by the Past
fall, graduate student Rebecca Schall accomplished a gargantuan task.
She sifted through books and articles at the San Francisco Public Library,
conducted interviews with longtime residents across the city, and published
"Historic Photos of San Francisco" (Turner Publishing, '06),
a book that takes readers on a tour of the City by the Bay from 1860
to the 1960s.
"Anyone who flips through this book can learn quite a bit,"
says Asssociate Professor Sarah Curtis. "Rebecca crammed as much
history as possible into the text and captions."
Schall, who will graduate with her master's degree in history this summer,
spent her childhood exploring Ocean Beach and the ruins of the Sutro
Baths. "I cannot remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by the
history of San Francisco," she says. When word spread through her
department that a publisher needed a historian/writer to delve into
the city's history, Schall jumped at the chance. Her passion for the
subject and her research and writing skills landed her the book contract.
"Rebecca combined her long-standing interest in the city with skills
she learned in the history program," Curtis says. "It's a
book about local history but she puts it in a broader context to explore
the subject of urban life."
book includes a rare photo of an 1861 Civil War pro-Union rally in San
Francisco at Post and Montgomery streets. Schall points out that the
frequent rallies that took place in the area earned it the moniker Union
Square. "Most people do not realize that San Francisco had any
role in the Civil War, or that San Francisco civilian life was impacted
by it," Schall says. "But it was California gold that largely
financed the Northern war effort." Civil War-era San Francisco
was the topic of her undergraduate honors thesis at Occidental College.
Schall enrolled at SF State after learning that its history master's
program had a reputation for academic excellence, sending more of its
students on to earn Ph.Ds than any other stand-alone master's program
in the nation. She benefited from small class sizes and supportive professors,
she says, describing her SF State education as "the most rewarding
academic and intellectual experience I have ever had."
During the spring semester, Schall taught English to French engineering
students in Paris and dug through the city's archives. Later this summer
she will finish her second book for Turner, "Historic Photos of
Paris," and return to the U.S. to start teaching history at The
International School of the Peninsula.
For more information: www.rebeccaschall.com