Tattooed & Tenacious: Inked Women in California’s History

March 20 – December 31, 2016
McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House, History Park

Missed the exhibit? Visit it online!

Today, more women than men have tattoos. But what about the first California women to get tattooed? Who were they, and why did they get inked? Discover the fascinating and largely unknown history of the the foremothers of modern tattooing prior to WWII.

Curator Amy Cohen originally created this exhibit at the Hayward Area Historical Society, exploring not only Native American women’s tattoos as an important rite of passage, but upper-class women who started the tattooing trend, working-class Tattooed Ladies who graced the stages of circus sideshows, and some of the first female tattoo artists in California. History San Jose is pleased to present Cohen’s original vision, with additional material featuring artwork and stories from local Santa Clara Valley contemporary tattoo artists and clients.

The Wireless Age Exhibit visits the Googleplex

A smaller version of our recent exhibit at History Park The Wireless Age: Electronics Entrepreneurs Before Silicon Valley is now on view in the Building 43 lobby at Google’s Mountain View headquarters through January 2017, made available through Google’s GoArt program.

The GoArt program is run by Google employees who volunteer their time to manage exhibit spaces throughout Google’s offices worldwide. The Building 43 lobby is a perfect space to showcase the Perham Collection’s Bay Area electronics and introduce it to a new generation of technology innovators.

Curated by Cate Mills, History San Jose’s Curator of Library & Archives — with advice from HSJ’s community curators, and prepared by HSJ’s Exhibit Coordinator Daniel Charm, the exhibit features rare artifacts including early radio equipment by Lee de Forest, de Forest’s Audion tube, Otis Moorhead and Elmer Cunningham tubes manufactured in San Francisco, the Poulsen arc brought back from Denmark by Cyril Elwell, and Philo Farnsworth’s experimental amplification tubes and image dissector.

For photos of the exhibit, visit

Slugs, Dingbats & Tramp Printers! Printing in Santa Clara Valley

April – December 2015

History San José is proud to present the exhibition Slugs, Dingbats, & Tramp Printers! Printing in Santa Clara Valley, opening April 2015, in partnership with the San Jose Printer’s Guild.

Printing from moveable type was first introduced into Northern California around 1825 by Agustin V. Zamorano, then a government official in Monterey. In 1834 the soldier-printer replaced a small “seal press” (whose wood block type could print only 100 words at a time) with a Philadelphia-made Ramage Press and a small quantity of old metal type. When he set up California’s first press operation, advertising his service to the public with a printed circular, Zamorano began a long and vibrant tradition of California printing. That same press would be used to print California’s first newspaper, The Californian, in 1846.

The printing press played a key role in American society. The press was a bulwark to an informed and politically active public, and printers were vital to the routines of government. This was no less true in San Jose and surrounding communities, as San Jose hosted Gold Rush California’s first state legislature, and then blossomed as the center of a vibrant agricultural and business community.

In addition to the area’s many weekly and daily newspapers, newspaper offices often served as “job printers,” creating the letterheads, invoice forms, advertising cards, and other commercial documents needed by local businesses. They also helped advertise San Jose’s growing array of commercial and cultural activities, including the area’s lively music, theater and vaudeville entertainment venues.

The 19th and 20th centuries saw many significant developments in printing technology: chromolithography, the rotary press, the linotype, the typewriter, mimeographs, photocopiers, computerized typesetting, and inkjet, dot matrix, and laser printing. While many of these technologies originated elsewhere, they were rapidly adopted by local printing firms, and are represented in the exhibit with artifacts and printing output.

Silicon Valley itself became an important player in printing technology advancements. For example, the process of laser printing was developed in Palo Alto’s Xerox Parc in 1970. More recently, San Jose’s Adobe Systems introduced Adobe Postscript, whose fonts have become industry standards.

Visitors will learn the fascinating stories of these people and companies through photographs and historic printed documents, as well as the presses, tools, and equipment used locally over the past century and a half. They will also be introduced to the art and skill of printing through demonstrations and videos.

Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado (1914 – 1976)

History San José Presents Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado (1914 – 1976)

July 14, 2012 – January 6, 2013
Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel, History Park

A special Members & VIP Reception will be held from 5:30 – 8:30 on July 25 at the Pacific Hotel Gallery, with music featuring Steve Monteclaro  & Friends.
Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvaradox (1914 – 1976) is a collection of 50 photographs chosen from more than 3,000 discovered by his daughter, Janet Alvarado after his death. This exhibit offers a rare view into the daily life of the Filipino American community in the post-World War II era in the Bay Area.

“It is such an honor for History San José to offer the South Bay premiere of this photography exhibit, Through My Father’s Eyes,” says Alida Bray, President & CEO of History San José. “Mr. Alvarado’s perspective has kept alive the Filipino American experience in the Bay Area.”

Ricardo Alvarado emigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1928, part of the early 20th-century wave of immigrants known as the ‘Manong Generation,’ meaning ‘older brother’ in the Ilocano language. He served in the Pacific Theater with the U.S. Army’s First Filipino regiment during World War II. When the war ended, Alvarado supported his passion for photography by working as a civilian cook at San Francisco’s Letterman Hospital in the Presidio.  For more than 20 years following the war, Alvarado documented postwar Filipino American life. His poignant photographs capture every aspect of day-to-day activities, public and private.

“We are proud to partner with History San Jose,” said Janet Alvarado. “My father would be pleased to know that his life’s work is being shared with members of all communities.” Alvarado’s photography was more than a hobby. He photographed weddings, funerals, baptisms, and parties. His ‘view camera,’ a Speed Graphic, documented street scenes, beauty pageants, cock fights, agricultural workers tending crops, and entrepreneurs on the job. His daughter Janet, now the Executive Director of The Alvarado Project, created the nationally recognized nonprofit devoted to her father’s photos demonstrating the Filipino American cultural history. “My father’s collection tells a million stories,” added Alvarado.

“I am excited that a new audience and generation will have the opportunity to view a beautiful exhibit of photos that truly captures the Filipino American experience,” states Ron P. Muriera, Administrator for the FANHS Santa Clara Valley Chapter.

Silicon Valley Bikes: Passion, Innovation & Politics Since 1880

Silicon Valley Bikes: Passion, Innovation & Politics Since 1880

July 2014 – July 2015
Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel

Garden City Wheelmen, 1919

Garden City Wheelmen, photographed in San José at the October 1919 relay against the Sanson Wheelmen of Stockton (History San José Collection)

For almost 150 years Santa Clara Valley residents have formed cycling clubs to socialize and to race; they have improved bicycles, modified them to suit their needs and styles, and have used bicycles to help the needy and to build community.

Known as the birthplace of innovation for personal computers, networking and the internet, this region is also the birthplace of bicycling innovation. Bicycles, helmets and accessories with the Avocet, Blackburn, Bontrager, Giro, Klein, Ritchey and Specialized brands were founded by Santa Clara Valley cyclists.

Silicon Valley Bikes! Passion, Innovation & Politics Since 1880 features images and artifacts from History San José’s collection, and objects from private individuals and organizations. From the 1842 Lefebvre velocipede, the world’s oldest human-powered vehicle, to the latest fixie, Silicon Valley Bikes! Passion, Innovation & Politics showcases the Silicon Valley’s rich bicycling culture and history.

Missed the exhibit? We’ve got images here.

The following sponsors helped to make this exhibit possible:

Garden City Construction
Wheel Away Cycle Center
Bicycle Express
San Jose Bicycle Club
Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club Inc.
Ampersand Ellipsis Jones LLC
Hellyer Velodrome

Shirlie Montgomery: Picturing San José Since 1938

McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House
April 14 – December 14, 2014

The online version of this exhibit has been created in conjunction with Google Cultural Institute. Click to view.

Shirlie Montgomery led a colorful life. Her love of photography, sports, and journalistic photography lent her a unique eye on history. Born on Chapman Street in San José in 1918, she was the only child of Rea Montgomery. Her dad, an avid sportsman, passed along his love of boxing and wrestling matches. Montgomery was the great niece of T. S. Montgomery, a local realtor and developer, who donated the land to the city where the Civic Auditorium stands today.

As a professional photographer, Montgomery pointed her 4×5 Speed Graphic camera on behalf of the San José Mercury, the San Francisco Examiner, freelancing, even working events for Lou’s Village. Through her career she met celebrities, politicians, and professional wrestlers.

She passed away in 2012, leaving thousands of photographs from her collection, most of which are in the Collection Center of History San José. This exhibit will be augmented by photos from private collectors, personal items owned by Shirlie, and other ephemera of old San José.

Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future

History San José Presents “Shaped by Water: Past, Present, Future”

February 12 through September 8, 2013
Arbuckle Gallery at the Pacific Hotel

A special Members & VIP Reception will be held from 2:00 – 4:00 pm on February 10th at the Pacific Hotel Gallery.

Boating on San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA, c. 1911, History San Jose Collection

Boating on San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA, c. 1911, History San Jose Collection

Created by the Los Altos History Museum, this multi-faceted exhibit Shaped by Water: Past, Present & Future inspires a deep connection to this precious and essential resource. The story of water in this region is told from a historical perspective, beginning with the indigenous Ohlone people up to modern day, through a comprehensive and interactive exhibition experience. The exhibition outlines future challenges and outcomes with concrete ideas to reduce consumption, reuse and recycle water. History San José has added San José artifacts from the permanent collection to this traveling exhibit.

Shaped by Water underscores how each period in our local history has been characterized by a changing relationship between humans and water.

Experience and learn about the unique connection to our precious and finite water—past, present and future. Through photographs, artistic interpretations, stories, and interactive activities for kids of all ages, visitors will leave with a greater understanding of the role water plays in our lives—and with resources and ideas for conservation and action!

Local sponsorship generously provided by Mrs. John Luckhardt, Robinson & Wood Inc., Attorney’s at Law, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and the San Jose Water Company.

The 5th Anniversary of the Leonard and David McKay Gallery

Celebrating Local Artists: The 5th Anniversary of the Leonard and David McKay Gallery

McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House, History Park

Local Artists Exhibit

A.D.M. Cooper Paintings and Drawings

Leonard McKay, founder of Smith-McKay Printing, was a Rotary President, member of the Pioneers of Santa Clara County, historian, and general rascal. He was also an art collector. He recognized the importance of collecting and celebrating local artists, not only for their artistic contribution, but also for the valuable role artists play in creating a visual historic record of the Valley. “Celebrating Local Artists” features well-known local artists Andrew P. Hill, Charles Harmon, Vida McCraken, and A. D. M. Cooper. In addition to bucolic landscapes, never-before-seen drawings from Cooper’s childhood and young adulthood are on display.

The Pasetta House was moved to History Park in 1985. In 2004, thanks to a generous gift from the Pasetta family, restoration of the house began, and the building was dedicated in 2005. Leonard McKay was instrumental in planning this space as a gallery with climate control and lighting that would meet museum standards suitable for exhibiting art and artifacts. This generosity has afforded History San José the opportunity to host multiple exhibits and to display countless works from its collection. History San José wishes to thank these families for their significant and permanent contribution to History Park and to the community.

City of Champions: 2001, A San José Soccer Odyssey

City of Champions: 2001, A San José Soccer Odyssey

September 2011 – April 2012
San José City Hall

1st Floor Wing
200 East Santa Clara Street
San Jose, California

Soccer in San Jose

Credit: Mark Gray, 2011, Oil on canvas

Pro soccer in San José has a rich if unheralded history. In 2001, at the dawn of the new millenium, San José was for a shining moment the epicenter of America’s edition of the world’s favorite sport. San José boasted the most accomplished teams and the most celebrated players in the land. Never before or since has a single American community held at the same time both men’s and women’s pro trophies or been more deserving of the mantle, “City of Champions.” History San José’s exhibit commemorated the tenth anniversary of this enchanted moment in our sports history.

The exhibit’s primary sponsor was SSVCF, an all-volunteer charity comprised of San José Earthquakes fans with a variety of initiatives dedicated to building community through soccer. In the three years leading up to the exhibit, Quakes fans, working through SSVCF, donated thousands of artifacts – many rare and unique – to History San José, volunteered countless hours at the museum collection center cataloguing and photographing them, and raised tens of thousands of dollars to underwrite this exhibit and a future permanent display in the anticipated Earthquakes stadium at the former FMC site by the airport.

Brandi Chastain, who serves on SSVCF’s advisory board, loaned for the exhibit her sports bra, first revealed when she removed her jersey after scoring the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup final. Also on display was Chastain’s game-worn jersey from when she starred for the Bay Area CyberRays women’s pro team, which won the national WUSA championship in 2001 while playing home games at San José’s Spartan Stadium.

Spartan Stadium was also the site of the first ever game in Major League Soccer (MLS) history, won by San José. The first ball ever kicked in that game was on display along with the jersey won by Eric Wynalda while scoring the league’s first ever goal. Among other unique items, the MLS trophy won by the San José Earthquakes in 2001 was seen along with the jersey worn and medal won by Quakes rookie Landon Donovan, perhaps the greatest male soccer player ever produced in the United States.

Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly

Bear In Mind: The Story of the California Grizzly

May 25th through December 15th, 2013
McKay Gallery at the Pasetta House, History Park

1997-209-9 cropOver the centuries, the relationship that Californians have had with the grizzly bear is one of dualities, expressed in fear and fascination. Although now extinct in the state, the grizzly has long been a central character in California’s history. Illuminating the story of the grizzly bear, this exhibition will run at History Park through December, 2013.

It is through exhibits and artifacts, some from the collection of History San José, that Bear in Mind provides an in-depth look at the history and science of one of California’s most revered and feared animals.

The exhibition is produced and toured by Exhibit Envoy and was developed in concert with The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley and Heyday Books, and supported by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation with additional funds from Bank of the West.

Special for Members: Preview reception for the Exhibit Sunday, May 19th, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

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