Ralph Gibson, Museums Administrator
At the Griffith Quarry Museum in Penryn we highlight 19th century Welsh Christmas traditions, something Wales-born Griffith Griffith would have been quite familiar with. At the Gold Rush Museum we have excerpts of letters and diaries that highlight what was happening on Christmas Day 1849 in the lives of four miners. At our Placer County Museum in the historic Courthouse we have our grand Christmas Tree beautifully decorated with gold ornaments by our staff and volunteers. We also have a community Christmas tree in the Treasury decorated with paper ornaments made by museum visitors.
This year we will add our DeWitt History Museum to the mix. We have an array of 1940s ornaments and lights and will dress the museum up as a war time Christmas celebration. So please stop by and visit one of our museums to get into the spirit of the holidays this year. The Museums will be fully decorated for the season the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in helping us decorate the tree in the historic Courthouse or the Bernhard Museum, please call Renee at 530-889-6500.
I hope all of you have a wonderful Holiday Season! The holiday season is a busy time for tours.
Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of Archives
This beautiful beaded and sequined flapper dress was recently donated to our collection. It was made in the 1920s which, according to American Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, was a time when “the parties were bigger, the pace was faster, the shows were broader, the buildings were higher, the morals were looser, and the liquor was cheaper.” It was also a time that saw a New Woman emerge who smoked, danced, dated and drank alcohol – she was the Flapper.
Flapper had her origins in the Gibson Girl of the 1890s, who played sports and attended college - activities traditionally reserved for men. Women’s roles were redefined forever by World War I, as they stepped in to fill jobs vacated by men fighting the war in Europe. Their new position gave women financial independence and a strong desire to part with the strict values of their Victorian relatives.
While not every woman was a flapper, by the mid-1920s the short skirt was in style outside the big cities and for women of all ages. To demonstrate their independence in the post-war period, the flappers took off their corsets and shortened their skirts, dropping the waistline to the hips and leaving the arms bare. The newer, simpler silhouette stressed slenderness and mobility, required for the Jazz Age dances like the Charleston and Shimmy.
It became much faster and easier for women to dress fashionably as mass production and the development of affordable synthetic fabrics gave them access to beautiful clothing and shoes. When announcement was first made in 1923 that Mary Brooks Picken of the Woman's Institute had developed a new plan by which an attractive dress could be made in an hour, it aroused tremendous interest among women everywhere. Some doubted that such an achievement was possible, until the dress was made in a public demonstration in the Grand Central Palace, New York, in 34 minutes. The fact was recorded in the New York newspapers and attested to by officials of the National Merchandise Fair.
Even though the happy- go-lucky flapper lifestyle and look did not survive the hardships of the Great Depression it set the tone for the American popular culture and modern American society. Forced with a challenging reality the flapper lifestyle faded amid soup kitchens and bread lines.
From the Archives: Looking for Clues
Bryanna Ryan, Curator of Archives
Many of the photographs that make their way into archives and museums are unidentified. Finding clues to help identify the subjects can be daunting, if not near impossible.
Photo “orphans” happen when names are not written on photographs or in albums and they are eventually distanced from any last remaining relative who could describe their identity. They end up in yard sales, antique stores, and sadly even the trash.
While orphaned images can still provide valuable insight into clothing, hairstyles, accessories and studio props that were once popular, learning the names and details of the lives of these subjects is what we really hope for. Collaborating with other museums offers one possible avenue for institutions to expand their investigations and attempt to put names to these timeless faces.
Recently, the Folsom History Museum brought us a box of orphaned photograph albums they had been storing since the 1960s in hopes that we might be able to shed some light into their provenance.
Could they be from Placer County? Is there a photograph of the infamous Rattlesnake Dick in them? Wishful thinking on that last part and no, they are too late in time period but that would have been fantastic.
A cursory look into these albums starts to reveal clues we will follow in our investigation. A few names appear and this is where we will start our search. There is also a memorial card for eighteen-year old, Nettie A. Harper who died January 16, 1894. Does this name ring a bell for anyone?
We may never know if this album has a Placer County connection or why Tom O’Keefe sent his photograph to Carrie Stein but we are happy to do our part to help our fellow museums. Who knows, maybe we will find a clue that they have made their way to the right place, after all.
By the way, if anyone has a photograph of Auburn’s historic courthouse under construction we would love to speak with you!
Come to Our Home for the Holidays!
Katy Bartosh, Curator of Education
Scheduling a tour is an easy process that provides big results for the individuals who get a one-on-one experience. Call the Museum office at 530-889-6500 and ask to schedule a tour. We’ll talk about your interests, where, and when you want to go. If it’s something we can do, we’ll schedule something for your specific needs.
Placer County Museums are perfect for welcoming tours of 30 or a family of three. Call and schedule a tour today. We have a dedicated group of volunteers to help interpret our great selection of exhibits.
News From the Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis, President
The Society is currently reviewing the historical plaques that we have previously placed about town with the idea of making sure they are historically correct. Lots of them were placed a long time ago and based on oral tradition instead of on facts. If you know of a plaque that needs to be placed on our list for reconsideration, please let one of the board members know.
The Society will soon have a completely revamped edition of Auburn Images, the book of photographs from the Mel Locher collection. Even if you already have an old edition, you certainly want to get a copy of this new edition. It is filled with updated and new information about scenes from Auburn’s past. The books will be available at the next general meeting in December.
Also in December is the annual end of year raffle. This is always a fun event. So bring some items to raffle off or just come and buy tickets! This is a major fund raiser for the Society.
The city of Auburn has just launched a new website, www.auburn.ca.gov. Check out the great slideshow of town photos put together by Amy Lind, the City Clerk and the City Historian. Go to the website, then to Visitors, then to Auburn History. Hope to see you all at the December 6th general meeting.
april400wavecable.com (530) 823-2128
Calendar of Events
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Placer County Historical Organizations
Colfax Area Historical Society
Gayle Sorensen (530) 346-8599
Donner Summit Historical Society
Bill Oudegeest (209) 606-6859
Foresthill Divide Historical Society
Sandy Simester (530) 367-3535
Fruitvale School Hall Community Association
Lyndell Grey (916) 645-3517
Golden Drift Historical Society
Sarah Fugate (530) 389-2121
Historical Advisory Board
Glenn Vineyard (916) 747-1961
Joss House Museum and Chinese History Center
Richard Yue (530) 346-7121
Lincoln Highway Association
Bob Dieterich email@example.com
Lincoln Area Archives Museum
Elizabeth Jansen (916) 645-3800
Loomis Basin Historical Society
Karen Clifford (916) 663-3871
Maidu Museum & Historic Site
Kaitlin Kincade (916) 782-3299
The Museum of Sierra Ski History and 1960 Winter Olympics
David C. Antonucci
Native Sons of the Golden West, Parlor #59
Dave Allen (530) 878-2878
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Mario Farinha (530) 269-2412
Newcastle Portuguese Hall Association
Mario Farinha (530) 269-2412
North Lake Tahoe Historical Society
Marnie Carr (530) 583-1762
Old Town Auburn Preservation Society
Lynn Carpenter (530) 885-1252
Placer County Genealogical Society
Toni Rosasco (530) 888-8036
Placer County Historical Society
April McDonald-Loomis (530) 823-2128
Placer County Museums Docent Guild
Fran Hanson (530) 878-6990
Rocklin Historical Society
Hank Lohse, President (916) 624-3464
Roseville Fire Museum
Roseville Historical Society
Christina Richter (916) 773-3003