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The library often receives requests from people who would like to obtain a copy of an obituary for a loved one who passed away locally. These requests come from all over the world! For over 150 years, obituaries have appeared in the San Jose Mercury News . Some requests are for those doing genealogical research, and know that many obituaries contain detailed information about long lost family members that can be hard to find elsewhere. Others simply want a record of the death of their parent, aunt, or cousin. Unfortunately, we realized a number of years ago that we were...Read more...
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Damage to the Dougherty and Louise buildings on Second and San Fernando after the 1906 earthquake
This month we are looking back at the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake in the City of San José. While the greatest casualties in the county were at Agnews State Hospital, the City of San José saw a great deal of destruction and loss of life that has largely been overshadowed by San Francisco's destruction. Overall, the city suffered $3,000,000 in property damage and lost 16 lives on that April 18th morning. How the city came through the disaster however, is this story's true significance. Like San Francisco’s experience in the 1906 earthquake, San José’s suffering was heightened by fires...Read more...
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Agnews Asylum upon completion in 1888.
This week we are looking back at the Agnews State Hospital. The hospital is most famously known as the site of the greatest loss of life in Santa Clara County after the 1906 earthquake. Eleven officials and over one-hundred patients were crushed when the main treatment building collapsed. But the history of Agnews is more interesting than this grim memory. Agnews State Hospital, originally known as the “Great Asylum for the Insane,” finished construction in 1888 at a cost of around $750,000. Located in the area known at the time as Agnew Station, Agnews State Hospital was the premier California...Read more...
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color postcard of downtown San Jose with Light Tower in background
San José's history is full of interesting stories and anecdotes. The story of the San José Electric Light Tower that spanned the intersection of Market and Santa Clara Streets until 1915 is no different. The electric tower has become a symbol of the city's past. The idea of the electric tower was conceived by James Jerome Owen. A resident of Santa Clara County since the 1860s, Owen was fascinated by the potential of electric lighting. As proprietor and editor of the San Jose Daily Mercury , Owen used his editorial page to advocate for his electric tower idea. In June,...Read more...
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Blossoms in bloom
In the history of San José, before the tech growth and boom from the 1960s to the present, the most significant industry in the Santa Clara Valley was in agricultural products. While the agricultural and horticultural production of the valley was limited before American statehood (1850), by 1890 the valley had a total of 4,454,945 fruit trees, a doubling in only a decade. In 1915, the tally stood at some 7,829,677, a healthy 57% increase. Around the turn of the century, after a drought had damaged the valley's production and pride, an individual by the name of Edwin Sidney Williams...Read more...
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Senator James D. Phelan's Villa Montalvo
Villa Montalvo is the former residence of California businessman and politician James Duval Phelan. Taken between 1915-1902, this photo illustrates the estate's grandeur, but also how little it has changed since its construction. Construction of this Mediterranean style mansion began in 1912, before James Phelan became the first popularly elected Senator from California. A prominant member of the fraternal organization, The Native Sons of the Golden West, Phelan's rise in politics came in part from his successful leadership as a progressive Mayor of San Francisco (in office Jan 4, 1897 - Jan, 7 1902). His reputation as a polititian assured...Read more...
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Jill Bourne
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Jill Bourne has been named Director of Libraries for the City of San José by City Manager Debra Figone. The San José City Council ratified the appointment today to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Jane Light in 2012. Bourne comes from San Francisco Public Library, where she has served as Deputy City Librarian since 2006. Known as a rising leader in the library community, she was named as a Library Journal "Mover and Shaker" in 2009 and a "Top Innovator" by the Urban Libraries Council in 2010. "Jill Bourne brings excellent experience from...Read more...
A View of the Electric Light Tower
Interested in historic images of Santa Clara County? The San Jose Public Library's California Room and SJSU Special Collections and University Archives share a database of images from their collections. The King Library Digital Collections database offers a vast wealth of scanned and digitized images of Santa Clara Valley’s past that document the history of the Valley from its agricultural beginnings to a bustling metropolis. These images can be searched by keyword or by collection. Some selections include: Photographs of dusty Santa Clara Street , filled with horses, buggies and the inter-urban rail line Historic postcards of picturesque scenes around...Read more...
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Every once in awhile we get asked if we offer exam proctoring. The San José Public Library, unfortunately, does not. However, here are some other suggested resources you can try: Public: Alameda County Library 510-745-1500 Daly City Public Library 650-991-8023 San Benito County Free Library 831-636-4107 San Bruno Library 650- 616-7078 Academic: Cal State East Bay 510-885-3662 Gavilan College 408-846-4992 San Francisco State University 415-338-2271 San Jose State University 408-924-5980Read more...
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Anonymous