Into the Ruins: a review of Biblical Turkey by Mark Wilson

When I was 21 years old I took a formative trip to Turkey. My then boyfriend and I rented a car and drove from Istanbul to ancient Troy. From there, we hugged the coast down to Antalya on an unforgettable archaeological odyssey that spanned several weeks and explored the myriad culutures present in modern Turkey’s “ruin” landscape. Unfortunately, now that I am encumbered by a small child and all the craziness that comes with that, I am only able to indulge in armchair travel. I am still a rabid ruin freak, thus it was with gusto that I picked up Biblical Turkey: a guide to the Jewish and Christian sites of Asia Minor by biblical heritage scholar Mark Wilson. As the author states in his introduction, most people are unaware of the role Turkey...

Veni, vidi, vici: firsthand accounts from the land of gold

There’s nothing like first impressions Here are three I’ve read recently. California: Its Gold and its Inhabitants by Sir Henry Vere Huntley. Out of print but available online, courtesy of the Internet Archive. Sir Henry Vere Huntley (1795-1864) was a British naval officer who served in many exotic locales during his extensive service career. Described by the Dictionary of Canadian Biography as an “impetuous man, prone to direct and dramatic actions” Huntley led a life of energy, intrigue, and some profound screw ups.  During the thick of the California gold rush, he found himself in San Francisco as the gentleman representative of the Anglo California Gold Mining Company. Huntley’s stint in the far West was troubled from the start –...

Early Libraries on the Barbary Coast

Have you heard that Mel Gibson is preparing to write a television series set in San Francisco? In a recent article on Hoodline, the series “Barbary Coast” will be set in the Financial District, Chinatown and North Beach and based upon the book by Herbert Asbury with the same name. This book is indeed a page turner – filled with the brothels, gambling dens, saloons, hoodlums and prostitutes that will make up a good show à la Deadwood. There’s nothing about libraries in Asbury’s book however, which is irritating to this librarian/historian, because their role in San Francisco’s early days was fraught with politics, intrigue, and sometimes a bit of danger! Reading rooms, stocked with newspapers and books brought from the east, started cropping up in the City...

Before the P.P.I.E.: the Mechanics’ Institute and the development of San Francisco’s Fair Culture (1857-1899)

2015 was an incredible year for me and for the San Francisco Bay Area! The Mechanics’ Institute and myself participated in the Centennial Celebrations for the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915. I developed this talk as one of the events hosted by Mechanics’ Institute and it was so well received that I was invited to give it also to the Bancroft Library as a Roundtable Discussion, and for the Corral of Westerners. As always, my dear filmmaker is Mike Duckworth of Mike D Video. The following is the transcript or you can watch the videos! The Mechanics’ Institute hosted 31 exhibitions between the years of 1857 and 1899. These fairs were hugely important to the development of industry in California and supported local ingenuity. Each fair has its own...

A conversation with the University of Alberta about Mechanics’ Institutes of course!

I was cordially invited to offer my thoughts about the Mechanics’ Institute of San Francisco to the graduate class Foundations of Adult and Higher Education at the University of Alberta. Via Skype I delivered the following lecture last night. The audio file includes the Q& A. Thanks so much! Hi thank you for having me. I’m Taryn Edwards, I’m one of the 8 librarians on staff at the San Francisco Mechanics’ Institute. I’ve worked here 8 years and have spent the last four intensively analyzing our history – searching for themes and practices that we can capitalize upon today in order to chart a path forward. Let me tell you a bit about the circumstances surrounding our founding. The SF MI’s birth is closely tied to the aftermath of the California...