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Bay Area Archives Host a Deeply Nerdy, History-Filled 'Crawl'

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Images from the California Historical Society and the Environmental Design Archives.

Happy Archives Month!

This Saturday, the California Historical Society and the Labor Archives and Research Center at SF State open their doors, 1–5pm for a different kind of showcase: a once-yearly “archives crawl.” And even though there’s only two stops on the crawl, each institution will play host to archivists and archives from a plethora of other local collections, including the GLBT Historical Society, SFMOMA, the Environmental Design Archives and SFSU’s Global Museum. In total, 12 archives are participating in the day’s events, showcasing a wide swath of San Francisco’s material history.

I know what you’re thinking. How does one “crawl” from the Stonestown neighborhood to the Yerba Buena neighborhood? The two host institutions sit squarely catty corner from each other on opposite sides of the city, over seven miles apart. (The good news is Muni’s M-line runs almost door to door.)

This year’s crawl is themed “The Histories of California in 10 Objects.” Fascinating objects abound. The Labor Archives folks show their Fred Dummatzen scrapbook, a personal look at the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge by a member of Laborer’s Union No. 261; one of ten men killed while working on the bridge in 1937. The Environmental Design Archives brings designs that shaped the physical look of the Bay Area, including BART stations, the Palace of Fine Arts and the Levi Strauss Building. The California State Library’s Sutro collection promises material pertaining to their namesake’s semi-public park, which also housed his pet monkeys.

Count on the archivists to bring their best stories and the most unexpected artifacts of little-known Bay Area history at this year’s crawl. BYO curiosity. –Sarah Hotchkiss

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