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1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance

Activities & Events

Snapshot Chronicles: Inventing the American Photo Album -- Featuring Personal Albums Documenting the 1906 Earthquake and Fire

San Francisco Public Library

At the turn of the 20th century, the emergence of inexpensive, portable cameras made it possible for many people to record their lives in pictures for the first time. Snapshot Chronicles begins with the premise that the sudden access of the camera into public and private domains--the home, the workplace, at special occasions--meant that men, women, and even children became the authors of individualized visual biographies. Unlike a single snapshot that focuses attention on a single moment, photo albums offered people the challenge of assembling their photographs into sequential narratives.

The albums in this exhibition reveal the creativity, whimsy, and curiosity of early amateur photographers. Album makers freely experimented with visual and material techniques, from creative cropping, shredding, silhouetting, and patterning, to the addition of witty text and the arrangement of photos into compelling narratives.

The centerpiece of the exhibition at the San Francisco Public Library features 1906 photo albums made by San Francisco residents and tourists to the City who witnessed and took photos of the earthquake devastation and fire and chronicled their experiences in their personal photo albums. Presented by the San Francisco History Center.

Snapshot Chronicles is from the collection of Barbara Levine and is organized by the Douglas F. Cooley Gallery at Reed College. A fully illustrated 200 page exhibition catalogue is co-published by Reed College and Princeton Architectural Press.

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Exhibit opening program: Sunday, April 9, 2006 at 2 pm
Jewett Gallery, Main Library
Enjoy a gallery walk-through and book signing with curator Barbara Levine.

Exhibit runs from April 8 - August 20, 2006
Jewett Gallery hours:
Mon: 10 am - 5:30 pm
Tue - –Thu: 9 am - 7:30 pm
Fri: 12– Noon - 5:30 pm
Sat: 10 am - 5:30 pm
Sun: 12 Noon - 4:30 pm


San Francisco Main Library
Jewett Gallery, Lower Level
100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
San Francisco, CA 94102


Centerpiece focuses on 1906 earthquake albums


General public. All programs at the library are free.


Sherri Eng, (415) 557-4282

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