Bicyles in Santa Clara County

Once upon a time, the only mechanical vehicles on our city streets (other than horse-drawn conveyances) were bicycles! Sourisseau Board member Ralph Pearce, bike rider and antique bicycle restorer, takes us for a ride down an unpaved memory lane in this month's photo album. Ralph recalls the decades of San José's bicycle past, from the 1870s high-wheelers with no brakes (and he actually rides one) to the chain-driven bicycles we ride today. We can assure you that "You still look sweet, upon the seat, of a bicycle built for two!" To experience the full history of bicycles in the Santa Clara Valley, watch this month's Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester.

Lives of Automobiles

Whether it is first love at a high school sock-hop, or at a dealer showroom; or a subsequent on-line search for a new partner, or the indignity of a used car lot; or the move to an old folks home, or consignment to a junkyard, humans and automobiles experience the same life events. Join Sourisseau Board member Tom Layton for this month's photo album in the comparison of the life stages of humans and automobiles. Watch this month's Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and consider the plight of our automobiles. Their secret lives, unknown until now, rival our own emotions.


2016 Photo Albums

Ice Cream

Did you know that the iconic banana-split sundae was invented in 1904? Or that, of even greater local importance, by the mid-1860s, cold creamy ice cream -- frozen with block ice cut from Sierra lakes -- was already bringing a modicum of relief to the summertime residents of San Jose? Join Sourisseau Board member Tom Layton for a yummy tour of South Bay fountains, creameries, and even a yogurt shop in this month's photo album! Watch this month's Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and enjoy over a century of locally produced ice cream and the creameries, pharmacies, drive-ins and diners that served it up!

From Willows to Glen

Few Millennials strolling along Willow Glen's Lincoln Avenue are aware that it took a drainage canal to convert the soggy, swampy, Willows District into the rich orchard land that now underlies one of San José's most gentrified residential neighborhoods. For this month's video, join Sourisseau Board member (and long-time Willow Glen resident) Tom Layton for a romp across the long arc of Willow Glen history. Watch our Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and enjoy a stroll among the familiar old-time storefronts of Willow Glen, a neighborhood where Ozzie and Harriet's parents might still feel at home.

Wetting Your Whistle in the Valley

Would you believe that in 1902, San José was the home of ninety saloons? That’s one saloon for every 240 San Joseans! For this month's photo album, Ralph Pearce, Sourisseau Board member and recent co-author of an outstanding history of the San José Japanese community, tells the soggy story of how our thirsty forefathers wet their whistle – researched, we are assured, entirely from dry archival sources and not, we hope, from participant observation. Watch our Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and join Ralph Pearce for a tipsy tour of trendy tippling in the rest of our Valley!

The German Community in San Jose

Out-of-state visitors to San José and Santa Clara County are often amazed by the plethora of Spanish place names, and are also perplexed by their pronunciation. But they may be even more amazed to discover that many of our fair city's earliest movers and shakers -- architects, merchants, brewers and even volunteer firemen -- were German. For our September Photo Album, local historian and Sourisseau Board member, April Hope Halberstadt, who carries the bona fides German surname and local German expertise through years of research, tells the story of this dynamic community that contributed so much to the commercial and architectural core of early San José. Watch our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and follow April Halberstadt's story of the San José German community, whose recipes for barley and hops kept all those saloons supplied with barrels of bubbling beer.

El Centro: The Mexican History of San José, 1797-1960

Many of us hardly notice that most of the streets in San Jose's downtown have Spanish names. But did you know that Pueblo San José, established in 1777 (just one year after the American Declaration of Independence), was not only the first civilian settlement in California, but also remained a Spanish, and then a Mexican, possession for over half a century until after the California Gold Rush of 1848? For our August Photo Album, we are proud to present the on-going story of Mexican Americans in San José, jointly told by history professor and Sourisseau Board member Margo McBane and historical management consultant Suzanne Guerra, whose many accomplishments include her service as Historian for the State Office of Historic Preservation. Watch this month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and follow Margo McBane and Suzanne Guerra's story of San José's Mexican-American community, which got here so early as to deprive the Germans from planting their own favorite names on the landscape.

Politics in San José

It is not always a pleasure to watch the manufacture of sausage, or to experience a modern election cycle. But for our July Photo Album, Glen Gendzel, longtime Sourisseau Trustee, and new Chair of the San José State University History Department, reminds us that the latter process has produced some of our best-loved public servants. Watch this month's Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and follow Glen Gendzel's stories of San Jose mayors (and several presidents, too) right up to the turn of the millennium.

The Real Gilroy

Long before Gilroy became the Garlic Capitol of the World, it was the City of Opportunity. And even before that, it was the Home of the Prune! For our June photo album, Tom Layton reviews 150 years of catchy monikers in search of the Real Gilroy! View this month's photo album to freeze-frame that moving target! Watch this month's Sourisseau News Video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and join Tom Layton for a 150-year romp through Gilroy history!

Motel San José

By the 1920s, many motorists were spending their nights on the road at Auto Courts, most of which had a row or more of tiny identical cabins to rent for the night. Today most motorists stay in cushy motor hotels that often have fancy in-house restaurants. But during the decades in between – the 1940s, '50s and '60s – travelers stayed at motels whose mid-century-modern architects created visual feasts of flashy eye-catching structures, bathed at sunset in the glow of neon. For our May photo album, Heather David, our Maven of mid-century-modern, takes us on a tour of some of those fantasy buildings. Interested in more? Be sure to buy a set of Heather’s Bay Area architectural playing cards, which went on sale just last month! Join Heather David in our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, to view the mid-century modern, neon glow, high kitsch ambiance of Motel San José, where you might spot an angel-winged waitress before retiring in a Tiki Lei Suite!

Main Streets South of the Bay

What do movie theater marquees and license plates on cars have in common? This month they've provided us with precise dates for many of the main streets that we feature in our photo album. License plates are easily dated by their shapes and color patterns. Theater marquees show movie titles whose release dates are quickly revealed by a Google search. To visit those dynamic main streets of yesteryear, simply read our April photo album ! Watch this month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, and join Tom Layton for a trip down thirteen of the historic Main Streets of the South Bay.

Local Residential Architecture

From dirt-floored adobes to glass-walled Eichlers and beyond, the houses of San José preserve over 240 years of architectural change. Today, we present a simplistic semblance of that stylistic evolution. Click here to read our March photo album and visit an era when a San José residence might echo the lines of a Greek temple or a Gothic cathedral. This month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, gives you the opportunity to enjoy a quick and dirty romp through almost a quarter-millennium of San Jose architectural history.

Smokestacks in Garden Valley

Although preservationists have made little effort to celebrate them, smokestacks, belching black soot and cinders, once stood proudly like exclamation points, punctuating the skyline of our verdant valley! This month, we feature those heretofore-unsung sentinels of our landscape. Click here to view our February photo album, and inhale the smog! Our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, takes us back to when a slight change in wind direction could quickly turn the clean white wash on your clothesline to a sooty gray.

Fire! The San Jose Fire Department

Our story of "Fire!" starts with crews of rag-tag volunteers racing on foot to burning buildings and carrying ladders to rescue people from upper stories while carrying hooks to pull down burning walls. This was way before we had the modern technology of hand-powered pumps or even accessible water to actually douse a conflagration. Our story ends with Les Amis supporters Lee and Diane Brandenburg presenting a document -- of extremely flammable paper, we confess -- to our fair city, not only to preserve an historic firehouse but also to preserve all 166 years of local fire history that the firehouse will soon contain! April Halberstadt, historian and author of numerous books, including The Willow Glen Neighborhood: Then and Now (1997), and Saratoga, California (2009), tells the story of fire in our January photo album. Watch the Sourisseau News video here to see volunteer fire fighters way back in the 1860s pushing carts with hooks and ladders, replaced in 1876 by horses pulling steam pumpers, only to be superseded in 1914 by automotive power.


2015 Photo Albums

Gassing Up!

There was a time, not so long ago, when a white-uniformed service station attendant would come to your window and ask, "Regular or Extra?" before raising your hood, checking your oil and washing your windshield. For our December photo album, we trace the progress of the gasoline-purchasing experience, from the courtly hospitality of yesteryear to the self-service ordeal of today. Our "Gassing Up!" Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda Lee Lester, recounts the progress of the San José gas station experience from the days of sloshing a bucket-full and "Let me check your oil and tire pressure," through the age of white-uniformed service attendants to modern times and Rotten Robbie (full disclosure: Linda drives an electric car).

Andrew Putnam Hill, Photographer

San José's Andrew P. Hill High School is well known to all. Less well remembered is the subject of this month's photo album, Andrew P. Hill, San Jose's most accomplished artist and photographer of the late 19th century, whose name graces that venerable institution. And even less remembered (let us say, forgotten) was the influence of Laura Watkins, his mother-in-law, who insisted that he earn enough to support her daughter. Mrs. Watkins thus deserves a modicum credit for Hill's photographic legacy. Watch the Sourisseau News video, supported by Linda L. Lester, that traces the photographic career of Andrew Putnam Hill, who earned his first fame as an artist and photographer, but his perseverance and magnificent photographs earned him a second, more lasting fame, as "the man who saved the redwoods."

Let's Go to the Movies!

The Hippodrome, Victory, Lyric, DeLuxe, Padre and the Mission are names that bring tears to the eyes of San José's oldest fans of moving pictures. Rick Helin, who lends his considerable digital skills to the restoration of old San Jose movie footage, tells the story of San Jose's theaters, from the dancing dogs of Vaudeville to sub-titled silent movies accompanied by orchestras to the "talkies" that we enjoy today! Watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, of that time before the dawn of pixels and digits, when movies arrived at theaters on reels of hundreds of feet of celluloid film and when men dressed in suits and women wore gloves to be carried far away by images upon a silver screen.

Ice Cold Beer

The next time you gaze at the truncated diagonal entrance to the Hotel Sainte Claire at the corner of Market and San Carlos, allow your mind to drift back 169 years to this very spot in 1856. Then, taste the bitter hops, inhale the sweet aroma of fermenting barley, and listen to the guttural German-accented English spoken by the owner and employees of the Eagle Brewery. That should prepare you for this month's Photo Album, which tells the story of Beer in the Santa Clara Valley. Did you know that beer was the beverage of choice back in the days before local water was purified? And that's exactly how our first brewery promoted their first named beer: "Old Joe, It's pure, that's sure!" Watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, without any risk of a hangover, and experience the saga of beer in the Santa Clara Valley.

The Home Front

August 15th marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Much has been written about the European and Pacific Theaters of that world-wide conflict, but the war was also fought by local factories and magazines right here in the South Bay. And so, in this month's Photo Album, we present a less familiar view of the war, as experienced here on "the home front:" an industrial base, powered by personal sacrifice, that helped achieve that hard-won victory in 1945. Watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, and relive an era in which the Food Machinery Company was manufacturing "Water Buffalo" amphibious tanks right here in San Jose.

Arnold Del Carlo, the Valley's Photographer

This month’s photo album, written by Heather David, author of Mid-Century by the Bay, provides a sample of wonderful images by one of the Valley's most prolific photographers, Arnold "Del" Del Carlo. From the end of World War II through the 1970s, Del Carlo documented the evolution of our home-turf from prune orchards to the Silicon Valley. And guess what? We are currently shooting a full-length movie about Del Carlo, and this album will be a sneak preview of the kinds of images that our movie will bring to life. The end of WWII saw a burgeoning population bring a building boom to the Santa Clara Valley, which was treated by designers and developers as a broad, blank canvas upon which they could sketch and then build their wildest architectural fantasies. Del Carlo's work depicting the exuberance of mid-century modern architecture throughout San Jose has been recorded in Heather David’s Mid-Century by the Bay. Our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, is Heather’s tribute to Del Carlo and to the mid-century building boom that he documented.

St. James Square

Who really designed St. James Park? Was it Frederick Law Olmsted, as most of our history books suggest? This month's photo album by Charlene Duval, our Sourisseau Historian and Executive Secretary, shares the history of St. James Park. She will reveal who really designed it and share the subsequent events that have made the park that we know today. Watch the Sourisseau News story of St. James Park, our downtown gem, in this video sponsored by Linda L. Lester.

Fiesta de las Rosas

This month's photo album tells the story of the 1969 Fiesta de las Rosas, which was planned as the revival of an old San José tradition celebrating our pueblo's Californio past. Who could have imagined that cultural differences between Californians and the more recently arrived Mexicans would result in a cultural face-off that, some four decades later, finds us celebrating Cinco de Mayo? Click on the attached photo album to follow that fascinating story. Watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, that tells the 119-year old story of the Carnival of Roses, from 1896 up to its direct descendant: our annual July 4th Rose, White and Blue parade down The Alameda.

1906 Earthquake: As It Rocked San José

We know that all Baby Boomers, with those blue suede shoes still fresh in their memories, think that rock and roll was invented in 1956. But not necessarily! It arrived in San Jose in April, exactly half a century earlier, when our fair city literally rocked and rolled in the Great Earthquake of 1906. Historian Lauren Miranda Gilbert, co-author with Bob Johnson of San José’s Historic Downtown, takes us on a guided tour of downtown San José in 1906, or at least what was left of it, following that infamous and unforgettable tremor. Commemorating that catastrophic event that took place one hundred and nine years ago today is our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, that looks back at the effects of the earthquake in downtown San Jose.

Quest for Flight: Santa Clara Valley as an American Crucible of Aeronautics

Did you know that this year marks the 110th anniversary of the first fully controlled flights in history? It happened not at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina but right here in the South Bay: at Aptos, Santa Clara College and San Jose's Agricultural Park, in a plane designed by John Montgomery, a scientist/inventor/professor at Santa Clara College. Today, we tell you that story and its larger relevance to the "conquest of the skies," based on the research of historians Craig S. Harwood and Gary B. Fogel, authors of the book Quest for Flight: John J. Montgomery and the Dawn of Aviation in the West. For a refreshing breeze through your hair, our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, takes you "up, up and away," back to the very beginnings of flight in the Santa Clara Valley.

The City of Campbell, California

Our featured historian for February is our own Sourisseau Board member, Bob Johnson, who for many years served as Librarian at the San José City Library's California Room. Bob is the author or co-author of three books about San Jose, the latest of which is his history of Frontier Village. Today, we present Bob's photo album about the town where he lives: Campbell, California. Did you know that Campbell is one of the youngest cities in the South Bay? It wasn't incorporated until 1952, and it wasn't until 1969 that the old Brynteson Ranch became Campbell's biggest attraction: the Prune Yard Shopping Center. Find out all about this, and much more, in this month's photo album. If after shopping at Trader Joe's and taking in a movie at Camera Seven, you have a hard time believing that our Pruneyard Shopping Center was ever actually a prune orchard, our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, will take you back to the beginnings of the City of Campbell.

Whatever Happened to the Corner Market?

The New Year brings a new feature: the historians of San José! And we've got some great historians, each of whom will be assembling a monthly photo album on a topic of their choice. For January, we are featuring Ralph Pearce, well-known author of From Asahi to Zebras: Japanese American Baseball in San José, California, and most recently as the co-author with Curt Fukuda of San José Japantown: A Journey. Ralph also writes the monthly blog for the California Room's "Looking Back" series. For this photo album, however, you'll enjoy his "Whatever Happened to the Corner Market?," a pictorial of local grocery stores where some of you may have actually shopped! And then, if you find yourself with a hankering for a snack, watch the Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, which will bring joy back into your shopping experience: a 100-year survey of local grocery stores and their successor super markets.


2014 Photo Albums

Cannery and Crate Labels

The San José Museum of Art may never acknowledge it, but the marriage of technology and marketing over a century ago right here in the Santa Clara Valley produced a compelling new form of illustration that soon transcended the world — but without ever achieving the dignity of "serious" art. Our December Photo Album establishes a digital gallery that, in its own particular way, marries art to disruptive digital technology, enabling us to reach our public without the burden of a bricks-and-mortar edifice. Watch this month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, to help us forget the Winter Solstice and the icy north wind that whistles outside our windows. Instead, we get to languish in artful visions of the Valley of Heart's Delight, as preserved on the colorful labels which adorned the wood fruit crates and cans that shipped our bounty near and far!

Car Culture

Our photo album this month takes you to 1910, when car culture was in full swing. Prepare yourself to be outraged by the scandalous hint of cleavage inviting automobilists to Letcher's Garage in downtown San José. Then travel forward to 1918 to consider the beginnings of coast-to-coast billboard advertising. Seven years before Burma-Shave, the United States Tire Company was already placing themed billboards across the countryside and presenting little-known historical facts about cities and towns. If you look carefully at the billboard, you'll discover two amazing facts about Gilroy! This month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, keeps us far enough ahead of an enormous dust cloud threatening to swallow our Model T Ford on the road to San José, so that we can pull to the side and enjoy our own small part of a nationwide advertising campaign.

Cool, Clear Water Photo Album and video

There's a lake in downtown San José? Are you kidding me? Our October Photo Album proves it! In the summer of 1914, you could actually buy an ice cream cone and rent a rowboat at Port San-O-Say, near the corner of West Santa Clara and River Streets. We tell that story, with side trips to Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz and Watsonville, and include a bonus X-rated, peep-show view inside the gentlemen's bathhouse at Alum Rock Park! Watch this month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, to wet your toes at San Jose's first, and only, lakeside resort.

"Our Japanese Neighbors: 1942" Photo Album and video

Our September photo album takes us to San José State University where workmen are applying the final touches to the newly renovated Uchida Hall gymnasium complex. Few students returning for their Fall 2014 semester will realize that 72 years ago, the Uchida family and every other person of Japanese descent living in San Jose were summoned to that very building to register for their forced removal to internment camps, where they would be imprisoned for the duration of World War II. Watch the Sourisseau News video to travel full circle from 1942 to the opening this year of San José State University's brand new Yoshihiro Uchida gymnasium complex.

"San José's Notre Dame" and videos of San José's City Halls and Notre Dame

Our August photo album takes us to West Santa Clara Street, where we ascend to the lofty, 22-story summit of the Axis Tower, before descending down to the very bottom of the bricks and mortar foundations of Notre Dame College: a vertical distance of 220 feet, and a temporal distance of over one-and-a-half centuries. But that's just for starters! We have two videos this month, made possible by the generous sponsorship of Linda Lester. Watch our magnificent narrated Sourisseau News video of the Notre Dame Neighborhood. And we've all seen San José's magnificent 21st century City Hall, on East Santa Clara Street, with its resident Peregrine Falcons. Now, our newest mini-video reveals the fascinating back-story of our two earliest City Halls. "Inquiring Minds" can watch the video to learn how these early structures were actually cooled in the summertime.

July Photo Album and video of the development of the magnetic disk drive

One of the photos in our July photo album poses the question: Is the 1857 date on the San José State University seal misleading? You'll have to decide. Then, travel aboard our time machine to visit the Chinese pagoda constructed at New Almaden in 1855, and, if you can withstand the jet-lag, jump forward one century to consider the first 600 houses of Tropicana Village in 1959. But there's even more! This month our Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, documents IBM's development of Random Access Memory just a few blocks from the Shark Tank in downtown San José, at 99 Notre Dame Av. This was a giant event that helped transform the Valley of the Heart's Delight into Silicon Valley, and established San Jose as the birthplace of the modern computer.

June Photo Album and video of A.P. Giannini and the Bank of America Building

This month's collection of photographs covers a variety of topics, from local band Red Rock Canyon Cowboys, to banks, bungalows, soda fountains and barbershops, as well as the early trucking and transportation industry in the US. Just click on the attachment to take a look. And if it hadn't been for an Italian kid from Alviso, many of us might be buying things with Bank of Italy credit cards! Far fetched? Perhaps! But we do guarantee that this month's Sourisseau News video, sponsored by Linda L. Lester, and featuring Amadeo Pietro Giannini, is sure to give you a new perspective on the old Bank of America building at First and Santa Clara. Watch the video and be transported back to yesteryear.

May Photo Album and video of the 1930 Army Air Corps Air Show

This month our 8 pages of photos takes you on another tour across space and time: from an 1860 view east from the College of Notre Dame, then south to downtown Morgan Hill in 1908, with stopovers at the San José Speedway in 1931 and a visit to the house where Clyde Arbuckle, our long-ago Sourisseau Board member and noted San Jose historian grew up – plus four other scenic locations. We are also proud to present our third mini-video, generously sponsored by Linda L. Lester. This time we join the Army Air Corps for a 1930 flight along East Santa Clara Street, with incredible aerial views of six local landmarks.

April Photo Album and video of the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race

This month, our 8-page photo album is a random walk through time and across geography, presenting mini-views of the diverse history of our region. We are tourists viewing miscellaneous sights from Ham Radio in 1934 to our Greyhound Bus Station in 1944, and then way back to the Campbell Fruit Company in 1904 -- plus five other scenic attractions. In our new video, sponsored by our dear friend Linda L. Lester, we are sticking to one grand theme: the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, as experienced in San Jose.

March Photo Album and video of the 1911 Flood

This month, our 8-page photo album is a random walk through time and across geography, presenting mini-views of the diverse history of our region. We are tourists viewing miscellaneous sights from women packing dried fruit at the A. Block Fruit Packing Company to members of the still extant Order of Malta Our video, and even "Pop" Warner, one of San José State's most popular and famous coaches as he gives instructions to two college quarterbacks in 1939. For the video, this month's is a reworking of our 8-photo series on the Flood of 1911 into a one-minute video.