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Crawling the great paper trail

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It was like a pub crawl for history buffs – without the crawl.

Saturday was the first ever Archives Crawl in Sacramento, an event where four leading historical research facilities highlighted their offerings to the general public.

For five hours the California State Archives, the California State Library, the Sacramento Central Library and the Center for Sacramento History opened their doors, their files and their secret vaults to the general public.

All of the information on display Saturday, can be seen for free but other than serious historians few people ever take advantage of the resources.

For those who missed the crawl, here were some of the highlights:

100 years of mugshots from San Quentin Prison can be viewed at the State Archives on 10th and 0 Street.
Mugshots: One of the popular features in the California State Archives are the prison mug books. There you can flip through a 100 years worth of mugshots of every inmate who ever did time at San Quentin or Folsom state prisons, which at the time also included women. In 1913, there were three mug shots of every inmate: one with a hat on in street clothes, one hatless in street clothes and one shaved and in prison stripes. (Female prisoners did not get their heads shaved) There was a tough looking convicted murderer from Oakland, next to an attractive 18-year-old woman who was convicted of bigamy.

It’s not just morbid curiosity that draws viewers to the mugshots, said Jessica Herrick, an archivist.

“It’s important for genealogical research,” she said. Many people have an ancestor who served time in prison. He could be the black sheep that no one talks about. “Often the only remaining photo of their ancestor is in the mug book.”

Jessica Herrick explains filing system for legislative bills and letters at State Archives.
Walls of warrrants, records, mortgages, titles, and blueprints line six floors of climate controlled retrofit space.
Blueprints of all CSU campus prior to building.
RFK assassination: All the evidence and testimony from the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy are available for viewing. Not only can you view records from the trial of his killer, Sirhan Sirhan, but you can even examine bullet fragments and other forensic evidence. Note: If you want to actually hold Sirhan’s handgun, you have to make an appointment because a CHP officer has to be present.

Considered the history book of the world in 1493, the Nuremberg pages can be viewed at CA State Library.
Pictures of Krakow, Poland in Nuremberg pages printed in Latin in 1493.
The pages of the book Gems from Modern Poets was lined in gold leaf found in rare books collection of CA State Library.
Flipping pages from 1493:
One oldest and most unusual books at the California State Library is a history of the world compiled in 1493 by a historian from Nuremberg, Germany. The book, which is all in Latin, is an amazing early example of the hybrid form fine books of that era. It was printed on movable type, which was still relatively new to Europe after the Gutenberg Bible was printed in 1439. Then artists went back through and painted in all the illustrations which were printed from woodcuts. So the book is a hybrid between the old hand-illustrated manuscripts and newfangled mass printing.

The book is also an example that copyright theft has been around for hundreds of years – it’s not just illegal downloads of music. The history was so popular, said Gary Kurutz, principal librarian of the special collections, that other nobility from other cities had the book copied word for word. “They just substituted name of their town instead of Nuremberg,” Kurutz said.

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