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View of San Diego Mission by Henry Chapman Ford
The Bancroft Library
KQED Radio
Hiram Johnson, Hubert Howe Bancroft, Hetch Hetchy


The California Mission as Symbol and Myth
Like America Only More So: The Origins and Power of California's Image
Heaven on the Half-shell: Mark Twain in California
California's Greatest Thirst: A Glance at the Contentious History of California's Water
An Entrepreneurial Genius: Henry J. Kaiser
Kick out the Southern Pacific
A Library for California

View of San Diego Mission by Henry Chapman Ford

by James J. Rawls
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on January 10, 2002

The Hispanicization of California was one of the last acts in imperial Spain's appropriation of the resources of the Americas - the most important resource being the native Americans themselves. The central instrument of Hispanicization was the mission, an institution designed to transform native Americans into useful members of the Spanish empire. From the Spanish point of view the missions were a limited success; for Native Americans they were catastrophic. Mexican independence in 1821 brought to California a new political status. Under Mexican rule an abiding issue was the secularization of the missions and the redistribution of their resources into private hands until they were finally suppressed in 1834. By that time California had become unmistakably Hispanic. The accounts of the missions by French, English, and Russian visitors often criticized them on both humanitarian and self-interested grounds. Early Anglo-American narratives generally did the same, partially in order to justify American expansion. Following the U.S. conquest in 1846, the missions entered a period of decay, and American settlers viewed the missions with contempt and disinterest. Then, in the 1800s, a wholly positive "mission myth" emerged. Invested with an aura of romance, the crumbling missions became the center of a restoration campaign. This revival was based partly on profit and partly on a deeply felt need among a new generation of Californians for antiquity and stability. The historic missions of California are locked in time and space, but their image continues to roam freely through the imagination of modern Californians.

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California gold diggers, a scene from actual life at the mines by John Andrew

by J.S. Holliday
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on January 17, 2002

J. S. Holliday vividly recounts the story of the world's first gold rush, from 1849 through the free-for-all decades of the 1860s and '70s, on to the climatic year 1884. He describes California's transformation from the quietude of a Mexican hinterland to the forefront of entrepreneurial capitalism. Early California was a robust masculine world of mining camps and instant cities where both business and pleasure prospered, far from hometown eyes and conventional inhibitions. His narration explains gold mining's swift evolution from treasure hunt to vast industry, traces the prodigal plunder of California's virgin rivers, and abundant forests and identifies with the risk-takers - sheltered by California's freedom of autonomy - who sought profits by opening gambling dens, boarding houses, and bordellos. Most important to the state's future, miners-turned-farmers prospered by feeding the rapidly growing population. This wildly laissez-faire economy created California's image as a risk-taking society, unconstrained by fear of failure, always encouraged by some new invention, some new enterprise that proved wonderfully profitable. "America, only more so," the central theme of these lectures focuses on how, after decades of careless freedom, the miners were finally confronted by the farmers, and how their once mutually dependent relationship soured into hostility. This potential violence led to a dramatic courtroom decision in 1884 that shut down the mighty hydraulic mining operations, marking the end of California's free-for-all youthful exuberance.

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Samuel L. Clemens

by Robert H. Hirst
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on January 24, 2002

In 1861, Sam Clemens traveled by stagecoach from his home state of Missouri to the deserts of Nevada. At the time he was a licensed Mississippi pilot, temporarily out of work because of the Civil War. He surely did not think of himself as a writer, much less a humorist. Those professions simply could not compare, in his mind, with the rank and dignity of piloting. But it was to be in Nevada and later in California that he was transformed into a writer, reluctantly embracing his own extraordinary talent, what he referred to at the time as his "call to literature, of a low order - i.e. humorous." In two lectures, "Those Were the Days!" and "Heaven on the Half-Shell," Robert Hirst tells the story of how Clemens came to the West, what he did there, and why he stayed longer than he planned, eventually adopting the name "Mark Twain" to sign his letters to the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. The files of that newspaper are largely lost, but Hirst reads from dozens of little known text survivors, including "Petrified Man," which have been recovered from scrapbooks and other sources by the editors of the Mark Twain Project. When Mark Twain moved to San Francisco in 1864 he wrote for several journals, but again most of what he wrote has been lost, despite the brilliance of what survives. From these survivors Hirst reads "Ministerial Change" and "Explanation of a Mysterious Sentence," among others. And he concludes with one of Mark Twain's minor masterpieces, "Baker's Blue Jay Yarn," which illustrates the long-lasting effect of the West on Mark Twain's best work.

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Hetch Hetchy

by James J. Rawls
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on August 7, 2003

This lecture traces the story of California's development and use of its water resources, including how giant construction projects, conceived by daring, innovative engineers (backed by public support) created water delivery systems for the state's urban and agricultural growth: the Owens Valley aqueduct for Los Angeles, 1908-1913; the Hetch Hetchy aqueduct for San Francisco 1913-1929; the Colorado River aqueduct for Southern California, 1922-1935; and the Central Valley Project and State Water Project, 1933-1960s.

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Henry J. Kaiser

by J.S. Holliday
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on August 14, 2003

This presentation recounts the career of Henry J. Kaiser as an outstanding example of California's culture of risk-taking and innovation. With daring, innovative engineering methods, Henry J. Kaiser played a major role in constructing the massive projects that reshaped California and the West: Hoover and Parker dams on the Colorado River; the San Francisco Bay Bridge; and the Bonneville, Grand Coulee, and Shasta dams. During World War II his shipyards launched more cargo ships than any such enterprise in history-in 1943 one "Liberty Ship" every ten hours. After the war, he challenged Detroit with his automobile production and his health care program-Kaiser Permanente-pioneered pre-paid medical insurance, a forecast for modern HMOs.

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Hiram Johnson

by James J. Rawls
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on August 21, 2003

This talk explores Hiram Johnson's campaign for Governor and the long term impact of reforms achieved under his leadership. Hiram Johnson's 1910 campaign for Governor of California centered on his condemnation of the entrenched power of the Southern Pacific Railroad. His surprising victory and dynamic leadership produced an astonishing array of reforms, described by Theodore Roosevelt as "the most comprehensive program of constructive legislation ever passed at one session of any American legislature." Not least among his legacies has been the role of the initiative as a means for voters to propose statutes and even constitutional amendments, a reform that remains a powerful influence in modern California politics.

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Hubert H. Bancroft

by J.S. Holliday
Broadcast on KQED Radio (FM 88.5) on August 28, 2003

This lecture traces the history of The Bancroft Library from its origins with Hubert Howe Bancroft to the present. In 1859 Hubert Howe Bancroft began collecting books, journals, maps, and documents that recorded the history of California and the western states and territories. By 1905, when he sold his library to the University of California, Bancroft's astonishing collection-including government and church archives-encompassed the region from Alaska to Panama. During the almost one hundred years since that fortuitous purchase, The Bancroft Library has expanded in size and focus to become not only the foremost resource for the study of California and Western American history, but as well one of the greatest research libraries in the world-thanks to the imaginative, often risk-taking leadership of its four directors. Yes, only four in nearly one hundred years, 1905-2005: Herbert E. Bolton, George P. Hammond, James D. Hart, and the present director, Charles B. Faulhaber.

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