This going digital aspect of how Museums are addressing the Corona outbreak is only now starting out as we’re realizing that we’ll be in this for a while, but it is already looking like it’ll be a powerful movement. Just like how the Museum Duck War of 2019 and Cowboy Tim are bringing museums to the forefront of viral Twitter feeds and national news, I think these videos will put museums on people’s radar and pique interest to keep in touch and visit in person once the restrictions lift.
By the end of this event, I'm sure many of us will have a litany of new digital skills - video chatting, using Zoom, Facebook Live, email, messenger apps, the whole shebang. Museums and other cultural institutions are right there with you learning how to use these tools as well!
One of the things I’ve been looking at was how different museums are doing virtual tours of their exhibits during the closures from the virus. Everyone has a little bit of a different approach, from using Facebook live to Zoom and having a cohost to filming, processing, and posting. Some of the videos are just visitors wandering around and pointing out things they see and the title text on interpretive signs (in pre-closure days). I’ve been mulling over the idea of doing something like that for our Museum, as it brings the collections to our community, but also has the possibility of bringing collections to the world. I’ve virtually toured the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office in Washington DC today and the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA near my home town, the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, the National Museum of Funeral History in Texas, and an art museum that had paintings of landscapes with modern additions like bridges and cars (I’m not a specialist in art, as you can tell). They all had different strengths and weaknesses, and everyone highlighted things differently. Some did a continual stream, others picked out specific items, it was all over the board.
A new version of the Duck War in these times is the hashtag #museumsfromhome, which our own Nealis Hall Curator Brittany is using in tagging her ongoing #basketoftheday and Marketing Coordinator Dana is using in #artifactoftheday. you can use these hashtags to see what we’re doing and what other museums are doing throughout the closures.
So, we look forward to seeing you digitally for the time being. If you appreciate the work we’re doing, the easiest thing you can do is like and share it with your friends. You can sign up for our newsletter through our website to get updates on new content, updates on the closure, and more. You can send a few dollars our way through PayPal on our website. You can also become a member- our lowest membership level is $25 for students and seniors, $55 is our household membership, and $100 gets you admission to hundreds of museums across the US (once travel and visiting restrictions are lifted of course). We even have a membership option where you can donate monthly rather than a lump sum, making membership more affordable.
As a museum professional and a person who likes visiting museums anyway, I want to encourage you: if you enjoy the content that any number of museums are offering right now, please send a few bucks their way or become a member! Some museums are extending memberships purchased now or prior to the epidemic to make up for lost time that the museum is closed.
We do what we do for you, and we do what we do because of you. Thank you for your continuing support!
I wrote this post up a while back and thought I had posted it. Guess not! Well the timing couldn't be better. Let's talk about the history of Hospitals in Humboldt County.
Someone could (and should) write a book on this topic, as hospitals in the county, and the medical field in general in Humboldt County, has a really colorful history. You've got household hospitals, traveling doctors, brotherly feuds, nuns, Unions and Union-busting employers, pandemics, early insurance (more interesting than it sounds), evolving medical practices, treatments, and more. Of course, like most aspects of our area's history, it was colored by the fact that we're a rural, hard to get to area.
Here's a taste of that history.
As Humboldt County’s population continued growing with the industrial boom of turn of the century United States, growing towns needed medical care for a variety of illnesses and unpredictable events that came their way, particularly injuries in the variety of industries here.
It may be surprising, when comparing the hospitals of yesteryear to the hospital of now, that there were, at one point in time, four hospitals operating in the Eureka-Arcata area in the first and second decades of the 20th century. The population of the county in 1900 was around 27,000 individuals, with the number rising to 37,000 by 1920. There were loggers, miners, families, industrialists, and Humboldt county was a bustling place to live. It was also a very dangerous place to live, partially due to it still being a frontier area and the lack of workplace safety regulations.
Northern California Hospital
The trouble came to a boiling point while Charles was hosting a surgery with spectators and Curtis claimed that Charles was using the opportunity to brag about his work. Charles replied that Curtis should buy the hospital and he could run things his way- Charles would even come up with a purchase price for his brother. All this happened while there was a patient on the table anesthetized for surgery. I'm sure an anesthesiologist (if there was one) was sweating nearby.
A few weeks later, Charles approached Curtis with a purchase price for his share of the hospital, and Curtis claimed that his brother had settled on that number because he knew it was too high and Curtis would turn it down. Next thing you know, Curtis takes Charles down by grabbing him by the throat and throwing him to the ground and knocks Charles out, sending him to the hospital. Curtis then severs ties with his brother’s hospital.
A few years later, in 1918, Curtis caught typhoid and his brother, Charles, took care of him in the hospital. Once Curtis had recovered, the two brothers then worked on patients who had caught the famous Spanish Flu, an epidemic that wreaked havoc on Eureka. Charles’ hospital stayed open during the outbreak, and only closed when both Charles and Curtis and the matron and assistant for the hospital signed up to join the US Army Medical Corps in November of 1918 and were sent to France
When the brothers returned after their service, they operated independent practices and did not reopen the Northern California Hospital, which ended up changing hands in 1920.
Union Labor Hospital
Around the same time that Northern California Hospital had taken root, the Union Labor Hospital opened in 1906, which was the first pre-paid health plan in the United States. There was a movement around this time to unionize loggers and other timber workers by the IWW (International Workers of the World, whose members were oftentimes known as Wobblys). 9 unions came together to open the Union Labor Hospital, initially at 5th and B. The organization was socialist oriented, and part of their movement was to open a hospital for the benefit of workers, initially only open to the 9 unions that founded the hospital but later included all unions. It was a hospital with 50 beds and initially supplied its own hospitals until later decades when it was open to the community- any doctor could bring their patients to the hospital to care for them. Payment was done through a ticket system. An individual would purchase a $10 ticket (which is about $280 in today’s market) that would offer complete coverage for the holder against sickness and accidents at work. Initially, these were only available to men, but eventually women and children could also purchase tickets and be cared for at the hospital. Additionally, the hospital was a nursing school that educated three generations of nurses during its operational days with classes supplemented with in hospital work. Most of these nurses remained at the hospital, ensuring a steady staff of available nurses to join the Hospital with the graduation of each class. The patients they cared for were mostly those affected by workplace accidents and excessive drinking.
Anti-Union sentiment battered the hospital in its early days- and barely a year after the hospital opened, a huge Union labor strike at a local mill led to the deaths of many of the strikers- but it stayed open and continued to serve patients, even in years when Union support waivered. Following the 1907 strike, employers of union workers required fees of $1 per month, which was used to pay into a fund for injured workers and allowed the worker to be treated at hospitals pre-chosen by the company, of which the Union Labor Hospital was excluded. A legal battle ensued, and temporarily the Union Labor Hospital was able to get an injunction to stop companies from charging workers the $1 per month fee, but it was later overturned in 1910. There were many workers, however, who paid the $1 fee required by their employer while also paying the $10 per year ticket for service at Union Labor Hospital and were cared for there rather than at the company- directed hospitals.
St. Francis Hospital
In 1918, when Curtis and Charles Falk were fighting the Spanish Influenza alongside numerous doctors and nurses, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange were chipping in to the cause by opening their Nazareth Academy to house the sick. Even though the sisters did not have medical training, they visited the sick in their homes and did what they could to help.
Once the Influenza epidemic drew to a close along with the Northern California Hospital as the Falks took off for France, Mother Bernard persuaded the city of Eureka to reopen the Northern California hospital. It was purchased for $20,000, which was paid through trading property. The Sisters were sent to medical training in San Francisco and to the Mayo Clinic for their medical training and returned to a reopened Northern California Hospital, whose name had been changed to St. Josephs. The hospital was to also be a training hospital and this location served the community until the Sisters built a new hospital on Dolbeer in 1954.
In 2000, after a little under a century in operation, General Hospital was also purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.
Here's a handy-dandy-low-budget (i.e DIY by me) graphic showing the consolidation of hospitals and healthcare in Eureka/Arcata. Orange boxes note hospitals owned and operated by St. Josephs. You'll notice a hospital at the bottom of the graphic that I haven't mentioned... Stay posted for the story of the Trinity Hospital and Mad River Hospital.
Day ??? of Shelter in place and soon I’ll have polished off a 30 pack of tortillas and pound of salsa. I’m looking through my cupboards to see if there is anything, anything different I can make with random odds and ends that I have. Ooh, mac and cheese. That’ll do.
Oh my and it has cookie recipes.
Cookies are some of my go-to recipes when I’m having a tough day or know someone else who is. There’s an oatmeal cookie one that sounds tasty, oh, and a peanut butter cookie one that also sounds tasty…
For you enjoyment, here’s those two recipes:
The book also includes little stories from some of the recipe contributors, like the ones listed in the last two recipes. Another story was one from Carol S. Kausen of Fortuna who says that she found the recipe for her holiday “Delightful “No Bake” Dessert” from a friend of a friend who was a caretaker on one of the Russ family ranches. She was really impressed with the recipe and made it a part of her holiday traditions for the next 50 years.
A word of caution however, look how many it serves before you break into making a recipe from this book- some serve a small dinner party while others serve 25 or more!
In all, if you’re looking for a book that gives you a rundown of the early immigration history to Humboldt County and some recipes for your shelter in place party of 1 (or your household), this is the book for you!
If you’re looking for me this weekend, I’ll be in the kitchen baking up a storm. Too bad I’ll have to keep the cookies to myself…
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home!
We, in the larger history organization sense of the word, have journals, newspapers, letters and more from another life changing event -the 1918 epidemic. The journals and lettersgive us an inside look at the event from the view of people who lived through it, and a view into how the epidemic affected individuals and communities, while the papers give us a larger picture idea of what was going on. These resources have been used locally to write up articles on local responses to the 1918 epidemic, and these articles can be found over at the Historical Society. You can also read excerpts from a diary by someone who lived through the epidemic on their website, linked here. Their Facebook page has been very active through these events in sharing the steps local residents took to protect themselves and their community in 1918, some of which are similar to today. Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how archivists will be preserving all the art and culture that has been shared through digital means like Facebook Live videos during the pandemic, but that is a thing for another day. Now is the time to start creating that paper record of COVID-19 for future researchers. I wonder how many people are clipping newspaper articles, writing down their thoughts, and documenting how the world is changing around us as this event continues on.
I grew up in San Diego (North County, the Vista-Oceanside area for those who are familiar with the area) and I remember getting ahold of the newspaper each day during the 2008 fires and hacking out photos and articles on the event. I didn’t include notes, just taped the articles into a scrapbook that is still at my parent’s house. I remember a picture taken during a flyover of a burned area - two cul-de-sacs in a cookie cutter neighborhood side by side, one circle had all its houses intact except one, and the other all of the homes except one had burned. I believe it was on the front page of the paper that particular day.
My dad worked for the power company, so he was part of the first group that went into the burned areas after the fires passed to rebuild the electrical infrastructure that had been decimated. He carried around a disposable camera with him to show us some of the crazy things he saw. I vividly remember him sharing a picture with us of a burned over car where the window was melted down the side of the car and in a puddle on the ash-black ground. Another image was of a power pole, where only the cross-arm (where the power lines cross the power pole) and the transformer was left- the fire had burned so fast the bottom of the pole went up but not the cross-arm. I know people to this day that have artifacts recovered from those events, a melted piece of metal that was formerly an engine block, shined up and hanging on a wall. A burned page from a magazine, with an address miles away from where it was found, carried by the wind. During that event, I sewed a lot. Nothing very fancy because I was just using random fabric that I found and I was only 12 or so, but I still have some of those things in a box that remains at my parents house called my fire box. That is the one thing they need to grab from my room if the house is on the fire path. It lives near the door to my room so it’s accessible.
These things - events, experiences, items- stay with us and we carry them with us for the rest of our lives, physically and mentally. I didn’t lose my house in that fire or the ones that have happened in more recent years, but I know people who did and they will tell you the same thing.
Initially, I wasn’t sure how long this pandemic was going to last, but eventually I began to own the fact that this will be our new normal for a bit, so I’m keeping a journal of sorts.
My journal is a little different than paper and pen story telling - I’m making a quilt block a day and jotting down thoughts on the quilt block, along with what was going on while I made it. Some I made while livestreaming on my Facebook. Some turned out wonky which may have been due to quilter error to be honest. The book I’m working from is of quilt blocks turned into pot holders, but I figure it’s a good chance to use up some fabric that I might not use otherwise, learn some new blocks, and keep myself busy during shelter in place. The book is structured in a way where you make a potholder a week for a whole year, so since I started this 6 days ago, I now have 46 days worth of blocks left. If all these blocks get made, it’ll make a quilt (roughly) 80 inches by 60 inches. With borders and all, that thing will be HUGE - but toasty warm and sure to keep me cozy in the fall when we may very well have to go into quarantine again with a resurgence of the virus (which happened in 1918 and very well might happen again). I’ll have to find another book of potholders a week if that’s the case, and stock up on fabric!
I realize now that the comfort I’ve taken in making these blocks and sharing them through social media and with my mom’s group of quilters (many of whom weathered the 2008 fires at our house when they were evacuated and needed a place to go) is just bringing me full circle. Quilting has helped me before, and it continues to help me now. Part of that is the experience of making things, part is the feeling of holding fabric, and part is the community that comes from the act of making something.
I’ve been working from home per the shelter in place order since… last week? Time really seems to be blurring as my house is really quiet besides when my cat decides to sing to me at 3 am for no reason.
I miss being at the museum and working with my coworkers, walking around Old Town on my breaks, and talking with visitors about the exhibits. I also miss the events we host, inviting people into the museum to learn, talk, and form friendships.
However, for the good of our community, we’ve all been asked to stay home and find other ways to occupy our time. Museum work is never done, so we’re all keeping busy behind the scenes. Brittany has been posting Baskets of the Day on our Instagram, Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Dana is working on Artifacts of the Day, Registrar Alex is studying up on professional standards for storage collection, and I'm researching for upcoming exhibits.
Part of what I’ve been doing, is reading up on local history. Luckily, there is definitely no shortage of books on our region’s history! Here’s what I’ve been reading:
Here are a few other books worth checking out in quarantine (you may be able to get them from Eureka Books if they are still open for deliveries. The Historical Society also has many of these books in their book store so contact them about possibilities for shipping. Some of these may also be available digitally through the library on Libby, Overdrive, etc). I have read many of these, but some have been recommended to me, some I have seen and heard good things about, etc.
(Note: I wasn't paid to recommend any of these books! I purchased most if not all of them at local second hand stores or through eBay's used book section. If you use Amazon, pick us out on Amazon Smile when you order and we get some money from the sale with no extra cost to you!
I hope I inspired some of you to dive into some reading on local history. What are some of your favorite local history related books or topics?
Remodeling the case took removing the collection, shelving and layers of fabric and carpet inside the case. From there it took a few passes of sanding and scraping to get to where we could prime and paint the walls.
135 years ago today, the Chinese population of Eureka was expelled following increased tensions and a flashpoint- the accidental shooting of Councilman Kendall.
This is usually the story that is told about the event- but it doesn't end there.
There were local individuals who supported the Chinese community, however, this was a widely unpopular stance that was not largely supported in the local press at the time. Reverend Huntington was one person who appears in the record as a supporter of the local Chinese community, offering classes to students and helping to save one of his students from being hanged by an angry mob thinking that the student, Charley, was trying to hide during the 1885 Expulsion. Another man, mentioned only as Rich the Minister of the Methodist Church, also spoke out against exclusion at the meeting immediately after Kendall was shot.
Huntington recorded in his journal (which can be read at the Humboldt County Historical Society) that someone at the Centennial Hall meeting following Kendall’s death proposed massacring everyone in China Town, which was declined. The next proposition was to loot and burn China Town, forcing its residents into the forest around the town and leaving them to the elements.
Sheriff Brown spoke at the meeting following these propositions, saying “Before anything there was done, I want you to understand that I am Sheriff of Humboldt County, sworn to uphold the law and I will do so to the end. That if anybody starts anything violating the law, they’ve got to reckon with me and my deputies”. He also called out the National Guard to protect the prison where 20 Chinese men accused of having been part of the gun fight that killed Kendall were being kept. This was the first time the National Guard was called out locally since Eureka was founded.
Earlier in the year, one story notes on January 13, 1885, there was a news story in the Times-Telephone concerning the Chinese, but with a different slant. It indicated some of the Chinese wanted to settle down, contrary to the narrative that all Chinese came to work, earn money, and go back to China. The news item read “Judge Maguire has decided that Chinese children are entitled to admission into the public schools of the State. The Judge says there is no law in California to prohibit Chinese children from attending the public schools and that if there was, it would be clearly unconstitutional, as being in direct conflict with the Constitution of the United States...” the newspaper added: “this will further relieve our school trustees from the annoyance of answering further questions concerning the little Chinese girl that attends the primary school on Fourth Street, and we know they will be glad the matter is settled.” More research is needed to get the entirety of this story and connect it to similar events in other places.
In other places in the country, Chinese populations and individuals took cases to local, state, and federal courts. After the Eureka expulsion, many of Eureka’s Chinese residents in San Francisco called a meeting to demand reparations for not only property left behind (and later taken by Eurekans), but as victims of what could have become a massacre. Consul Bee, the Chinese consul in San Francisco argued that “all of the Chinese expelled are not criminals. Many of them are peaceable merchants, whose business has been broken up by their expulsion.” The consul built a case against the city’s actions and rightfully claimed that the outcome of his case Wing Hing v. Eureka, would set a precedent in future expulsion events- however the results were not in their favor. The case was dismissed under unclear circumstances, and other communities took note that expulsions could be repeated legally across the country without repercussions. (the entirety of the court case documents submitted by the Chinese in this case, titled Wing Hing v. Eureka, is available digitally from Humboldt State University's Special Collections.)
Between 1882 and 1905, Chinese individuals nationally filed more than 10,000 federal lawsuits, with 20 of them being sent on to the Supreme Court, including Yick Wo v. Hopkins in San Francisco, which required permits for the operation of laundries- all 80 white applicants were permitted and none of the 200 Chinese applicants were permitted. United States v. Wong Kim Ark was another case which cemented a key point in US immigration- Wong Kim Ark was born in the United States to two Chinese parents who, due to their being Chinese at a time when Chinese individuals could not become naturalized Citizens, unlike immigrants from other areas. Ark left to visit family in China and was denied reentry, so he took his case to the courts, which established an important precedent for the 14th amendment, which in part grants US citizenship to those born in the United States, even if their parents are not legal citizens. A big part of why this ruling was not challenged was because it would greatly complicate citizenship for a large portion of the population, including those with parents born in Europe.
More research is needed to continue expanding the narrative on the early Chinese community in Humboldt County, and I hope that our current exhibit, this blog post, and a forthcoming article in the Humboldt Historian help to encourage that research and inspire others to look more deeply into the story.
The following post is from Brittany Britton, Nealis Hall Native American Collection Curator:
The Nealis Hall Native American Collection ranges from the mid 1800’s to the late 1970’s. That is quite a stretch of time!
With the New Year we wanted to celebrate a selection of baskets dating from the 1920’s who are turning 100 years old. The display includes a selection of 8 baskets from 1920, and paired with 4 birthday cards from the 1920's from our Clarke collection.
What did baskets see in the 1920's?
By this point in time weavers in our area would have been weaving for trade for over 40 years. Weavers sold their baskets to Brizards and other dealers in the region. They were also visited by outside curio trade interests to take baskets outside of the area for the growing curio trade.
Nettie Ruben, Elizabeth and Louisa Hickox would be in their heyday of weaving for trade, as well as other numerous weavers represented here.
These baskets are representative of the strength and durability of the weavers craft, surviving in such good conditions over the last 100 years. In the previous iteration of the Clarke Collection housed in the Bank Building, parts of the collection had hung on the wall for 20+ years before Nealis Hall was built.
The baskets moved from weavers hands, through trade systems, living in people's homes, and finally here to the Clarke Museum. We are grateful to celebrate a 100 years for these baskets, as well as the 2,500 other items celebrating birthdays ranging from 50 to 170 years.
Come on down to see more information on the baskets, and see them in person! This exhibit will be open Arts Alive Saturday January 5th, and through the month of February when we reopen to the public.
For the last month or two, the Clarke has been running a fundraiser to restore our historic lighting, which consisted of bronze chandeliers that were recently rediscovered after being removed about 60 years ago. The project is in the works, and thanks to friends of the Clarke, has been very successful so far. However, we're still a ways away from our goal so consider dropping by the museum or donating through our donation page here on the website or via Facebook. Every dollar helps us get closer to our goal!
What did the interior used to look like?
When Cecile Clarke purchased the Bank of Eureka building in the 1960s, that kind of elaborate decor was out of style, so the walls were painted over and the elaborate chandeliers removed and given to Cecile's Episcopal church. From there, the chandeliers appeared at Old Town Bar and Grill, a bank at the Mall, back to Old Town Bar and Grill, and then put into storage after being damaged by bricks during an earthquake.
Why restore the interior of the building?
Where is the project at?
So far, we've been able to get the chandeliers back and take them to Santa Rosa, where missing parts are being recreated as 3D models. The models will be used in creating molds to cast the lost pieces in bronze. The 3D modeling phase is close to finishing up, and Northbay 3D and Design has been sending us updates through the process, including how long it took to do the 3D rendering on the item and how long it took to 3D print the pieces.
Next up is to get the pieces cast in bronze and brought back to the Museum to be rewired for energy efficient lighting.
If the project is already in process, why is money still being raised?
We have enough money to cover these initial phases of the project, but we are still raising money to cover the cost of rehanging the chandeliers and updating our lighting in the entire building to be more energy efficient. It's a longer and costly project to tackle the entire building's lighting system but one that makes the most sense to have completed in one fell swoop rather than in short phases. A major lighting projects like this requires us to close our doors for a week at a time due to the lighting fixtures being on high ceilings that can only be accessed via large scissor lifts- meaning that we have to rearrange display cases to accommodate the lifts. We typically close in January for maintenance anyway, so it makes sense to be able to use that time for a major project like this one.
Thank you for your support!
One of the strongboxes used to transport gold in these stage coaches is also in this room, near the door. It is incredibly heavy and requires at least two people to carry when it is empty. This particular box was used to safeguard money en route to the mill at Ridgewood, CA (Cutten) and is similar in style to the boxes Wells Fargo used to transport money and gold.
With the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, long distance stagecoach services declined and the prevalence of messenger guns declined as it was quicker and cheaper to transport goods across the country on the train.
Keep up with the Clarke through our Blog!