News Archive

The History Mill

June 21, 2021 

We are excited to announce the premiere episode of the Library's newest podcast, the History Mill! Join Natalie Snoyman, History Room Librarian, as we learn about, celebrate, and share the lesser-known histories of Mill Valley.

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Mapping Mill Valley History

May 17, 2021 

Have you ever found yourself looking at a building downtown, wondering what it looked like in the past? Check out our new project Mapping Mill Valley History!

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Vaccine Dreams: Looking Back to Marin's "K.O. Polio" Campaign

December 17, 2020 

Earlier this week, the first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in California, with five healthcare workers in Los Angeles taking the first doses. Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state's initial plans to distribute the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine one week ago, leading History Room Archivist Natalie Snoyman to dig deep into our collections and consider other mass inoculation events that took place here in Marin County to eradicate polio.

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"Talkin' 'bout Mill Valley"

July 9, 2020 

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of Rita Abrams's hit song "Mill Valley," the History Room traces the tune's trajectory and its lasting impact with a digital exhibit.

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Documenting the Present for the Future

May 29, 2020 

There are many similarities to be observed between the 1918 flu and the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to understand how Mill Valley was affected by the 1918 pandemic, I turned to our collection documenting the city’s local history.

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Oral History Spotlight: "Rebels with a Cause" in the Archives

February 27, 2020 

In honor of this month’s First Wednesday program sponsored by the Mill Valley Historical Society and Mill Valley Public Library, we are celebrating the work of a myriad of environmentalists and everyday heroes who stepped up to protect open spaces here in Marin and across the country.

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Oral History Spotlight: Play Ball!

January 23, 2020 

Baseball is a primary thorough line in the history of sport and recreation in Mill Valley. Mill Valley old-timers fondly recall the days when youngsters and adults alike would gather to play or watch baseball, whether it was joining pick-up games among youthful friends or watching semipro teams play at Boyle Park.

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Oral History Spotlight: Celebrating the Legacy of the Fall Arts Festival

September 11, 2019 

The Fall Arts Festival, original called the Mill Valley Harvest Festival, premiered in 1957 and ran for nine days (over the years the event has been trimmed to two days). Held in Lytton Square, this communal celebration included a fashion show, costume parade, sidewalk foliage displays, and of course, local artists displaying their works in store windows.

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Oral History Spotlight: She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

June 13, 2019 

For more than 30 years, the Mt. Tamalpais and Muir Woods Scenic Railway was an iconic feature of Mill Valley’s physical and cultural landscape. As William Provines recalls in his Oral History, the railway “was a focal point for people who lived here, and it also attracted thousands of people from all over the world,” turning the sleepy little town of Mill Valley into an international tourist destination.

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Building History in 3D

September 10, 2018 

Calling all teens! The Mill Valley Public Library's "Building History in 3D" internship program is back for another season. If you're a high school student or you know a student who might be interested in 3D modeling, architecture, or virtual reality, check out our program.

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Stories of Druid Heights

June 25, 2018 

Share your stories about the Muir Woods enclave where Alan Watts, Elsa Gidlow and other literary luminaries once lived. Or come and listen as others discuss this unique bohemian community. Author and former Druid Heights resident Hallie Iglehart Austen will moderate.

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100th Anniversary of the Women's Dipsea Hike

April 5, 2018 

On Saturday, April 21st, some 500 participants will take to the Dipsea Trail in a ceremonial hike to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Women's Dipsea Hike. The trailblazing Hike, which began in 1918 and took place once a year through 1922, was the first-ever cross country sporting event in the United States organized exclusively for women.

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Oral History Spotlight: Summer of Love, Winter of Discontent

January 4, 2018 

This past year, Bay Area institutions hosted events to celebrate the free-spirited ebullience of the 1967 Summer of Love. But as author and Mill Valley Oral History Program interviewee David Talbot notes in Season of the Witch, one summer of love led to several winters of discontent, and the San Francisco of yore was “(re)born howling, in blood and strife.” As we shift into the new year and reflect back, it’s worth asking: When San Francisco’s soul was howling in agony, what did it mean for Mill Valley’s inner psyche? A dive into the archives of the Mill Valley Oral History Program reveals the unique pastiche of individual experiences that set the pulse of a once-sleepy satellite town.

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Meet us on Miller! | November 4th, 12-4pm

October 30, 2017 

On Saturday, November 4th, meet the Mill Valley Library on Miller! Stop by the Mill Valley Library/Mill Valley Historical Society booth at MillerFest, a community celebration of the new Miller Avenue. Don’t miss a Historical Society-led tour at 12:30pm to explore the history of Mill Valley’s oldest thoroughfare.

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First Wednesday - A Cult of Beauty |November 1st, 7pm

October 27, 2017 

Historian Cameron Binkley will talk about Laura Lyon White’s life and legacy, her central role in the late nineteenth-century women’s civic movement, and the organizations she created or led, including Mill Valley’s Outdoor Art Club. White was a leading citizen of San Francisco during the Progressive era, and one of the founders of Mill Valley.

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Celebrating 40 Years of the Mill Valley Film Festival: Introducing a new collection

October 6, 2017 

It’s film festival season in Mill Valley! The Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) officially kicked off last night, and this year marks a very special occasion – the Festival’s 40th anniversary. In celebration of this milestone, the Mill Valley Public Library collaborated with the California Film Institute, the nonprofit which produces the MVFF, to add more than 600 photographs, posters, souvenir guidebooks, and other ephemera to our collection.

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First Wednesday - Marin County Railroad Tunnels | August 2nd, 7pm

July 31, 2017 

Please join us for an illustrated presentation focusing on the railroad tunnels in Marin given by one of MVHS’s favorite speakers, local historian Richard Torney. A lifelong resident of Marin County and fourth generation California native, Richard has long been interested in railroads, and his talks have been popular all over Marin.

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Historical Treasure Hunt & Exhibition | June 12-Sept. 30

June 12, 2017 

Summer is the perfect time to find hidden treasures of Mill Valley. Whether natural phenomenon or local historical landmarks, there is much to discover. Visit the Mill Valley Public Library’s lower level gallery space to photos of significant places and historical artifacts that exist right here in our own backyard and take part in our Historical Treasure Hunt.

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First Wednesday - Operation Storm | June 7th, 7pm

June 7, 2017 

Did you know that the California coast was swarming with Japanese submarines in the weeks immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack? Writer John Geoghegan discusses his book Operation Storm: Japan's Top Secret Submarines and Its Plan to Change the Course of World War II .

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Oral History Spotlight: Local Government, Real Change

May 18, 2017 

Unlike those in Washington, the people who shape Mill Valley are close enough for a handshake and a conversation. Four oral histories - Jean Barnard, Don Hunter, Dick Spotswood and Anne Solem - tackle the intricacies of local government behind the walls of City Hall. What were the motivations behind the landscape we see today? Read on for a taste of local political life, along with links to the full recordings and transcripts for these four richly detailed, honest and empowering interviews.

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Mill Valley Historical Society's 40th Annual Walk into History | May 28th

May 15, 2017 

This year, the Mill Valley Historical Society honors the history of community action that has “fueled” this town. Learn the history of the Fire Department, make your way around the center of town and meet some amazing people who helped to make Mill Valley what it is today through their creative and generous actions. The walk begins at the famous Outdoor Art Club and ends at the Depot Clock Tower.

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First Wednesday: Crookedest Railway in the World | March 1st, 7pm

February 27, 2017 

Join us Wednesday, March 1st for an invigorating ride through Mill Valley’s unique past as author, historian, archivist, and scenic railroad enthusiast Fred Runner talks about the railroad and Howard Folker’s carefully hand crafted model of a Tamalpais (Shay) engine, now on display in the Mill Valley Library’s Lucretia Little History Room.

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Oral History Interview Spotlight: Rita Abrams, 1970

January 27, 2017 

Rita Abrams' "Mill Valley" song spans decades and oceans. A chance encounter with the song transports one library staffer right back to "the little place where life feels very fine and free." Join us as we revisit the spirit of Mill Valley through Rita's classic, 1970 oral history interview. Does Rita's idyllic picture of Mill Valley still hold true? Click through for the story, audio excerpts and a link to the full interview and transcript.

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On Display Now: Disappearing Businesses

October 13, 2016 

The History Room’s latest historical photography exhibition, Disappearing Businesses, provides a look at how local businesses have been impacted by market competition, population growth and technological change, among other forces.

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Historical Mill Valley newspapers now online

September 20, 2016 
Nearly 1,000 issues of two Mill Valley newspapers are now available online through the California Digital Newspaper Collection, a freely accessible, searchable database of digitized California newspapers. Visitors to the site can now delve into the history of early Mill Valley by browsing or text searching the Mill Valley Independent (1908-1910) and the Mill Valley Record (1907-1923).
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Third-Grade Local History Bingo

June 30, 2016 

Summer’s here, school’s out, and one Mill Valley student has wrapped up his third-grade year with a whole lot of Mill Valley history knowledge and a fun goody bag filled with local prizes.

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Introducing Mill Valley History Online

October 24, 2015 

The History Room is excited to introduce Mill Valley History Online, our new online collections database! Mill Valley History Online is a digital sampling of the History Room’s collection of photographs, oral histories, and other materials.

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