Christopher Bazil: Environmental Design Library

April 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

The Environmental Design Library serves the College of Environmental Design, which is made up of the departments of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City and Regional Planning. The ED Library is located on the second floor of Wurster Hall, and is open Monday – Thursday 9-9, Friday 9-5, Saturday 1-5, and Sunday 1-9.

This is one of my favorite libraries. It has a great lounge area for reading, huge desks for computer or drawing work, a printing station, private group study rooms, and a large on site staff to help you out with any questions or needs. The ED library has books, serials, maps, images, blueprints, and archives from all over the world. However, the library’s main strengths are in Bay Area built environment history since 1890.

Some of the ED Library’s archival collections includes primary source materials from John Galen Howard, the Olmsted Brothers, Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck, and the Berkeley Garden Club. Archival materials include correspondences, reports, drawings, photos, and artifacts.

The ED Library is a great resource for anyone that is researching nearly any topic dealing with Bay Area history since 1890. So much of our social history is tied to structures, landscapes, and our urban form. The collections contained within ED could help compliment a well-rounded social history of any Bay Area topic.

Even if you have no interests in any of the subjects mentioned here, I highly recommend stopping by the Environmental Design Library for a quick field-trip — you’ll learn something new about our amazing campus, and maybe even find a new study spot.

Christopher Bazil: Film and Documentaries

April 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Booya Grandma! I found some great resources for my topic today. To my surprise, there are many documentaries on the Sears, Roebuck Company and American architecture of the early twentieth-century.

The first and most promising resource is called Mr. Sears’ Catalogue. Located at the Media Resources Center, this documentary was produced as part of the PBS series The American Experience. Mr. Sears’ Catalogue traces the “development and growth of the Sears, Roebuck and Company mail order catalogue business and its impact on American culture, particularly upon rural America.”

This video sounds perfect for my research, and I am super excited to check it out.

The second resource I found at the Media Resources Center is called The American House: a guide to architectural styles. This could be worth viewing because it specifically talks about the American Bungalow and Craftsman homes of the 1920’s. Since the most popular Sears styles were the Bungalow and Craftsman, it could be a valuable resource for insights into the genre’s popularity.

My third find is called Dream Houses, and “Examines the American home as a reflection of its owner’s self-image.” This too could be a really important resource for me. One of my research questions is about the American pivot away from the Victorian style and the quick adoption during the 1910’s of the “modern home.” One explanation for this shift was the growing popularity of  home design simplicity, cleanliness, and efficiency. Perhaps the documentary can help make the argument that the popularity of the Sears Bungalow style was not just a matter of price, but moreover, a reflection of its owner’s desires to acquire these features within the domestic setting.

Christopher Bazil: Visual Resources

April 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

NorthDakotaSearsHouse2      028r

This week I looked at visual resources. Using the advice of our awesome guest speaker, Luke Habberstad, I ventured into the Library of Congress abyss. Linking through OskiCat to the “American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library,” I discovered some really cool stuff about Sears homes of the 1910’s.

As some of you may or may not know, finding documentation and histories of Sears Kit Homes (that are not from the Sears Company), is extremely rare. Nearly all of the visual resources for this subject are stock photos that had once been used in the various “Modern Homes” catalogs. To my surprise, I found a small, yet rich, archive of photos from a single family farm that had built a Sears bungalow as their home.

From the photo’s tags, we know that the home was a Sears kit house assembled in Fullerton, North Dakota in 1917. A sparse farm, the picture suggests that the family was just starting out, using the Sears home as both the focal point of the farm, and possibly as a symbol of middle class social status and living standards.

A second photo dated 1973 shows the home from the exact same view as the 1917 photo. This second photo shows a fully matured landscape, with the same Sears bungalow sitting gracefully in the background. It is really hard to believe that these two photos are of the same house; but I promise you, they are. There is so much that could be said about these two photos, and I am excited to have found them.


Resource For: Stefano Flavoni

March 27, 2013 § Leave a comment


Hi Stefano. I have to say that your topic is very unique, and I really enjoyed the presentation about Shostakovich that you gave at Bancroft. I don’t know much about classical music, but I appreciate its beauty and complexity, and have gone to a number of symphonies. The Soviet Union during the Cold War is also a very fascinating subject, especially when considering the kinds of censorship that was taking place.

I’m guessing that the best information about Shostakovich is probably in Europe, perhaps Russia or Germany. Keeping on this continent, I looked through the Eastman School of Music’s Library, located in New York. This is supposedly one of the best music schools in the country (is this true)? To my surprise, the school held a conference on Shostakovich in 2006. It was a week-long event, with speakers and performers from all over the world coming together to discuss Shostakovich’s life and music. I think this conference’s archive could be a valuable resource for you. Maybe for the content, but perhaps more as a tool for discovering other scholars and professionals who specialize in Shostakovich’s work. This, my friend, is a geek fest of everything Shostakovich.

Going through the list of speakers, you could locate some of these people and call or email them. I’m sure they could help you locate rare or hard-to-find information, or point you in other directions. Through my own research, I’ve discovered that other people in your field of specialization are your best resources. Below is a link the Eastman School of Music’s conference on Shostakovich. Check it out, and best of luck!


Christopher Bazil: ROHO

March 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

The ROHO archives are very interesting. One thing I am finding out is that you really have to put in work if you want to find something at ROHO. Many of the documents that I viewed through ROHO’s website were formatted (digitally) in different ways, so that each document had its own quirks for browsing and navigation. Also, the two oral histories that I read through reminded me of autobiographies; lots of great information, but also a lot of digging in order to discover something of interest (a whole life story is a lot to skim through). That being said, ROHO is an amazing resource, and I am excited to have it in my 101 tool shed.

I looked at ROHO’s section on Land Use Planning and Architecture/Landscape Architects to try to find some relevant resources for my topic. I knew that most of the histories would be from that latter part of the twentieth century, and since my topic is from the 1910’s, I decided to look through parts of interviews that specifically addressed architectural history. In other words, there are a few sections in each document where the interviewer specifically asks the interviewees to reflect upon how they interpreted or perceived the time period before their careers had begun. This perspective is great because it gives us a chance to understand how people viewed the history of the build environment, architecture, or land use of say, the 1930’s, from the perspective of the 1970’s. Cool!

Here are a couple of links to the two oral histories that I think are really neat. The first is from Joseph Esherick, whom all you Bay Area architectural history buffs will surly recognize. And the other is from Richard Bender, who was the dean of the College of Environmental Design from 1976-88. Enjoy!

P.S. I really like that both of these oral histories include a full-page picture of the person being interviewed. It is a nice touch to an otherwise basic document.

Christopher Bazil: Newspapers

March 8, 2013 § Leave a comment


This week I spent a lot of time looking through Pro Quest. I found that it is easier to search for items by not using filters. With a topic like Sears Modern Homes, a search using all databases rather than just ‘architecture’ reveals much better results. Sometimes newspaper articles can be tagged under topics such as ‘business,’ and using a filter would have limited your search results from listing other articles. For example, many of the newspaper articles I found are tagged under ‘economics or business’ databases because they talk about home sale prices or quarterly earnings.

It is well know that during the 1930’s, Sears Roebuck destroyed all of its records for the ‘Building Department.’ This means that finding hard data on home sales and other statistics is hard to come by, and is often not mentioned in other historical works about the subject. To my surprise, I found some great newspaper articles from the 1920’s out of the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Daily Tribune that talk about Sears Modern Homes data! I also created a Pro Quest “Research” account, which allows you to tag or track all of the articles you are interested in. This is a wonderful tool to keep track of things, and to reference them later if you did not have time to read them the first time.

Here are a couple links to some interesting articles I found using Pro Quest:

Also, thanks to Katie, I have discovered to joys of  ‘Page View’ for newspaper articles. This is a seemingly insignificant discovery, yet I find it incredibly helpful for putting the article into a larger context about the time it was published.

Christopher Bazil: Exploring the Bancroft

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

William F. Lewis

Wow, I can’t say enough about today’s trip to the Bancroft Library. I could have easily spent the entire day looking through the items that I called up!

This week I spent some time looking through OskiCat in order to locate some potential research materials specifically located at the Bancroft. Like some of our fellow class members have mentioned, the Bancroft collection is amazing, but can also seem limited depending on what you are looking for. I found some great historical resources for architectural stuff, mostly about Victorian era home. Here is a list of the items I went to check out:

William F. Lewis: A San Francisco House Builder

Documentation of Victorian and post Victorian residential and commercial buildings, City of Alameda

Heritage Lost: Two Grand Portland Houses Through the Lens of Minor White

The Heritage Lost text is incredibly beautiful. The book combines insightful text about 1940’s era sentiments towards Victorian buildings, and includes an amazing collection of black and white photos. The two houses pictured were documented because there were about to be torn down. The two houses represent some of the highest order of Queen Anne style architecture ever assembled in the United States. If you think San Francisco has some epic houses, think again. This book is incredibly sad because it represents a major part of our collective heritage that is forever lost.  Heritage Lost could become a good source for my research topic because it helps clearly define the period in which American’s stopped building in this style. It clearly defines a shift in American attitudes towards the image of “home.”

I had really high hopes for the post Victorian, Alameda text. It turns out that the book is a collection of hard data on nearly every home build in the City of Alameda before 1907. A great resource for someone looking to perhaps find out more about a house they live in, yet not much use for me. It’s sorta like a phone book but for house data. It includes the year built, cost, original owner, and very few have the architects listed. I must admit though, I really admire the guy who put this together; in his introduction, he claims that it took him ten years to do all the research!

And finally, William F. Lewis: A San Francisco House Builder. This text takes the cake. This is the story of William F. Lewis, a man who worked as a carpenter and home builder during the San Francisco housing boom of the 1870’s and 1880’s. There is tons of information in here, and tells a story not often heard — the one about the people who swung hammers to build our great cities. The text was written by a San Francisco historian who interviewed Lewis’ son right before he died. It combines oral history and primary research to paint a vivid picture of what life was like back then. More than anything, this text is a great example of what an excellent 101 could be. I will definitely refer to this book when my 101 comes around!