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Photographs from the Sourisseau collection

Les Amis de Sourisseau Photo Albums and Videos

Distributed monthly from 2014 to 2018 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.

The albums can be viewed in PDF or as videos.

2018 Photo Albums

When Artists Flew Like Birds (PDF)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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 climbed higher and higher to capture iconic panoramic vistas of our growing city.

Horse Power (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

From 1850 to 1910, livery stables, harness makers, blacksmiths and wagon builders were essential to transportation and commerce in virtually every California town, eventually giving way to the "horsepower" of the automobile.

When Letterheads Told a Story (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

The late 19th century was a Golden Age for San José engravers who created fantastical letter-head designs and more.

Women at Work (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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. They've been found in diverse work settings such as canneries, telephone operating centers, and offices, 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.

Gateways and Arches: Affirmations of Place (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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 through such architectural features as gates, arches and banners that reassured our citizenry that there was actually "a there, there!"

San José Signs (PDF | Video)
by Heather David

San José historian Heather David tells the story of signage in San José, now returning to respectability as a retro art form although 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.

Waterways and Floods (PDF | Video)
by Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce's story of Santa Clara Valley’s centuries of floods and the reservoirs built to prevent them is presented here.

New Almaden: A Model Company Town (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Charlotte Sunseri

Sourisseau Board Member and Anthropology Professor Charlotte Sunseri presents here the story of San José's tightly operated company town and mines of New Almaden, which reportedly produced more wealth than any of the California’s gold mines.

Ethnic Communities of Santa Clara Valley, 1848-1920 (PDF | Video)
by Ralph Pearce

Local historian Ralph Pearce reveals that between 1848 and 1920 French, German, Italian, and Portuguese immigrants were among San José's most quickly-growing, prevalent, and diverse communities.

Early Banks (PDF | Video)
by Michael Hurley

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, presents the history of 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 (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

Marching to a Different Beat (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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."

Alice Iola Hare and the Gardens of the Heart's Delight (PDF | Video)
by April Halberstadt

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. She 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 each time Alice placed an order for more cards, showing, for example, an Interurban rail car, the artists used different colors.

Football in Santa Clara Valley (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Libra Hilde

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.

Santa Clara Valley's Railroad Lines (PDF | Video)
by Michael Pearce

Michael Pearce, Sourisseau's Assistant Archivist, chronicles the many railroad lines that changed life in the Valley over the decades. 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.

Santa Clara Valley Women Cannery Workers (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Margo McBane

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.

Morgan Hill (PDF |Video)
by Beth Wyman

Beth Wyman, Sourisseau Board member and former Mayor of Morgan Hill, recalls an earlier era (1905-1969) when her town was known for its orchards, nurseries, and quiet suburban living rather than the congestion of highways leading to and from the area.

Let's Shop! (PDF | Video)
by Heather David

For the first half of the twentieth century, Downtown San José was the valley’s main shopping destination but shortly after 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.

Los Gatos (PDF | Video)
by Amy Long

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.

Hotel Vendome (PDF | Video)
by Michael Hurley

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, featuring guest rooms with individual bathrooms, steam heat, and the elegant convenience of Otis elevators. 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.

Bicyles in Santa Clara County (PDF | Video)
by Ralph Pearce

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, recalls the decades of San José's bicycle past, from the 1870s high-wheelers with no brakes to the chain-driven bicycles we ride today.

Lives of Automobiles (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

2016 Photo Albums

Ice Cream (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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 José?

From Willows to Glen (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

Wetting Your Whistle in the Valley (PDF | Video)
by Ralph Pearce

Would you believe that in 1902, San José was the home of ninety saloons? That’s one saloon for every 240 San Joseans!

The German Community in San Jose (PDF | Video)
by April Halberstadt

Many of san José's earliest movers and shakers -- architects, merchants, brewers and even volunteer firemen -- were German. Sourisseau Board member April Halberstadttells the story of this dynamic community that contributed so much to the commercial and architectural core of early San José.

El Centro: The Mexican History of San José, 1797-1960 (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Margo McBane and Suzanne Guerra

Pueblo San José was established in 1777 (just one year after the American Declaration of Independence) and 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? Margo McBane and Suzanne Guerra present the on-going story of Mexican Americans in San José.

Politics in San José (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Glen Gendzel

Dr. Glen Gendzel, longtime Sourisseau Trustee and recent Chair of the San José State University History Department, presents stories of San José mayors (and several presidents, too) right up to the turn of the millennium.

The Real Gilroy (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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!

Motel San José (PDF | Video)
by Heather David

During the decades of 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.

Main Streets South of the Bay (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

Local Residential Architecture (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

From dirt-floored adobes to glass-walled Eichlers and beyond, the houses of San José preserve over 240 years of architectural change.

Smokestacks in Garden Valley (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

Fire! The San Jose Fire Department (PDF | Video)
by April Halberstadt

April Halberstadt, historian and author of numerous books, tells the story of volunteer fire fighters who way back in the 1860s pushed carts with hooks and ladders, were replaced in 1876 by horses pulling steam pumpers, and were there superseded in 1914 by automotive power.

2015 Photo Albums

Gassing Up! (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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. Tom Layton 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.

Andrew Putnam Hill, Photographer (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

Andrew P. Hill is one of San Jose's most accomplished artists and photographers of the late 19th century whose perseverance and magnificent photographs earned him a second, more lasting fame, as "the man who saved the redwoods."

Let's Go to the Movies! (PDF | Video)
by Rick Helin

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 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!

Ice Cold Beer (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

Did you know that beer was the beverage of choice back in the days before local water was purified? And that's exactly how San José's first brewery promoted their first named beer: "Old Joe, It's pure, that's sure!"

The Home Front (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

August 15th marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. The war was also fought by local factories and magazines right here in the South Bay. A local industrial base, powered by personal sacrifice, helped achieve that hard-won victory in 1945, with factories such as the Food Machinery Company manufacturing the "Water Buffalo" amphibious tanks right here in San José.

Arnold Del Carlo, the Valley's Photographer (PDF | Video)
by Heather David

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. Some of Del Carlo's work capturing and depicting the exuberance of mid-century modern architecture throughout San Jose is documented here.

St. James Square (PDF | Video)
by Charlene Duval

The history of St. James Park, such as its designer and events that have taken place in it, are presented here.

Fiesta de las Rosas (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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, is told here. 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, or the direct descendant of the Fiesta de Las Rosas: our annual July 4th Rose, White and Blue parade down The Alameda.

1906 Earthquake: As It Rocked San José(PDF | Video)
by Lauren Miranda Gilbert

Historian Lauren Miranda Gilbert commemorates the infamous and unforgettable tremor that hit the Bay Area in 1906, presenting images of the effects of the earthquake in downtown San José.

Quest for Flight: Santa Clara Valley as an American Crucible of Aeronautics (PDF | Video)
by Craig S. Harwood and Gary B. Fogel

Did you know that this year marks the 110th anniversary of the first fully controlled flights in history? It happened 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.

The City of Campbell, California (PDF | Video)
by Bob Johnson

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.

Whatever Happened to the Corner Market? (PDF | Video)
by Ralph Pearce

Ralph Pearce presents a pictorial of local grocery stores where some of you may have actually shopped: a 100-year survey of local grocery stores and their successor super markets.

2014 Photo Albums

Cannery and Crate Labels (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

The marriage of technology and marketing over a century ago right here in the Santa Clara Valley produced a compelling new form of illustration preserved on the colorful labels which adorned the wood fruit crates and cans that shipped the bounty of San José's orchards and gardens near and far.

Car Culture (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

Car culture was in full swing in 1910 as evidenced by the scandalous hint of cleavage inviting automobilists to Letcher's Garage in downtown San José, and by 1918 the beginnings of coast-to-coast billboard advertising were seen. 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.

Cool, Clear Water (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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.

Our Japanese Neighbors: 1942 (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

Few students returning for their Fall 2014 semester at San José State University will realize that 72 years ago, every person of Japanese descent living in San José were summoned to campus to register for their forced removal to internment camps, where they would be imprisoned for the duration of World War II.

San José's Notre Dame and videos of San José's City Halls and Notre Dame (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

West Santa Clara Street sees the lofty, 22-story summit of the Axis Tower but at one time supported 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. Additionally, our newest mini-video reveals the fascinating back-story of our two earliest City Halls.

July Photo Album and video of the development of the magnetic disk drive (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

Is the 1857 date on the San José State University seal misleading? Visit the Chinese pagoda constructed at New Almaden in 1855, and the first 600 houses of Tropicana Village in 1959. Additionally, our video this month 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 (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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. Additionally, this month's video features Amadeo Pietro Giannini and is sure to give you a new perspective on the old Bank of America building at First and Santa Clara.

May Photo Album and video of the 1930 Army Air Corps Air Show (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

This month our 8 photos take 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. Our video joins 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 (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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 we are sticking to one grand theme: the 1908 New York to Paris Auto Race, as experienced in San José.

March Photo Album and video of the 1911 Flood (PDF | Video)
by Dr. Tom Layton

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. In addition, this month's video is a reworking of our 8-photo series on the Flood of 1911.