Monday, September 30, 2013

Haunt History Park is Not Scary

San José, CA – September 30, 2013 --- What’s scary about Halloween? Have no fear at Haunt History Park, on Saturday, October 26 from 1 to 4 p.m. Children will be able to trick-or-treat throughout San José’s History Park at Kelley Park in a fun, safe, family-friendly environment.

This scare-free annual event has become a tradition, with trick-or-treating, family-friendly events and arts and crafts activities. Trolley and hand car rides, games and crafts, will provide family festivities.

“This year the entire family can celebrate this historic holiday in a fun yet old-fashioned Halloween atmosphere,” said Barbara Johnston, Director of Education at History San José. “There will be plenty of activities for all ages.”

Trick-or-treating stations will be set up at the historic homes in History Park and are sponsored by the History San José Education Department, History San José docents and History San José’s affiliates.

There will be games around the plaza along with Halloween crafts. The Costume Parade will be around the Plaza at 2:30 p.m. and the ‘wrap-a-mummy’ contest will take place on the Plaza at 3:30 p.m.

Speaking of treats, the tradition of trick-or-treating is very well known for handing out sweets. Dead Dog Hotdogs will be on hand, and popcorn is available for purchase. O’Brien’s Ice Cream Parlor at History Park serves San José’s own Treat ice cream. Treat Ice Cream Company has been in business in San José since 1951 and produces gourmet ice creams, sherbets, and sorbets.

Admission is only $5 for children age 3 and over; adults free with a child. For more information, visit or call 408 918 1047.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dig Into the Past at History Archaeology Days

San José, CA – September 22, 2013. On Saturday, October 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM --- Archaeology Day at the Peralta Adobe at San Pedro Square Market will offer children an opportunity to be junior archaeologists.

Stanford Archaeology Center students will be at the Peralta Adobe historic site conducting a mock excavation, screening, artifact identification and artifact reconstruction.

"This program gives Stanford students a chance to share our research," said Barbara Voss, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. “The hidden history of San José's early Chinatowns is not well known, and it's exciting to give our youngest residents a chance to learn about archaeology and about the legacy of San José's 19th century Chinese pioneers."

This free family educational program will allow individuals to collect stickers for each activity to place in Archaeology Passports and become 'certified' as a Junior Archaeologist.

The oldest home in San Jose, the Peralta Adobe, serves as a perfect archaeological location. It is the centerpiece for San Pedro Square Market at 175 West Saint John Street in downtown San Jose. It is just across the street from the Fallon House, a mid-19th century Victorian home.

The public archaeology activities are free. While at the Peralta Adobe, visitors can also take tours of the Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House, which are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors (62 and older) and students with a valid school identification card; and $5 for children who are accompanied by an adult.

Tours for adults and children ages nine and older will be held through the Peralta Adobe and the Fallon House at 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. These historic buildings are not wheel-chair accessible. As usual, members of History San José receive free admission.

The Fallon House was built in 1855 by one of San José's earliest mayors. The Victorian mansion showcases 15 fully-furnished rooms typical of the Victorian period. Thomas Fallon was a frontiersman in the John C. Fremont expedition, and Carmel Fallon was the daughter of one of the most prominent Mexican landowners in California.

The Peralta Adobe is San José's oldest address. Built in 1797, the Peralta Adobe is the last remaining structure from El Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe. See the Adobe’s horno, an outside working oven, or venture inside the home and see two rooms furnished as they might have been when they were occupied by the Gonzales and Peralta families. It is now surrounded by the new San Pedro Square Market.

For more information or to make reservations for a tour, call 408.918.1047 or visit

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

History San José to Host Yard Sale in the Park October 13

Free Admission to History Park Sunday, October 13, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

San Jose, CA – September 16, 2013 --- Everybody loves a good bargain. And where else would one find a good book but at a museum? On Sunday, October 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., History San José will host a park-wide yard sale. But the best bargain at the Yard Sale in the Park is free admission to History Park.

The public is invited to host their own table and sell their wares. Booths of used lamps, grandma’s china, toys, and anything else taking up space at home, can be sold. Booths of wares will be positioned inside the park. Proceeds from the Yard Sale in the Park will benefit all nineteen affiliates that call History Park their home.

"History Park is a great venue for a ‘yard’ sale because we have a 14-acre ‘yard’ --- said Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José. “The Yard Sale in the Park offers a sense of community, helping each other out, and just having fun. And it is better than a garage sale, a block sale, or sitting in your own driveway."

There will be an HSJ book booth, offering duplicate and deaccessioned books for sale, as well as an assortment of other items.

Registration must be received by October 11; booths for non-members are $20 each; booths for members and affiliates of HSJ are free. Entrants must register to sell, and provide their own equipment, tables, chairs, canopies, etc. Register by contacting Juanita at or calling 408 918-1045.

Memberships are available from $50 by contacting Dayna Grabkelis at or 408-918-1049.

For more information call 408 287-2290 or visit

Monday, September 16, 2013

History San José Honors Volunteers at Annual Dinner

San Jose, CA - September 13, 2013 - Each year, History San José hosts a dinner at History Park to honor the dedicated volunteers who help keep HSJ running. Last week HSJ honored those volunteers.

"At the dinner, the staff wait on the volunteers and try to show them how much we appreciate their help seven days a week! We absolutely could not operate the Museum without them," enthused Alida Bray, President and CEO of History San José.

The Volunteer Recognition Dinner, held on Thursday, September 12 at History Park, brings together volunteers from every service area: retail and events, collections and archives, education and outreach, gardening and facilities -- even window washing!

Many of the volunteers contribute their time in more than one area of service. Many have been instrumental in developing new programs and activities for our visitors.

"All of the volunteers’ contributions – large and small – make it possible for History San José to preserve the Valley’s history and bring it to the public," added Bray. "They are our unsung heroes and appreciated more than they know." 

This year the following volunteers are being saluted by HSJ for their many years of service:
  • 35 years of service to HSJ: Nancy Martin, Education and Portraits of the Past (POP); 
  • 30 years of service: Ida Raby, and Darlean Slack, Retail; Dave Robison, Printer; 
  • 25 years of service: Judy Borcherding, Education; Mike Brownlee, POP and Trolley Barn; Nancy Peters, POP;
  • 20 years of service: JoAnn Renk, education; Barbara Shaeffer, Collections; Jack Stallard, Trolley Barn; 
  • 15 years of service: Martha Champion, Education, POP; 
  • 10 years of service: Steve Demkowski, Education, Bee-keeping; Stuart Hansen, Collections; Will Jensby, Collections; and Joan Shepley, Education;
  • 5 years of service: Becky Barber, Printer; Larry Larson, Trolley Barn; and Ray Paik, Collections.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Recent Acquisitions and Online Guides at HSJ’s Research Library & Archives

The staff at History San Jose's Research Library and Archives have been busy over the summer months processing new donations, and making guides available online to parts of our collection that have been hidden to most researchers. Here is a summary...

Recent acquisitions:

  • Tapestry in Talent records (10 linear feet). Institutional records from a major annual arts festival held in San Jose. Begun as a project to celebrate the nation's Bicentennial in 1976, Tapestry in Talent eventually drew as many as 250,000 attendees over the course of a single weekend. Eventually decreased funding forced the group to cease sponsoring the event in 2011. The collection includes organizational records, promotional materials, photographs, press clippings, and related documents.
  • Shirlie Montgomery Papers and Photographs (4 linear feet). Montgomery was a well-known press photographer in San Jose, noted particularly for her candid photographs of the local wrestling scene as well as many important news events.
  • IBM RAMAC Collection: Between 1952 and 1956, IBM developed the first magnetic disk file system at its facility on Hedding Street near downtown San Jose. By the time production ended in 1961, over 1000 RAMAC (Random Access Memory Accounting System) machines had been produced, each weighing more than a ton, and with a capacity of 5 megabytes. The RAMAC collection consists of posters documenting RAMAC's development that were displayed in the IBM facility prior to its closing. Also included in the gift are a control panel and vacuum tube and a partial disk from the RAMAC machine.
  • KTAO Radio Collection: KTAO Radio was an "alternative" radio station with a studio in Los Gatos. It was on the air for about five years in the early 1970s. The latest accrual to this collection consists of program guides, a CD of a broadcast air check, and photographs of broadcast and technical staff and of a recent 40th anniversary celebration of the station's staff.

Newly available online collection guides:

  • Kasia Ekstrand Photographs of San Jose (2002): Photographic prints and negatives documenting the storefronts and streets of downtown San Jose, California, taken by Kasia Ekstrand in 2002.
  • Benjamin F. Gilbert Papers (1940-1985): Research materials focusing on local history by San Jose State University professor Dr. Benjamin F. Gilbert.
  • Pacific Neighbors Inc. Records (1957-1967): Records and photographs of San Jose's Pacific Neighbors Sister City Program, primarily related to activities with sister cities Okayama, Japan, and San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Donald B. Harris Spiritron Tube Research (1956-1959): Notebooks, patent invention disclosure files, patent photographs, and other assorted papers related to Donald B. Harris's work on the Spiratron tube at General Electric Company. Part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics.
  • Esther Walker Papers (1958-1984): Personal papers and photographs of San Jose Mercury journalist Esther Walker, including expense account records, correspondence, news copy, research notes, clippings, and publicity photographs of fashion designers circa 1978-1980.
  • Soroptimist International of San Jose Records (1925-1987): Includes the membership rosters, by-laws, programs of activities, event programs, newsletters, minutes, scrapbooks, photograph albums, and other assorted records of the Soroptimist Club of San Jose, also known as Soroptimist International of San Jose.
  • Budde Family Papers and Photographs (1880-1980): Personal correspondence, travel journals, and family photographs of the Budde family of San Jose.
  • William Harrison Photographic Collection (1893-1900): Collection of portrait photographs by local San Jose, California, studios; portraits of State Normal School at San Jose graduates; a family photograph album including scenes from Yosemite National Park; personal photographs taken at Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
  • San Jose-Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant Records (1946-1990): Records of the San Jose/Santa Clara Water Pollution Control Plant in Alviso, California, including documentation regarding the transfer of Zanker House to History Park in San Jose, California.
  • Harry Farrell Papers (1940-1997): Material accumulated by author and journalist Harry Farrell during his research for books Shallow Grave in Trinity County (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997) and Swift Justice: Murder and Vengeance in a California Town (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992) as well as personal correspondence and mementos from service during World War II.
  • Fredrick W. Hill Photographs (1892): Digital images and original negatives of the stagecoaches on Mount Hamilton, Lick Observatory telescope and buildings, and the Hotel Vendome (San Jose, California), taken by Fredrick W. Hill in 1892.
  • Hayes Family Collection (1946-1990): Assorted scrapbooks, research material, preservation records, manuscripts and television programs related to Mary Hayes Chynoweth, the Hayes Family, and Hayes Mansion in San Jose.
  • Pathfinders Club of San Jose Records (1926-1963): Club records and photographs documenting the women's group Pathfinders Club of San Jose, especially outdoor recreational outings around the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • San Jose Planning Commission Aerial Photographs (1967-1977): Aerial photographs of road intersections and neighborhoods in San Jose, California, taken by the San Jose Planning Commission.
  • Douglas M. Perham Clippings on Early Radio History (1900-1930): Newspaper clippings compiled by early electronics collector Doug Perham on the history of wireless telegraph and radio, with a focus on the U.S. Pacific Coast. Part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics.
  • Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings (1965-1980): Sound recordings created by Thorn Mayes as part of his research on early wireless telegraph and radio in the Western United States. Includes one-on-one interviews conducted by Thorn Mayes and Warren Green, talks to the Antique Wireless Association both by Mayes and by other speakers, recordings of historic radio broadcasts, and re-creations of spark transmissions at U.S. West Coast wireless stations.
  • In addition, Staff and volunteers have completed the indexing of nearly 23,000 case files from the Santa Clara County Court system (Bulk dates 1850-1920). These files are searchable by plaintiff, defendant, date, complaint, or case number.

Collection-level guides and inventories are available through the Online Archive of California ( Item-level records are searchable through PastPerfect Online at For more information, or to make a research appointment, contact: Jim Reed, Curator of Library & Archives at or 408.521.5026.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Thorn Mayes' Interviews on Early Radio Now Transcribed

Thorn Mayes, born April 19, 1903, graduated from the University of California in 1927 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. He was an avid amateur radio operator, working W6AX, W9AX, 6BDQ, 6AX, K6BI, K2CE, and W1CX under the handle “Thorn.” His first 2-way wireless contact was in 1921, and he was member #229 of the Old Old Timers Club. After retiring from his managerial position at General Electric Company, Mayes became a serious collector of antique gear (prior to 1922), books and magazines, as well as an historian of early wireless in the United States. In his own words1,

"after spending about 38 years with the General Electric Company, I retired in 1963. The last 20 years with the company was in the East, so in ‘63 we moved back to California and I set up my machine shop, electronics laboratory, and became interested in recreating the history of the three main, early, commercial wireless stations on the West Coast. KPH, which I think is by far the most important of all; KFS who was a competitor, and NPG, which is sometimes called the NAA of the West Coast because of the similarity in transmission equipment used at NPG and also at NAA."

Mayes published numerous papers in the amateur radio press, as well as several publications, including:
  • The Federal Telegraph Company, 1909-1920 ([Rochester, N.Y] : Antique Wireless Association, c1979)
  • Brief history of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America: 1899-1919 (1972)
  • Wireless communication in the United States : the early development of American radio operating companies, prepared for publication by Arthur C. Goodnow, Robert W. and Nancy A. Merriam (East Greenwich, R.I. : New England Wireless and Steam Museum, c1989).
Mayes was able to draw on his many friends and contacts within the amateur radio and electronics community for his research. As part of his work, he recorded a large number of interviews with names familiar to students of early electronics, particularly in the Western United States, including Ralph Heintz, Haraden Pratt, Richard Johnstone, and Robert Palmer. Mayes also recorded many of his talks at amateur radio associations. These recordings are part of the Perham Collection of Early Electronics, and the majority of these interviews and talks have been transcribed by History San Jose. A full list of recordings is available below, and copies of transcripts can be requested through the Curator of Library and Archives (

List of Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings

More about the Perham Collection of Early Electronics

1Interview of Thorn Mayes by Ray Meyers, January 20, 1968 (Thorn Mayes Sound Recordings, 2003-38, History San Jose Research Library & Archives)