History

Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. “A Voice from the Underworld” detailed Alice’s humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering “the life.” While prostitute narratives had been […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-361-5
Price: $20.00

All the Saints of the City of the Angels: Seeking the Soul of L.A. on Its Streets

One fateful afternoon in August of 2000, J. Michael Walker began to notice how many L.A. streets began with the letter “S.” Upon further inspection, he discovered that something else was repeating itself: they were all named for saints! Thus began Walker’s quest to find and document every “saint-street” in L.A. Who named these streets […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-075-1
Price: $35.00

Allensworth, the Freedom Colony: A California African American Township

In 1908, an escaped slave turned army officer named Colonel Allen Allensworth founded a small town in California’s Central Valley where African Americans could thrive. Over the next decade some three hundred Black pioneers established a self-sufficient farming community with its own school, church, businesses, and municipal government. Although the community only flourished for a […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-341-7
Price: $20.00

The Anza Trail and the Settling of California

In 1774, the Spanish viceroy of Mexico sent Juan Bautista de Anza, captain of the Presidio at Tubac (in what is now Arizona), to lead two expeditions: the first to find a safe overland route to Monterey, and the second to return Anza to California with 240 men, women, and children to establish a settlement […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-026-3
Price: $17.00

BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System

When BART opened in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1972, it became a catalyst for a renaissance in modern rail transit, both nationally and internationally. The concept as sold to Bay Area voters was gargantuan: by adopting aerospace technologies such as microchips for ground transportation, the new computer-operated rail system would bridge counties and curb urban sprawl amid a […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-370-7
Price: $20.00

Berkeley 1900: Daily Life at the Turn of the Century (10th Anniversary Edition)

Since its initial publication, Berkeley 1900: Daily Life at the Turn of the Century has captivated readers with its unprecedented blend of serious history, fascinating images, and heartfelt storytelling. Its eyewitness accounts and unique views of Berkeley a hundred years past show how profoundly the landscape, culture, economy, and social values of modern Berkeley have […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-0967820446     available September 2009

Beyond Words: 200 Years of Illustrated Diaries

In the age before cameras, the skill of illustration—like that of piano playing, good penmanship, and journaling—was frequently the mark of an educated person. Whereas the written word alone can adequately record the details of one’s life, enhancing that with illustration adds yet another texture to the story, resulting in works that both intrigue the […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-59714-164-2
Price: $45.00

Big Alma: San Francisco’s Alma Spreckels

Born with an unshakeable belief that she was destined for greatness, Alma de Bretteville Spreckels (1881–1968) rose from poverty to become one of San Francisco’s most powerful women. Alma’s humble beginnings and scandalous lifestyle would alienate her from the cream of San Francisco society: she became an artists’ model, befriended European royalty, married sugar magnate […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-324-0
Price: $22.95

BOOK DRIVE for Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

Welcome to our Fred Korematsu Speaks Up book drive for libraries! Please view our list of nominated libraries to find a library near your home or on the other side of the world. Then, purchase a copy of Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, and we will send that copy to the library of your choice! Questions about how to purchase […]

Hardcover, ISBN: FKOR Temporarily Out of Stock

Bret Harte’s Gold Rush: “Outcasts of Poker Flat,” “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “Tennessee’s Partner,” and Other Favorites

These fifteen stories bring the California Gold Rush to life with their boisterous assemblage of rough-clad miners, pistol-packing preachers, iron-willed women, and philosophical gamblers. Theirs was an unpredictable world, filled with gold strikes and freak tragedies, when the wisdom of the gambler sometimes counted for more than that of the preacher. A master storyteller, Harte […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-0-930588-88-5
Price: $13.95

California: A Study of American Character

California has recently been blessed with a number of careful and colorful works by authors who do not hesitate at—and perhaps even enjoy—shattering the state’s historic icons in order to present an honest view of the state’s formative events and their causes. Josiah Royce’s California, published in 1886, is the prototype for this approach. In […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-52-2
Price: $21.95

Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel, and Legend

It’s a little known fact that the San Francisco Bay Area’s Marin County is named after a Coast Miwok chief who achieved notoriety for defying Spanish authority over his people. Anthropologist and archaeologist Betty Goerke has pieced together a portrait of the life of this Native American leader, using mission records, ethnographies, explorers’ and missionaries’ […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-053-9
Price: $21.95

Children of Manzanar

Eleven tumultuous weeks after Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, an act that authorized the U.S. Army to undertake the rapid removal of more than one hundred thousand Japanese and Japanese Americans from the West Coast. With only a few weeks (and sometimes only a few days) notice, families were forced to abandon their homes and, […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-160-4
Price: $17.95

The Court That Tamed the West: From the Gold Rush to the Tech Boom

From the gold rush to the Internet boom, the US District Court for the Northern District of California has played a major role in how business is done and life is lived on the Pacific Coast. When California was first admitted to the Union, pioneers were busy prospecting for new fortunes, building towns and cities—and […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-59714-246-5
Price: $35.00

Courthouses of California: An Illustrated History

Courthouses of California is a carefully researched and superbly designed photo-documentary book chronicling 150 years of judicial architecture in California. With introductory essays by distinguished members of the fields of history, law, and architecture, and lavishly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, Courthouses of California honors and preserves the rich history of these public buildings and […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-890771-49-2
Price: $50.00

Discovering Early California Afro-Latino Presence

Although it is not generally apparent from paintings and other depictions of early California, many members of the pioneering Anza expeditions and Spanish California’s most prominent families were of mixed race—Hispanic, Indian, and African. At a time when slavery was still legal in the United States, these Afro-Latinos made major contributions to early California.

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-145-1
Price: $5.00

Earthquake Exodus, 1906: Berkeley Responds to the San Francisco Refugees

Earthquake Exodus, 1906 tells the story of the ten-week relief effort in the East Bay after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. Within hours of the earthquake, the people of Berkeley began to organize a citizens’ committee, knowing that terrified masses of stricken refuges would pour into their town within hours. By revisiting both […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-0967820415     available November 2005

First Families: A Photographic History of California Indians

When L. Frank and Marina Drummer went on the road in 2002, they set out to visit as many people from different California tribes as possible. Crisscrossing the state, they taped hundreds of hours of interviews and collected copies of nearly fifteen hundred family photos. The documentary project, funded by the California State Library and […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-013-3
Price: $27.50

Fool’s Paradise: A Carey McWilliams Reader

“It suddenly occurred to me that, in all the world, there neither was nor would ever be another place like this City of the Angels. Here the American people were erupting, like lava from a volcano; here, indeed, was the place for me: a ringside seat at the circus.”—Carey McWilliams, in Southern California Country Carey […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-41-6
Price: $18.95

Forbidden City, USA: Chinese American Nightclubs, 1936–1970

Forbidden City, USA captures the magic and glamour of the Chinese American nightclub scene, which peaked in San Francisco during World War II. In the 1930s and ’40s, audiences flocked to nightclubs to escape the problems of the day with a cocktail and a show. Filmmaker Arthur Dong spent twenty-five years interviewing the entertainers from this […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-0-9915733-0-1
Price: $29.95

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up

An ACL Outstanding Title. Fred Korematsu liked listening to music on the radio, playing tennis, and hanging around with his friends—just like lots of other Americans. But everything changed when the United States went to war with Japan in 1941 and the government forced all people of Japanese ancestry to leave their homes on the […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-159714-368-4 Temporarily Out of Stock

Game Changers: Twelve Elections That Transformed California

Regional Nonfiction Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards The latest CHS Book Award winner examines California’s history through the prism of twelve elections that forever changed the state. Drawing from a wealth of primary sources, including new interviews conducted by the authors, each chapter explores one election (Leland Stanford’s gubernatorial race, the initiative that mandated […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-320-2
Price: $20.00

General Vallejo and the Advent of the Americans

General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo was one of California’s most distinguished citizens in the mid-nineteenth century. A frontier cosmopolitan and visionary, Vallejo owned vast ranchos in northern California and wielded enormous political power throughout the province. While serving as military governor during Mexican rule, he established an open immigration policy that encouraged and facilitated the American […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-19-5
Price: $18.95

Gold Rush Stories: 49 Tales of Seekers, Scoundrels, Loss, and Luck

This volume explores the deeply human stories of the California Gold Rush generation, drawing out all the brutality, tragedy, humor, and prosperity as lived by those who experienced it. In less than ten years, more than 300,000 people made the journey to California, some from as far away as Chile and China. Many of them […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-384-4     available May 2017

Grave Matters: Excavating California’s Buried Past

Whether by curious Boy Scouts and “backyard archaeologists” or competitive collectors and knowledge-hungry anthropologists, the excavation of native remains is a time-honored practice fraught with injustice and simmering resentments. Grave Matters is the history of the treatment of native remains in California and the story of the complicated relationship between researcher and researched. Tony Platt […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-162-8
Price: $20.00

The Harvest Gypsies: On the Road to the Grapes of Wrath

Gathered in this important volume are seven newspaper articles on migrant farm workers that John Steinbeck wrote for The San Francisco News in 1936, three years before The Grapes of Wrath. With the inquisitiveness of an investigative reporter and the emotional power of a novelist in his prime, Steinbeck toured the squatters’ camps and Hoovervilles […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-61-4
Price: $10.00

High Spirits: The Legacy Bars of San Francisco

Community, heritage, architecture—oh yes, and stiff pours: these are the hallmarks of San Francisco’s Legacy Bars. High Spirits leads readers on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood pub crawl in search of the city’s most remarkable nightspots. Atmospheric photographs accompany descriptions of each bar’s colorful history, unique architectural features, idiosyncratic owners, and quirky clientele. As we dip into one […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-312-7
Price: $18.00

The Journey of the Flame

On the night of his 104th birthday, Don Juan Obrigón—tall and straight, with hair still flaming red—prepares to tell his life story to assembled relatives and guests. The story he will tell describes his travels as a boy of twelve in 1810, when he accompanied the Spanish viceroy of Baja California from the southern tip […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-58-4
Price: $14.95

King Sequoia: The Tree That Inspired a Nation, Created Our National Park System, and Changed the Way We Think about Nature

From a towering tree, one of California’s preeminent naturalists unspools a history that echoes across generations and continents. Former park ranger William C. Tweed takes readers on a tour of the Big Trees in a narrative that travels deep into the Sierras, around the West, and all the way to New Zealand; and in doing […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-351-6
Price: $18.00

LAtitudes: An Angeleno’s Atlas

Anthology Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards This literary and cartographic exploration of Los Angeles reorients our understanding of the city in highly imaginative ways. Illuminated by boldly conceived and artfully rendered maps and infographics, nineteen essays by LA’s most exciting writers reveal complex histories and perspectives of a place notorious for superficiality. This chorus […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-297-7
Price: $30.00

Life in a California Mission: Monterey in 1786

On the afternoon of September 14, 1786, two French ships appeared off the coast of Monterey, the first foreign vessels to visit Spain’s California colonies. Aboard was a party of eminent scientists, navigators, cartographers, illustrators, and physicians. For the next ten days the commander of this expedition, Jean Francois de La Pérouse, took detailed notes […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-0-930588-39-7
Price: $12.00

Literary Industries: Chasing a Vanishing West

A bookseller in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832–1918) rose to become the man who would define the early history of California and the West. Creating what he called a “history factory,” he assembled a vast library of over sixty thousand books, maps, letters, and documents; hired scribes to copy material […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-248-9
Price: $18.00

Lost Worlds of the San Francisco Bay Area

In this coffee table book of luminous essays accompanied by an array of images, award-winning writer Sylvia Linsteadt brings to life the many microcosms that once flourished in the San Francisco Bay Area: from the farthest reach of the Russian Empire at Fort Ross, to acres upon acres of apricot blossoms in what is now […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-59714-391-2
Price: $30.00

Making Home from War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement

Many books have chronicled the experience of Japanese Americans in the early days of World War II, when over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry, two-thirds of whom were American citizens, were taken from their homes along the West Coast and imprisoned in concentration camps. When they were finally allowed to leave, a new challenge faced […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-142-0
Price: $18.95

The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis

As the Statue of Liberty stood unlit and unloved by American politicians in 1886, one of her saviors was creating a theatrical sensation at New York’s Fourteenth Street Theatre. Actor M. B. Curtis, who had achieved overnight success in Sam’l of Posen, a groundbreaking play that transcended the common stereotypes of Jewish characters current at […]

Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0967820453     available April 2017

Many Worlds: Native Life along the Anza Trail

In 1775, Spain sent the Anza expedition to explore and settle California, its “new” territory. But California was not new to the hundreds of thousands of native people who had lived here for millennia. Many Worlds provides young people with an engaging and informative window into the California Indian world. Read Ajachemem star-myths, guide a […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-167-3
Price: $7.95

No Rooms of Their Own: Women Writers of Early California, 1849-1869

In the wild, isolated Western frontier, where laws, traditions, and living conditions were like nowhere else in America, it was a bold act for a woman to write and to seek publication. Dame Shirley, Ina Coolbrith, and Mary Hallock Foote never achieved the fame and success of Mark Twain or Bret Harte, but they were […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-01-0
Price: $18.00

Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience

In the wake of wartime panic that followed the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans residing along the West Coast of the United States were uprooted from their homes and their communities and banished to internment camps throughout the country. Through personal documents, art, and propaganda, Only What We Could Carry […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-30-0
Price: $24.00

The Port Chicago Mutiny

During World War II, Port Chicago was a segregated naval munitions base on the outer shores of San Francisco Bay. Black seamen were required to load ammunition onto ships bound for the South Pacific under the watch of their white officers—an incredibly dangerous and physically challenging task. On July 17, 1944, an explosion rocked the […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-028-7
Price: $16.95

A Queen’s Journey

There are few more intriguing and captivating characters in the history of Hawaii than its last queen, Liliuokalani—the island monarch who could just as easily read Shakespeare as “sit barefooted on a woven mat.” Told with mesmerizing detail by master storyteller James D. Houston, A Queen’s Journey captures the deep ambiguities of Liliuokalani’s magnetic personality and […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-163-5
Price: $14.95

The Shirley Letters: From the California Mines, 1851-1852

The Shirley Letters, written from the mining camps in 1851 and 1852, are something valuable and rare—a portrait by a woman of an era dominated by men. They offer a vivid picture of gold rush life, from accounts of “murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, a mob, whippings, a hanging, an attempt at suicide, and a […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-00-3
Price: $13.95

A Short History of San Francisco

This is the story of San Francisco, a unique and rowdy tale with a legendary cast of characters. It tells of the Indians and the Spanish missions, the arrival of thousands of gold seekers and gamblers, crackbrains and dreamers, the building of the transcontinental railroad and the cable car, labor strife and political shenanigans, the […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-273-1
Price: $18.00

Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues

The Sierra Nevada, with its 14,000-foot granite mountains, crystalline lakes, conifer forests, and hidden valleys, has long been the domain of dreams, attracting the heroic and the delusional, the best of humanity and the worst. Stories abound, and characters emerge so outlandish and outrageous that they have to be real. Could the human imagination have […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-265-6
Price: $17.00

So Far from Home: Russians in Early California

Two hundred years ago members of the Russian American Company established Fort Ross on the desolate but plentiful shores of California, nintey miles north of San Francisco. Drawn to the area by its abundant sea otter, these new residents made a home here, raising wheat to send to their starving Alaskan colonies and trading with […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-184-0
Price: $21.95

A State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California

Vernal pools, protected lagoons, grassy hills rich in bunchgrasses and, where the San Francisco Bay is today, ancient bison and mammoths roaming a vast grassland. Through the use of historical ecology, Laura Cunningham walks through these forgotten landscapes to uncover secrets about the past, explore what our future will hold, and experience the ever-changing landscape […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-306-6
Price: $35.00

Tahoe beneath the Surface: The Hidden Stories of America’s Largest Mountain Lake

Lake Tahoe transformed America, and not just once but many times over—from the earliest Ice Age civilizations to the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe. It even played a hidden role in the American conquest of California, the launch of the Republican Party, and the birth of John Steinbeck’s first novel. Along the way, Lake Tahoe […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-139-0
Price: $17.00

Take Me to the River: Fishing, Swimming, and Dreaming on the San Joaquin

For ten years, Coke Hallowell and her daughter Joell asked people with deep connections to the San Joaquin, “What was your life like along the river?” With candor and enthusiasm, people responded. Fishermen, miners, immigrants, Native Americans, hunters, farmers, and environmentalists all clamored to be heard. The result is Take Me to the River—a collection […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-143-7
Price: $21.95

Trees in Paradise: The Botanical Conquest of California

Winner of the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award, Forest History Society Winner of the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Book Prize, Foundation for Landscape Studies Finalist, Spur Award for Nonfiction Contemporary, Western Writers of America At the intersection of plants and politics, Trees in Paradise is an examination of ecological mythmaking and conquest. The first Americans who looked […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-392-9
Price: $25.00

Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War II

It is a little-known fact that in California during World War II, Italian Americans were subjected to an 8pm to 6am curfew, searches of their homes, seizure of their property, and exclusion from prohibited zones along the coast. In a collection of essays, Una Storia Segreta brings together the voices of the Italian American community […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-890771-40-9 Temporarily Out of Stock

Under Spring: Voices + Art + Los Angeles

The winner of the first CHS Book Award reimagines what a history book can be, and it tells a story all California needs to hear in order to understand itself. Beneath Los Angeles’s North Spring Street bridge, a deteriorated concrete landscape was used for years as a homeless encampment and a buffer zone between gang territories. […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-295-3
Price: $20.00

Vintage: California Wine Labels of the 1930s

Two new books, Vintage: California Wine Labels of the 1930s and Well Aged: California Whiskey and Spirits Labels of the 1930s, illuminate a near-forgotten artisanal legacy tucked among the archives of the California Historical Society’s Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing. In the midst of the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of bottles of […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-349-3
Price: $20.00

Well Aged: California Whiskey and Spirits Labels of the 1930s

Two new books, Vintage: California Wine Labels of the 1930s and Well Aged: California Whiskey and Spirits Labels of the 1930s, illuminate a near-forgotten artisanal legacy tucked among the archives of the California Historical Society’s Kemble Collections on Western Printing and Publishing. In the midst of the Great Depression, hundreds of thousands of bottles of […]

Paperback, with flaps, ISBN: 978-1-59714-350-9
Price: $20.00

Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California

Wherever There’s a Fight captures the sweeping story of how freedom and equality have grown in California, from the gold rush right up to the precarious post-9/11 era. The book tells the stories of the brave individuals who have stood up for their rights in the face of social hostility, physical violence, economic hardship, and […]

Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-59714-114-7
Price: $25.00