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09/22/2020 - 11:40am

On my best days, working as an archivist is akin to being a treasure hunter. Recently, I  discovered an unexpected treasure in the Mechanics’ Institute archives. In doing some routine work to confirm the accuracy of the Container Listing written by an intern, I found the Mercantile Library’s Visitor's Register (1853-1863). Artifacts such as the register are rare, as so many historical documents were destr...

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09/17/2020 - 4:03pm

It's that time of year when pumpkins, spiced lattes, and apples appear. Seasonal changes mean it's time to treat yourself to a reading list full of titles guaranteed to put you in an autumnal state of mind. Here in San Francisco, September ushered in with a heat wave and smoky horizons. So as the days grow shorter and the air grows healthier, it seems fitting to swap out beach reads for titles as comforting as a warm...

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09/14/2020 - 3:53pm


Elin Hilderbrand 28 summers : a novel  
Brigitte Benkemoun Finding Dora Maar : an artist, an address book, a life  
Ernest Hemingway In Our Time  
Marie-Helene Bertino...

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09/10/2020 - 11:34am

Dr. Judit Sztaray contributed to this post.  

On August 15, Mechanics' Institute (MI) wrapped up a highly successful Blitz Tournament of the Americas on Organized by MI in partnership with KmadaChess and...

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09/03/2020 - 9:14am

This Labor Day 2020 will be a temporary break from tradition. Outdoor activities around crowds remain risky, while staying indoors with the windows closed is looking better all the time. Between the poor air quality from myriad Northern California fires and an ongoing pandemic, why not just stay home? Not ideal but quite safe. There's an alternative way to celebrate labor by watching films featuring a diverse cast of...

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09/01/2020 - 3:54pm

In the small hours of the morning on March 15, 1924 something started to smolder within the salesroom of the A. Lietz Manufacturing Company at 61 Post Street. Perhaps it was an employee’s abandoned cigarette or something more combustible. But within minutes the plate glass windows shattered, sending tinkling glass out onto the sidewalk. The explosion sent “the menace of the fire roaring into the street.” Immediately, a thr...

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08/28/2020 - 9:52am

Few families have been left untouched by disease, whether it's COVID-19 or a pandemic in the past. At 32, my own grandmother perished during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918. Stories of how she left six young children behind, including my mother, remain cautionary tales to this day. Undoubtedly, many families have stories such as these.

Aside from oral histories, pandemics leave an educational opportunity i...

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08/25/2020 - 4:21pm

Avid mystery fans are undoubtedly familiar with the image of a serial killer as an eccentric genius, expertly leading police on dark, wild chases fed by premeditated clues designed to  result in endless detours. The highly intelligent murderer also tantalizes us in countless television series and blockbuster films. But if you're in the mood for a clever new twist on serial killer novels, check out the latest title by...

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08/21/2020 - 2:32pm

Meal preparation during a pandemic is tricky business. Navigating the food store and farmer's markets never used to be hazardous. Yet there is a silver lining to the current situation--more quality time in the kitchen! Whether you are an accomplished cook or a novice, experimenting with new recipes and incorporating seasonal produce feels like Sunday dinner preparation. In the new remote work environment, quick, weeknight...

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