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[BKARTS] San Francisco Public Library Exhibition: " How to Survive an Earthquake: A Humorous Look at San Francisco, 1906"

17 March 2006						415.557.4277

San Francisco Public Library Presents


Exhibition: April 1 through May 31, 2006

San Francisco-The Marjorie G. and Carl W. Stern Book Arts and Special
Collections Center and the Daniel Koshland San Francisco History Center
are pleased to present "How to Survive an Earthquake: A Humorous Look at
San Francisco, 1906," a look at the bright side of a topsy-turvy world
during the disoriented days of April 1906 and the months afterward.
Books selected from the Schmulowitz Collection of Wit & Humor (SCOWAH),
along with ephemera, photographs, and artifacts from the San Francisco
History Center will be on display April 1 through May 31, in the
Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor, Main Library, Civic Center. 

On April 18, 1906, the great San Francisco Earthquake turned the city
upside down and inside out. Newspaper headlines around the world shouted
the horrors of death, fire and ruin, and the destruction of the sinful
Barbary Coast. An estimated three thousand San Franciscans were killed,
and for many survivors, homes and livelihoods were destroyed in the span
of three days. Accounts describe the challenges of living in the ruined
city, but less emphasized is the use of humor as a survival tactic
during this period. How did San Franciscans use their wit & good humor
to get through the days and nights, to distract themselves from the
wholesale destruction of their beloved city? What kind of inner strength
did it take to rebuild a new and brighter city? This exhibition examines
how San Franciscans turned their disaster into gold: with wit & humor as
their tools, they rebuilt their beloved San Francisco.

The San Franciscans of 1906 were singular in their cheerful response to
this monumental calamity. They found enjoyment in the everyday: whether
it was show tunes played on a salvaged piano, creating instant community
in a refugee camp; joining in the new roller skating fad; exchanging
hearty laughs over a good joke; enjoying a tented vaudeville
performance; crossing the bay to Oakland to greet the circus as it
paraded through town, or trading gossip at a simple hillside picnic:
shared humor eased the pain of loss, giving San Franciscans the ability
to leave behind the "City That Was" and build the "City That Knows How."

Located in the Book Arts & Special Collections Center of the Main
Library, SCOWAH is a unique library resource: a non-circulating research
collection focusing on the humorous treatment of all subjects. Presented
as a gift to the San Francisco Public Library in 1947 by Nat
Schmulowitz-attorney, bibliophile, and humanitarian-the collection has
grown to its present state of over 20,000 volumes in thirty-five
languages, covering more than 400 years of wit & humor. The annual
SCOWAH exhibition, which opens every April Fools Day, is a tribute to
Mr. Schmulowitz's generosity and lifelong interest in the Library, and
highlights some of the treasures that may be found in the collection.
This exhibition honors both the founding of SCOWAH and the memory of the
courageous people of San Francisco.

Programs at the San Francisco Public Library are free and open to the

For more information about this and other book arts events, please
contact the Center at 415.557.4560 or at

# # #

Asa Peavy, Program Manager
Marjorie G. & Carl W. Stern Book
Arts & Special Collections Center
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
T: 415.557.4560
F: 415.437.4849
Currently at SF's Main Library, both running through March 19, 2006:
"BookWorks 2006," the Pacific Center for the Book Arts members'
exhibition. 6th Floor, Skylight Gallery.
"On the Road: The Jack Kerouac Manuscript," a 120-foot long scroll
consisting of a series of single-spaced typed twelve-foot long rolls of
paper that have been taped together. The exhibit also features books on
Kerouac and the Beats from the Book Arts & Special Collections Center.
Lower Level, Jewett Gallery.
The Main Library is located at 100 Larkin St.; the main entrance is on
Grove St., across from the Civic Center BART station.

           The Guild of Book Workers' Centennial Celebration:
              October 12-14, 2006, New York City, New York.
             For all your subscription questions, go to the
                      Book_Arts-L FAQ and Archive.
          See <http://www.philobiblon.com> for full information

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