Monthly Programs

Monthly programs are generally held on the second Tuesday evening of each month except for August and December. Programs are free to SFMHS members. Admission for non-members is $10 per person ($5 for seniors, students, K-12 teachers, and persons with disabilities), which may be applied to membership dues within 30 days.

Program dates and topics are subject to change. Please check this page for any last-minute updates.

Unless otherwise noted, it is not necessary to RSVP for a monthly program.

Most programs take place at the Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission. The Old Mint is close to Powell MUNI/BART, and is served my numerous bus lines. Parking is available in the Fifth and Mission/Yerba Buena Center Garage.

Please join us at 7 PM for a reception before each program.

April 2014 Program

Fremont Older and the 1916 San Francisco Bombing
John Ralston

Tuesday, April 8 - 7:30 PM

On Saturday, July 22, 1916, as “Preparedness Day” parade units assembled south of San Francisco’s Market Street, a terrorist bomb exploded, killing ten people and wounding forty. San Francisco was outraged. Instead of searching for the perpetrators, however, the district attorney used the bombing as an excuse to arrest, try and convict two obscure labor figures without evidence. What became known as the “American Dreyfus Case” led to an international outcry, finally resulting in one defendant’s pardon and the other’s parole — but only after both men had been imprisoned for twenty-three years.

On April 8, historian and author John C. Ralston will give a Power Point presentation on his new book Fremont Older & the 1916 San Francisco Bombing. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Reminder: The April program will be preceded by the SFMHS Annual Meeting.

May 2014 Program

Mining Wealth and the Rise of San Francisco’s Cosmopolitan Cuisine, 1849–1899
Erica Peters

Tuesday, May 6 - 7:30 PM
Note special date!

During the Gold Rush, those unable to mine for gold “mined” the miners instead by catering to their desire to conspicuously consume when back in San Francisco. Restaurants were the ideal setting; dining in public provided an opportunity to show off what one could afford, treat one’s friends generously, and snub one’s rivals. The first restaurants were run by Chinese immigrants, but new French arrivals soon saw that they could make more money by building on France’s fine culinary reputation than by looking directly for gold. Before long, a host of immigrants of different nationalities were enticing the miners into trying many new kinds of restaurants. Just as the Gold Rush was ending, a second wave of mining wealth hit San Francisco, with the discovery of vast quantities of silver in the Comstock Lode.

Erica J. Peters, Ph.D., is the director of the Culinary Historians of Northern California and an independent food historian. She has taught at Stanford, Santa Clara, and San Francisco State Universities; has published numerous articles on the history of food and drink; and has presented at conferences across the U.S. and abroad. She is the author of San Francisco: A Food Biography and Appetites and Aspirations in Vietnam: Food and Drink in the Long Nineteenth Century. Books will be available for sale and signing.

June 2014 Program

The Cool Gray City of Love
Gary Kumiya

Tuesday, June 10 - 7:30 PM

Poet and playwright George Sterling’s classic poem “The Cool Grey City of Love” was Sterling’s tribute to San Francisco. It starts with the lines:

“Tho I die on a distant strand,
And they give me a grave in that land,
Yet carry me back to my own city!
Carry me back to her grace and pity!”


Gary Kumiya’s new book, Cool Gray City of Love, is a collection of 49 “verses” about 49 sites in San Francisco—from a seedy intersection in the Tenderloin to the soaring sea cliffs at Lands End. Sections cover early growth of the city, as well as unique encounters in the present city. Gary will read from his book, talk about some of the most dramatic places where history is visible in San Francisco, and tell some of the fascinating stories behind those places. Books will be available for sale and signing.

Past Programs

Read about past programs to learn about the variety of subjects we cover. Read more...

SFMHS events are sponsored in part by a grant from Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund.