Thursday, April 24, 2008

Newspaper Clipping File - Subject Index

For more than forty years Art, Music and Recreation Center staff has been clipping articles from San Francisco’s newspapers and organizing the articles by subject. The result is something that we librarians call a "vertical file" defined in the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary as "a collection of pamphlets, pictures, clippings, or other materials stored upright, as in a filing cabinet, or cabinets." We have just added the index to this file to the Library's web page under the category SFPL-Created Research Tools.

Vertical files were especially important to librarians in the days before computers and the internet. Our files initially served a dual function of assembling current information and information that might be difficult to find again, as well as documenting the arts and recreation of the Bay Area. Over the years the second function has come to dominate our use of the file. Until January 2003 scope of the file was the entire Bay Area. Since that time we have limited our coverage to activities and institutions within the San Francisco city limits.

There are files for broad subjects as well as for individual organizations. While some of the newer information saved in the file is today readily accessible through the web and databases, organizing the information chronologically and by subject provides access to the information in a long range and in-depth manner.


We have folders dedicated to specific artistic organizations, as well as those that more broadly cover an art form. This is where the Subject Index to the Newspaper Clipping File is important. Within the index there are many more headings than folders - we only have files for the entries in bold type. The remaining information is an elaborate system of cross references to ease the retrieval of information from the file. There are two ways we do this - using a "See Reference" and a "See Also Reference." A "See Reference" points from a heading without a file to the proper heading which has a file. A "See Also Reference" points from a heading which has a file to other related headings.

Along with the See and See Also References there are also many “x” and “xx” notations throughout the index. These are known in the library world as tracings, and refer back to the See and See Also references. The “x” means that the following term has a See Reference referring to it elsewhere in the Index. The “xx” means that the following term has a related See Also Reference elsewhere in the Index. These notations are for the benefit of the librarians using and updating the file.


The backbone of the index are newspaper clippings. We have systematically clipped and filed articles from the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner for around 40 years. We have always frequently clipped articles from San Francisco’s weekly, monthly and neighborhood newspapers like the San Francisco Bay Guardian, The San Francisco Weekly, The San Francisco Independent, The Nob Hill Gazette, etc... The files can also include fliers, press releases and other ephemera.

A look at the See Also references from broader topics can show the range of coverage of related institutions. For instance, with the heading Museums and Art Galleries one can see a list of more than fifty institutions for which we have created for folders, ranging from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to the Cartoon Art Museum, from the Musee Mecanique to the Museo Italo Americano. A broader heading Football also refers to the San Francisco 49ers, to Extreme Football, as well as College Football (filed under Football, College) and High School Football (filed under Football, High School).

Please remember that this is only an index – none of the file contents are available in an online form. We cannot read, mail, scan, fax or photocopy any file items. We can give an idea of the size and range of the file by phone or email.

As these files are unique, irreplaceable, and sometimes fragile we must hold acceptable identification while they are used. The files must be used under the supervision of Art, Music & Recreation Center reference desk staff.

Also, please remember to consult our two other vertical files – The Musicians and Performing Artists File and the Visual Artists File.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April Music Concerts

The end of April brings two concerts to the Library’s Koret Auditorium.
Spring Koto Concert

On Sunday, April 27, 2008 from 2 to 4 PM, the Library will present a spring program by the San Francisco Koto Ensemble. The koto is a long thirteen-string zither from Japan. According to Grove Music Online, a library database, "it is most important as a household instrument and is considered a valuable adjunct to a refined upbringing and education." The koto tradition represents the essence of Japanese music from ancient days and provides a common thread of the deepest roots of cultural heritage. This event is cosponsored by the Library’s International Center.

"Ring of Fire" - Music of the Pacific Rim

The Del Sol String Quartet is a dynamic, San Francisco-based ensemble that commissions and introduces new work from prominent and emerging composers, and also collaborates with other musicians across cultures and genres. Last June they presented a concert of works by women composers at the Library. On Tuesday, April 29 from 4-5 PM they will present a program entitled “Ring of Fire - Music of the Pacific Rim” that will feature music by composers of America’s West Coast as well as other Pacific Rim nations in Asia and Oceania.

The program will consist of the following works:

Kui Dong (b. 1966, China): Spring (2006)
Jack Body (b. 1944, New Zealand): Epicycle (1989, rev. 2005)
Zhou Long (b. 1953, China): Song of the Ch'in (1982)
John Adams (b. 1947, USA): “Toot Nipple” from John's Book of Alleged Dances (1994)
Gabriela Lena Frank (b. 1972): Leyendas - An Andean Walkabout (2001)
Chinary Ung (b. 1942, Cambodia): Spiral X (2007)
Peter Sculthorpe (b. 1929, Australia): selection from String Quartet No. 16 (2005)

As always, all Library programs are free and open to the public. The Koret Auditorium is located in the Lower Level of the Main Library, at 100 Larkin Street (at Grove). Call (415) 557-4277 for more information.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

California Art Research

An illustration from the entry for Ralph Stackpole
from Volume 14 of California Art Research

One of the tremendous contributions of the Works Project Administration were the government commissioned histories. The twenty volume California Art Research compiled in 1937 remains an important biographical reference. Sponsored by the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Art this set covers California artists who made their residence in San Francisco.

The entries about individual artists provide a biographical sketch, information about holdings of the artist in public collections, lists of representative works, awards, and exhibitions as well as a bibliography.

Here is a detailed list of the artists covered in the twenty volumes:

Volume 1 - Charles Christian Nahl and the Nahl family

Volume 2 - William Keith, Thomas Hill, Albert Bierstadt

Volume 3 - Toby Rosenthal, Dominico [Domenico] Tojetti, Thaddeus Welch, Charles Dorman Robinson

Volume 4 - Jules Tavernier, Emil Carlsen, Amedee Joullin, Christian Jorgenson, Julian Rix, Virgil Williams

Volume 5 - Evelyn A. Withrow, Mary C. Richardson, Joseph Raphael, Charles Grant, Henry J. Breuer, Arthur Atkins

Volume 6 - Arthur Putnam, Robert I. Aitken, Douglas Tilden, Earl Cummings

Volume 7 - Arthur Mathews, Gottardo Piazzoni, Anne Bremer

Volume 8 - Maynard Dixon, Frank Van Sloun

Volume 9 - Ray Boynton, Ernest Peixotto, Francis McComas, H. W. Hansen, Armin Hansen

Volume 10 - Charles Dickman, Xavier Martinez, Charles R. Peters, Theodore Wores

Volume 11 - Giuseppe Cadenasso, Nelson Poole, Rinaldo Cuneo

Volume 12 - Rowena M. Abdy, Geneve R. Sargeant, E. Charlton Fortune, Clark Hobart

Volume 13 - Matteo Sandona, Gleb Ilyin, Peter Ilyin, Nadine Ilyin, J. Moya del Pino

Volume 14 - Ralph Stackpole, Jo Mora, Bejamino Bufano

Volume 15 - Lee Randolph, Gertrude P. Albright, Oliver Albright, Constance Macky, E. Spencer Macky

Volume 16 - Margaret Bruton, Esther Bruton, Helen Bruton, Helen Forbes, Edith Hamlin, Ruth B. Cravath

Volume 17 - Robert Boardman Howard, Charles Houghton Howard, John Langley Howard, Adaline Kent, Jane Berlandina

Volume 18 - Ray Bethers, Julius Pommer, William Gaw, Joseph M. Sheridan

Volume 19 - Lucien Labaudt, Otis Oldfield, Mathew Barnes

Volume 20 - George Booth Post, William Jurgen Hesthall, Dong Kingman, Jacques Schnier, Sergey John Scherbakoff, Dorothy Wagner Puccinelli, Raymond Puccinelli, Yoshida Sediko, Victor Mikhail Arnautoff, Frank Walter, Bergman, Maxine Albro, Chin Chee, Bernard Zakheim, Andree Rexroth, Chiura Obata

Please visit the Art, Music and Recreation Center to see our exhibit commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the New Deal that will be displayed through the end of May.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

75th Anniversary of the New Deal

Edith Hamlin working on a mural at Mission High School
from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

From March 22 through May 31, 2008 the San Francisco Public Library is presenting an expansive exhibit across three floors of the Library that celebrates the 75th anniversary of the New Deal.

On the Library's Fourth Floor both the Art, Music and Recreation Center and the Business, Science and Technology have contributed to create an exhibit entitled "WPA Years: A New Deal Explosion of Art, Public Works and Labor." This features photographs, illustrations, books, and documents from New Deal funded projects including the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Federal Art Project and the Federal Music Project.

The Government Information Center on the 5th floor is presenting "Government and Work: A Chronology of Federal Agencies from the New Deal." The San Francisco History Center on the Library's Sixth floor is presenting "A New Deal for San Francisco: Thanks to WPA!" from March 22 through August 9, 2008 which will include many images from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

Through its regular Large Screen Video Series the library will also present a series of feature and documentary films about the New Deal era in the Library's Koret Auditorium in May, 2008.