Thursday, December 03, 2009

Secrets of the State revealed in Marin County


Mt. Tamalpais circa 1922
Courtesy of Marin County Free Library. Anne T. Kent California Room

I went to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center in Marin on Wednesday and  was treated to a nice surprise.

I had gone there to look at some court documents, and was dismayed to find that the records office had closed at 12:30 pm, due to budget cuts. I had a few hours to kill before a talk, so I wandered to the Marin County library on the fourth floor. There I stumbled upon something I had never heard of: the Anne T. Kent California History Room.

This is an amazing space (really just a portioned section of the library) containing a fabulous collection of books, newspaper clippings, ephemera, and photographs. I looked at some books I had not been able to track down during my research for Towers of Gold and saw others I really wanted to browse through. The collection is wonderful. There was a complete run of the San Francisco Blue Book, a sort of society-oriented phone book, numerous oral histories of Marin County residents, early voter registration records, and books on all the other sections of California.

Marin County Librarian Virginia Keating started collecting material in the 1930s and the room is named after Anne T. Kent, who led the way in the 1920s to establish the county’s free library system.

Its photographs are on-line.

I have to return to Marin to look at those court files. It will be difficult not to spend my time poking around instead in the history room.

1 comment:

Meghan Ward said...

Frances, I've spent a lot of time at that civic center recently (for a small claims case) and love that building. I didn't know about the library, though, or the history room. I'll look for them the next time I'm there.