Louisiana Foster: Marin County’s Influenza Angel

When disasters hit, help can come from the most unlikely places. In September of 1918 the deadly influenza epidemic struck the San Francisco Bay Area. Cities and individuals met the crisis in ways which are unpleasantly familiar to us at the moment: closing...

America Enters The Great War

One hundred years ago today, the United States entered The Great War, World War I, which had begun in Europe in 1914. Years of American neutrality and pleas for peace began to crumble as 1917 opened. President Wilson, despite declaring that the U.S. would never enter...

When worlds collide……with clowns

Anyone who studies or writes about California history will tell you that people, stories, facts, and weirdness will often intersect. Take, for example, my research about the doctors who worked at the Arequipa tuberculosis sanatorium, the topic of my next book. A few...

What’s a historian to do?

I’ve been pondering something for the last few days: why the heck did I start a history blog in the midst of some of the most unsettled current events since the Watergate era? There are historians out there providing context, really great context, for what is...

Voices of Reason in Unreasonable Times

I just re-read the great World War I memoir Testament of Youth, by British writer, pacifist, and former volunteer nurse Vera Brittain. (The book was also made into a movie last year.) Published in 1933, it is many things: personal story, war chronicle, and warning...