RSB Books

RSB Books

Richard Schwartz
Writer, Historian

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Click on the book title to be taken to its home page

RSB Books
Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley
Earthquake Exodus, 1906
Berkeley 1900
The Circle of Stones

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SPEAKING SCHEDULE is BELOW these listed Lecture Reviews

"Richard Schwartz has an absolute genius for showing his readers what was going on behind the big headlines -- little-seen graphic images of what the average person saw and experienced and remembered forever."
"Richard Schwartz is living proof that there is no such thing as dull history...The past springs to life through his nimble mind with absolutely no sacrifice of authenticity."

-Mary-Ellen Jones, retired Bancroft Library archivist, UC Berkeley and current editor of the California Historian, the quarterly magazine of the Conference of California Historical Societies

"Besides being an extremely knowledgeable local historian, Richard has a rare gift as a storyteller. When he combines these two roles the result is a wonderful and entertaining evening for his audience. For me, attending one of Richard's lectures is like having a short course from the best possible history professor. You leave having learned a great deal, and having had a most enjoyable time in the process!"

-Arlene Baxter, President, Berkeley Association of Realtors

The History Guild of the Oakland Museum of CA had the good fortune of asking Richard Schwartz to be the speaker at the 2008 annual meeting in June.  One hundred and thirty members attended and were treated to a wonderful, informational presentation by Mr. Schwartz which brought the characters of early Berkeley to life. By the end of the presentation we felt like we  intimately knew the individuals in his book..."

-Yvonne S.  McCredie,  Immediate Past President of the History Guild of the Oakland Museum of California

"Everybody that night was delighted to meet [Richard] and hear his colorful stories full of characters with a Berkeley- San Francisco connection…  
The most impressive thing is this:  he told stories folks had never heard before.  And that says a lot about how deep his digging goes, because we had some veteran history-hounds sitting there in the room that night…Good going Richard!"  

-Lisa Dunseth,  Bernal Heights Branch Library Manager,  San Francisco Public Library

"The audience at this Arts and Culture Salon was enraptured by Richard’s presentation, and his description of the heroic fire horses of San Francisco particularly entertained and moved me…my husband has been enjoying the book, Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley, which I purchased at the event."
-Elizabeth Thacker-Estrada, Excelsior Branch Library Manager, San Francisco Public Library

"Richard Schwartz is a fabulous storyteller of Berkeley’s history. As a pertinent example, at the Berkeley Public Library, Richard presented stories and slides from Earthquake Exodus, 1906...He made that incredible time come vividly alive with unforgettable and carefully researched vignettes.  He tells unique stories about a unique city...'

-Allan Bern, Community Relations Librarian, Berkeley Public Library

"Richard Schwartz is an amazing speaker. I have seen four of his presentations, and all were excellant, and each featured unique content...Schwartz has clearly done substantial research in historical archives, but he has also  discovered much more through diligent legwork.  The history of Native American life in pre-European times is an area of his special expertise.  He has discovered a number of historic sites and he is working with local authorities to protect them from vandalism... My personal favorite of Richard's yarns is his account of finding a cannonball in Codornices Creek in North Berkeley.
 Our East Bay Regional Parks Volunteer Hiking Patrol was enthralled by Richard's lecture on Native American sites in the local parklands."

-Amellia Marshall, Co-Chair, East Bay Regional Parks Volunteer Hiking Patrol

An Audubon walk I led on a cold, quiet January morning at Redwood Regional Park was one of the more challenging in years; for finding and seeing birds that is. But 'challenging' turned to 'engaging' when Richard began a 30 minute talk about the astonishing history of our Redwoods. Everyone was riveted and many thanked me afterwards for adding this historical dimension to a nature walk. Richard saved the day. He really did. Anyone who has not heard his recounting should seek this out. You will never view the East Bay Redwoods the same way again.

-Rusty Scalf, Audubon Society Field Trip Leader

"Richard speaks with contagious enthusiasm about the history of Oakland's redwoods. The depth of his knowledge is impressive as he makes unique connections between Oakland's redwoods and California's history."

-Madeline Horn, Associate Director, Peralta Hacienda

"Richard, you are a Berkeley Treasure. Really enjoyed the talk and will see the neighborhood differently and with more open eyes from now on. My husband and I LOVED learning about Thousand Oaks. He said, "It's so good to see someone doing what they are supposed to be doing!"  Your love of local history is contagious. Thanks again."

-Nan Phelps, Nan Phelps Photography

"Thanks again for your wonderful talk to our CERT group--people still discuss the lessons learned from your presentation."

  -Member, Community Emergency Response Team, City of Walnut Creek, CA

"When we decided to offer a special event in October 2015 exploring the Emperor's "imperial diplomacy" in the East Bay and were considering whom to invite as our guest speaker, we quickly reached out to Richard Schwartz, whom we knew from his 2007 book, Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley — which includes an excellent chapter on Emperor Norton. Richard was an engaging speaker and a terrific storyteller. He also had done his homework — mining both the Oakland and Berkeley newspapers of the day and other contemporaneous accounts to present the kinds of details about Emperor Norton that one doesn't usually encounter.
Richard was able to marry all of these skills to create an empathetic portrait of the Emperor — a portrait through which Richard's evident love for the subject matter shone brightly."

-John Lumea, President

"The accolades keep coming in; people loved your discussion.  Thanks for your passion and dedication to the native peoples and keeping their memory alive... Schwartz' talk was informative and thought provoking about  a subject too little discussed today in Berkeley, pre-Columbian civilization in the East Bay.  For over two hours he captivated an audience of over 60  Berkeleyeans with tales of discovery and study of the people who lived in what is now Berkeley centuries ago.  Excellent job Richard!"

-Jef Findley, Berkeley History Room, Berkeley Public Library, Main Branch.

"On Saturday, September 24th, with a standing-room only crowd in attendance, the Contra Costa County Historical Society honored the culture and heritage of the County's first inhabitants.  Author/historian Richard Schwartz gave an excellent introduction to the earliest migrants into what is now California.  He also spoke of the weather and geography changes that gave rise to the landforms that we know today.  He spoke particularly about the imminent destruction of the remaining East Bay Shellmounds and their importance to understanding inhabitants there."

Dean McLeod, Contra Costa Historical Society

Richard Schwartz held the audience in rapt attention when he spoke to the San Leandro Historical Society on June 17, 2017 about the remarkable story of M. B. Curtis. Schwartz knows how to tell a good story, and he is the kind of researcher who dives in to discover and follow the fascinating details and side trails of his subject.

-Cindy Simons, President, San Leandro Historical Society

Richard Schwartz kept our Commonwealth Club audience entertained while informing them about a missing piece of history: the 19th century actor and entrepreneur M.B. Curtis's fascinating life on stage and off.  Schwartz rescues this once-famous man from the dustbin of history, where he did not belong.  Curtis hobnobbed with other celebrities of the time, but was a man of deep substance as well.  Schwartz makes it all clear with a storytelling style that matches his 19th century topic."

-George Hammond,
‎Chairman of the Humanities Forum at The Commonwealth Club of California

Richard Schwartz's Event Dates in 2017- Speaking Events and Media Events

2017 Speaking Events
(Media Events Listed below this section)

March 2, 2017. Oakland Hebrew Day School. Richard will speak with the fifth grade class about local Native American history and how it might effect their lives today. This event is open only to the students. 5500 Redwood Rd., Oakland, 94619.

April 1, 2017. The release of Richard's latest book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis.

mbc portrait

mbc suitcases P+I

April 8, 2017. PUBLIC PARTY EVENT FOR THE RELEASE OF RICHARD'S NEW BOOK: The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. The Berkeley Public Library, North Berkeley Branch. Richard will celebrate the twenty-year endeavor of writing his new book by turning the meeting room of the library  into a 19th century Theatre lobby. Beside the theatre posters, Richard will present a talk about M. B. Curtis and his eccentric exploits, especially in Berkeley. 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707. 5-7pm. Tel. 520-981-6250.


Albina De Mer, actress, wife and partner of M. B. Curtis

April 12, 2017, Pegasus Books on Solano Ave., Berkeley. The opening talk and book signing by Richard Schwartz about his new book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. The talk will cover M. B. Curtis and his mind-boggling exploits in Berkeley in the 1880s and 90s and what indelible marks are left of his presence. 1855 Solano Ave., Berkeley. 7.30 PM.

April 29, 2017. Walking Tour of the Peralta Park Neighborhood by Richard Schwartz, sponsored by Builder's Booksource.
Richard will lead a walk of the area where M. B. Curtis built his magnificent hotel and dream development.
The whole town gathered to watch with excitement the building of Curtis’ massive Moorish-style Peralta Park Hotel. See where his dreams materialized and grew as well as disappeared and how his presence still affects us today. Streets were named by the actor for his family and friends. Stories will be told of the construction of the hotel, the life of the Curtis' in Berkeley and how they made so many generous donations to the town they loved. Richard will also talk about the site of a Native American village and the 1841 adobe home of Domingo Peralta. Tour size is limited.
Meet at the front of 1316 Albina St. in Berkeley at 1:00 p.m. Call Builders Booksource for Reservations. 510-845-6874. Tour tickets $20 or $10 with purchase of book.

The Peralta Park Hotel, built by M. B. Curtis 1888-1891. It was in the middle of his grand development of Peralta Park (image from the book The Man Who Lit Lady liberty).

May 3, 2017, Northbrae Community Church. Richard Schwartz will discuss the evidence of plentiful Native American presence and sites and artifacts in Berkeley that show a use of the land greater than previously thought. Diner at 6.30pm and talk at 7.30pm. 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707
Phone: (510) 526-3805.

May 6, 2017,   Martinez, CA. A joint event between the Martinez Historical Society and the Contra Costa Historical Society at the Shell Alumni Clubhouse. A presentation & book signing by Richard Schwartz of his new book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. The illustrated talk will cover the stories and images of the amazing life and career of immigrant actor M. B. Curtis focusing on his life around the Bay Area and his epic relationship with the Statue of Liberty that had been forgotten until this book. Arreba & Pachco Blvd, Martinez, CA 94553. 1:00 PM

May 18, 2017, Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA), Local Authors Night. Meeting will be held at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church, side entrance. Colusa and Catalina Aves. Berkeley, CA 94707 at 7pm.

May 22, 2017. William Penn House.
Richard will give an illustrated talk about The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 1919 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103. 7 pm.

June 10, 2017. San Leandro Historical Society. Richard will give an illustrated talk about The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 2-3.30pm followed by wine and cheese. At the Little Brown Church (Home of the Historical Society) 384 W. Estudillo Ave., San Leandro, CA. Behind the Casa Peralta. ​Nonmembers are welcome!

June 24, 2017. Byron Park.
Richard will give an illustrated talk about The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 1700 Tice Valley Bvd., Walnut Creek, CA. 925-937-1700. 2pm.


July 11, 2017, The Commonwealth Club of California Humanities Inforum. CLICK ON THE LINK TO THE LEFT TO HEAR A PODCAST OF THE TALK. Richard Schwartz will present an illustrated talk about
his new book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis.
Historian Richard Schwartz will present an illustrated talk about his new book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. This illustrated talk and book signing covers the San Francisco chapters of the life of an incredibly influential immigrant actor of the late nineteenth century. It is the story of immigration, assimilation, of the theatre and the invisible wings of comedy. It is how a play became the way a nation examined its feelings and attitudes towards immigrants  and gave the audiences a chance to walk in shoes they would never have worn. It is the story of the Jewish Jackie Robinson of the stage- the first Jewish male actor who was allowed to portray a Jewish male on stage in America. It is the story of a man's journey of incredible talent and creativity and fame and suffering and perseverance and dreaming. It is a story that involved the actor intimately (though forgotten until this book) with the Statue of Liberty and Mark Twain and New York and San Francisco and murder and the greatest African American entertainment troupe of its time and pioneering stints the still-infant silent movie industry. You are invited to take this journey- the forgotten life of M. B. Curtis- through this illustrated talk by historian Richard Schwartz. The talk will focus on the actor’s early days in San Francisco’s theatrical history and his overnight rise to stardom. The talk will reveal how San Francisco became the actor’s home base from the 1870s through the 1906 Earthquake as he toured the country and how it almost ended his life. 555 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102-9824 Tel (415) 597-6700.  6 PM.

July 16, 2017, The Lafeyette Historicial Society, Richard will present the story of
The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis portrays the success and suffering, the perseverance and dreaming, of a nineteenth-century immigrant who was catapulted overnight to the heights of stardom and riches in America.
M. B. Curtis’s life encompassed the highs of celebrity and fame as well as the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career. What defined him, however, was that he always followed his dreams even in the face of extreme adversity.  The Lafayette Library and Learning Center, Great Hall, 3491 Mt Diablo Blvd, Lafayette, CA 94549. 1-3pm

July 22, 2017. The Berkeley Main Public Library. 
Richard Schwartz will present the story of the most amazing eccentric to ever live in Berkeley from his new book
The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. Curtis did it all. He donated his money for fire station bells, baseball unifroms, a train station, the first electric street lights, and built the largest and most lavish hotel the town had ever seen. M. B. Curtis created excitement wherever he went and people had never seen it and could not get enough of it. He was a true phenomenon. Time to be announced. Berkeley, CA.

July 23, 2017. Afikomen
. Richard will give an illustrated talk on The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 3042 Claremont Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705. 510-655-1977. 3 pm.

August 30, 2017.  California State Library- Program and Book Signing. Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building. 914 Capital Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814. Noon-1.30.

September 19, 2017. Construction Specification Institute, Oakland Chapter. Richard will present an illustrated talk on the building and construction construction angles of the

stories of M. B. Curtis and
Berkeley's Mary Townsend (in Richard's book Eccentrics, Heroes and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley). Scotts Seafood Restaurant, 2 Broadway, Oakland, CA.


October 4, 2017.  Northbrae Community Church. Richard Schwartz will present an illustrated talk about M. B. Curtis and his life in Berkeley and influence on the culture of the

nation. Diner at 6.30pm and talk at 7.30pm. 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707

Phone: (510) 526-3805.

October 5, 2017. National Charity League. Richard will give an illustrated talk on M. B. Curtis' amazing life. Oakland, CA. Details to follow.

October 10, 2017. Litquake and the San Francsico Museum of Performance and Design will be putting on a joint event to celebrate actor M. B. Curtis and Richard's biography of

him, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. October 10, 6-7..30pm. 893B Folsom St., San Francisco. $12, seniors/students $9.50, /passes/members free.

Litquake, San Francisco's annual literary festival, was founded by Bay Area writers in order to put on a week-long literary spectacle for book lovers, complete with cutting-edge

 panels, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings. Since its founding in 1999, the festival has presented close to 8000

author appearances for an audience of over 165,000 in its lively and inclusive celebration of San Francisco's thriving contemporary literary scene. Litquake seeks to foster

 interest in literature, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for Bay Area writing as a complement to the

city's music, film, and cultural festivals.  2017 Dates: 10/6-14.

Rescheduled to March 2018 due to the fires in Sonoma. October 14, 2017. Sonoma Valley Historical Society. Richard Schwartz presents "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty" The

mazing Life Story of M. B. Curtis. "The Man WHo Lit Lady

Liberty" by Richard Schwartz tells the amazing story of immigrant actor M. B. Curtis. Cutis catapulted to overnight stardom in 1880 and was the first American Jewish actor to
portray a Jewish character on stage, using his comedic talent to overcome stereotypes and prejudices of the time. In gratitude for his life in America, Curtis personally paid for

lighting of the Statue of Liberty at a time when Congress would not fund it. A story of stardom and great personal struggles, this book shines a torch on one actor's creativity

and cultural influence that greatly impacted the San Francisco and East Bay areas. SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2017 2:00pm, SONOMA COMMUNITY CENTER 276 East NApa Street,

 Sonoma $5.00 ADMISSION.

October 15, 2017. Oakland Public Library, History Talk Series. Central Library, Main Branch, 125 14th Street, Oakland, CA. (510) 238-3134. Time: 2-3.30pm.

November 5, 2017. Jewish Community Library. Talk and Book Signing. Richard will give an illustrated talk on The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 1835 Ellis St., San Francisco. 1.30-3.30.  Tel. 415-567-3327 x 703.

November 10, 2017. Congregation Sherith Israel. Richard will speak to the Prime Time Club about M. B. Curtis and the realities of San Francisco in the 1870s and 80s. Private Club. San Francisco.

RESCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 21, 2018 as a combined event with other organizations. Details to follow. November 19, 2017. Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. Richard will give an illustrated talk on M. B. Curtis' pioneering silent movie career and reveal previously unknown facts. 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont, CA 94536. 4pm.

December 21, 2017. Temple Beth El Synagogue, Berkeley, CA. Richard will give an illustrated talk on actor M. B. Curtis and Schwartz's book on him, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. 1301 Oxford St., Berkeley. 510-848-3988. 7pm.

2017 Media Events

March 15, 2017. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis is accepted into the Margret Herrick Library.

April 1, 2017.  THE RELEASE OF RICHARD'S LATEST BOOK: The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis. The book is the biography of an incredibly influential immigrant actor of the late nineteenth century.

The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis portrays the success and suffering, the perseverance and dreaming, of a nineteenth-century immigrant who was catapulted overnight to the heights of stardom and riches in America.
Curtis became the first American Jewish actor to portray a Jewish character on stage in this country, using his charisma and comedic talents to overcome common stereotypes and prejudices of the time. But Curtis’s influence spread beyond the stage.

As an immigrant, he couldn’t bear to see the Statue of Liberty go unlit due to congressional deadlock immediately after its dedication, so he paid to have it lit himself. In addition to paying back the country that welcomed him and his family, Curtis had a dramatic impact on the mainstream culture of the day, so much so that Mark Twain asked him to star in a rare stage rendition of one of his books. Curtis then became a pioneer in the nascent silent-film industry, a producer, a real estate developer, a promoter, a hotelier, a benefactor, and a murder suspect. M. B. Curtis’s life encompassed the highs of celebrity and fame as well as the lows of failure, illness, and a faltering career.

M. B. Curtis lived for a time in Berkeley and changed it in significant ways and named many streets. He built the largest building, an incredible Moorish style hotel, ever built in Berkeley in his day. People couldn't get enough of him as he gave away money like it was candy to civic causes. His parties were legend and it was said no one would ever not attend one if they were lucky enough to be invited.

What defined him, however, was that he always followed his dreams even in the face of extreme adversity.
Using New York and San Francisco as his home bases, Curtis and his wife toured the country to great acclaim in the 1880s until being in San Francisco almost ended his life.

April 7, 2017. Frances Dinkelspiel writes article in Berkeleyside entitled, "Richard Schwartz tells terrific tale of world famous actor who transformed Berkeley." Press on the link to be able to read it.

April 14, 2017. This Week in America. Radio Interview about The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty and M. B. Curtis with Ric Bratton on the nationally syndicated show This Week in America. 

this week in america

On You Tube

Blue Funk Broadcasting

I Tunes

Podcast This Week in Amercia

"This is a fascinating book of someone in history I had never heard of until
I started reading the book. And just fascinated by this guy...
He has been dead for a hundred years but his influence is invisibly
effecting us still...We do now know of M. B. Curtis thanks to the book...
That's what's amazing- the resilience [of M.B. Curtis]...Its an excellent
read and leaves you wanting more...and hopefully we'd love to see this on
the big screen because its such an impactful story...
Its an excellent book."
Ric Bratton, Host, This Week in America

APRIL 17, 2017. The History Author Show. Release of Radio Interview on The History Author Show with Dean Karanyanis, iHeart Radio,  about The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty and M. B. Curtis's life and influence.

"M. B. Curtis stares at you from the page- he's still so full of life...he
seems he might just open his mouth and speak to you off the page...Having
read it you take up for the guy...Here is the original is the
pioneer stepping off the Mayflower and doing the funny walk with the big
shoes...laughing with us not laughing at us...this is the guy...{he} really
was a folk hero really deserves to be remembered and he is remembered here,
lovingly, in this wonderful book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty...M. B.
Curtis- he is really worth knowing- what more could you ask for in a book."

Dean Karayanis, Host, The History Author Show

April 23, 2017. Martinez Gazette. Reporter Donna Beth Weilenman interviews Richard Schwartz about M. B. Curtis and the illustrated book talk he will offer through a joint event by the Martinez Museum and the Contra Costa Historical Society on May 5, 2017.

April 24, 2017. East Bay Times. Snapp Shots. Martin Snapp editorializes on M. B. Curtis and Richard Schwartz and the April 29, 2017 walking tour of Peralta Park.

April 27, 2017. WMST, Mount Sterling, KY, "Mornings on Main" with Dan Manly. Dan interviews Richard about The Man Who Lit M. B. Curtis and M. B.'s life. Scroll to 10:30 on the counter to hear the intro and then scroll 40:27 to go to the actual interview with Richard.


wmst logo

"I came so close to passing on an opportunity to talk with Richard Schwartz.
It is one of the most phenomenal books I have ever read. Phenomenal story of
the guy who wrote it. Unbelievable story about the guy who is the subject of
the book.
And how can a guy be universally known in 1900 and unknown in probably 60
years later, certainly a century later nobody knows M. B. Curtis.
...It is written by a guy who is a construction worker. Who has such great
command of the English language that after reading this book I wouldn't
I don't even have the desire to challenge a book. I wouldn't even begin to
try and write a book."
    Dan Manly, Radio Broadcaster WMST, Mount Sterling, Kentucky

May 4, 2017. Publishers Weekly's Book Life reviews The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis.

May 5, 2017. Jewish News of Northern California. In their "Author Author" column, the paper reviews 
The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis.

May 9, 2017, East Bay Times, Entertainment Section New Book Releases. Georgia Rowe reviews The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty in this article.

May 16, 2017. Helping History Happen radio talk show. Host Allison Petengell interviews Richard about  The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty. Posted May  31, 2017. Click on link to listen to the interview.

June 21, 2017. WGVU, PBS NPR Affiliate in Western Michigan, Grand Rapids a service of Grand Valley State University. Live interview by Shelly Irwin about M. B. Curtis and his roots in Detroit, Michigan. Recorded on June 16, the show will air sometime on June 21 on Shelly Irwin's segments on the local NPR affiliate station.


July 11, 2017. Commonwealth Club- link on the link to the left to listen to the podcast of Richard's talk on M. B. Curtis on 7/11/17 at the club.


July 13, 2017. The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia. The Exponent reviews Schwartz's "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty." in the 7/13/17 edition of the paper. Click on the link to the left to be taken to the review.


July 20, 2017. The Oakland Magazine and Alameda Magazine. Click on the underlined link to read the magazines review of The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty.


beth Ruyak

August 30, 2017. KXJZ, Captial Public Radio, Sacramento, on the program "Insights" with host Beth Ruyak 9am. Click on the underlined link to hear the interview with Richard about M. B. Curtis' life story and his links to Sacramento.

October 10, 2017. East Bay Times. Writer Tom Lochner writes a review of The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty.
"The book chronicles the life of Maurice B. Curtis, who gained nationwide fame in the 1880s in the title role of the play “Sam’l of Posen” by George H. Jessop, featuring a Jewish traveling salesman as the hero, somewhat of a novelty in the theater at a time when Jewish characters primarily were laughed at."

October 13, 2017. Jamie Jobb's Backstage Pass, An Inside Peek at Performance. Jamie reviews Richard's book The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty in a rather new and unique way.
 Theater history ignored the incredible biography of M.B. Curtis until Berkeley author/historian/builder Richard Schwartz unearthed the tragedy during two decades of meticulous research for his well-paced Heyday Book, “The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty”. Schwartz is known for his archeologically nuanced books focused on the many eccentricities of Berkeley, but clearly this oddball East Bay character needed his own volume. 

M.B. Curtis’ life was so complex, there’s no space in this book report to delve into the story behind Schwartz’ provocative title – a primary indicator of the actor’s widespread fame in one century but total lack of it in the next. However, reading “The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty” is certainly its own reward and Richard Schwartz deserves every accolade he receives for recalling history’s attention to this incredible Nineteenth Century trouper and local misfit.

While Travis Stewart makes no mention of M.B. Curtis, Richard Schwartz likewise does not refer to the vaudeville book. But both titles read together provide an deep and intensive background in Nineteenth Century theater history which would be impossible to gather otherwise.  

Richard Schwartz's Event Dates in 2016

April 13, 2016. Thousand Oaks Elementary School. BLACKBERRY CREEK, A PLAY. Fifth grade teacher Jenny Wendel has written a play for her fifth grade class that is based on the meeting that Maya Carson and Richard Schwartz had about both the natural history of Blackberry Creek and the cultural and neighborhood history of the Thousand Oaks neighborhood. Everything from the Native American life in the neighborhood to the huge park that almost encompassed the entire neighborhood to a large population of whales breeding in the bay. 840 Colusa Ave, Berkeley, CA 94707. The video of the class performance is be posted on the Berkeley School Board website. Click to watch the video.

May 15, 2016. El Cerrito Trail Trekkers Third Annual Hillside Festival. " Enjoy El Cerrito’s third annual Hillside Festival!  This festival is sponsored by El Cerrito Trail Trekkers and the city’s Environmental Quality Committee and Parks and Recreation Commission and Tree Committee." 2 p.m. Early California Indian Life in the El Cerrito area. Berkeley’s well known historian and author and publisher of RSB books Richard Schwartz will discuss life in El Cerrito before the arrival of Spanish colonists, and about rancho life of the Californios. Meet at the “crossroads,” a spot with breathtaking views. Enter at the first, southernmost, trailhead on Regency Court, the one that has a trailhead sign, and walk downhill a quarter mile. Check the map.

May 28, 2016. Berkeley Public Library, Central Branch. Richard will give an illustrated talk on the hidden Indian Life in Berkeley and the evidence surrounding it. He will demonstrate how the discovery and protection of artifacts and history combine as a powerful tool to begin to understand the extent Native Americans lived within what became the city of Berkeley. He will demonstrate how a culture can be learned or lost by the efforts and actions of current residents and how this history might exist in your own back yard. Community Room, Berkeley Main Library,  2090 Kitterage St., Berkeley, 94704. 1pm. tel 981-6100.

September 24, 2016. Native American Day in Contra Costa County. The Contra Costa County Historical Society. The Society will celebrate a day to raise awareness of the presence and culture of the area's first residents. Dan McLeod will speak about the Miwok Chupcan village by the event location and Richard Schwartz will present on the history of the West Berkeley Site and the challenges it faces to survive. 11am-12.30pm.  Willow Pass Community Center, 2748 E. Olivera Road, Concord, CA. Admission is free. RSVP requested by CCHS. (925) 229-1042 or email

December 4, 2016. Sunday. 
Native Berkeley Ancient Wisdom for Troubled Times
, 2pm North Berkeley Senior Center (Hearst Ave and MLK Blvd, Berkeley) A Presentation and Panel Discussion featuring:

    -Vincent Medina. Outreach coordinator for the quarterly magazine, News from Native California and board member of Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival, Medina traces his ancestry to the Native villages of the East Bay. He is a fluent speaker of Chochenyo, the language of Berkeley.
    -Malcolm Margolin. Author of The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the San Francisco-­‐Monterey Bay Area, founder &   publisher emeritus of Heyday Books and News from Native California, Margolin will give an overview of 12,000 years of human habitation of the Berkeley area.
    -Kent Lightfoot. Archaeologist, Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Berkeley, and author of the Natural History of California Indians, Lightfoot will discuss the village site on Fourth Street (the area around Spenger’s park lot).
    -Richard Schwartz. Historian and author of several books on the history of Berkeley, Schwartz will show slides of mortar holes, petroglyphs, deposits of shell beads, stone chips, and other signs of the Indian past that abound in Berkeley.
    -Linda Yamane, Rumsien Ohlone, has mastered several traditional Native arts, including basketry (her baskets have been commissioned by the Oakland Museum and other leading institutions), boat building, song, language, food, storytelling, and more.
    -Quirina Luna-Geary, Mutsun Ohlone, noted for her revival of the Mutsun language, has recently been researching Native dance traditions and dance regalia.
    -VincentMedina (see above) will tell stories and discuss his work in bringing back language and other aspects of traditional culture.

The program will conclude with a panel discussion by the various participants on what all residents of Berkeley might gain from a better understanding of Native heritage. Reservations strongly encouraged, as seating is limited.
Tickets are $8-­‐10, with no one turned away for lack of funds. Tickets available at  For more information, please email

Richard Schwartz's Event Dates in 2015
5/17/15 El Ceritto City Hillside Festival The City of El Ceritto is celebrating its purchase of the Hillside Open Space area. There will be a day of talks and events relating this beautiful nature area.
On this day, Richard will present an outdoor talk in the Hillside Natural Area about the environment and people in the El Ceritto vicinity in the days before the American presence in 1850. To find hillside meeting place, start at the southernmost, trailhead on Regency Court, the one that has a trailhead sign. Follow the signs or flags to the meeting place with amazing bay views and a chance to travel back to another world worth knowing. 2 p.m. Further details at:


5/21/15, Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association. Richard will give an illustrated talk on the early history around the Thousand Oaks area, from its Indian heritage to the wild ranch days, to the brink of a Golden Gate Park in our neighborhood, to the railroads and developement. The area was named with good reason. The talk will consentrate on the history around what is now Solano Avenue. "Local author Richard Schwartz has been described by critics as charming, amusing, factual, poignant, and always revealing. A popular speaker, he has written absorbing books on our city's history, including Eccentrics, Heroes and Cutthroats ofOldBerkeley and Berkeley 1900, as well as works on regional history. Be sure to join us for some fascinating stories about our particular comer of Berkeley." Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association. Meeting will be held at the Thousand Oaks Baptist Church, side entrance. Colusa and Catalina Aves. 7pm.

5/29/15 Conference of California Historical Societies The Conference is holding its annual meeting in Burlingame, CA. Richard Schwartz will give a workshop on researching history utilizing old newspapers, how to do it, how to quickly navigate a particular newspaper, how to organize your finds, document and notate them, making your research time well spent.  He will explain the great values of using information found in newspapers and any possible suspect aspects of this material. Richard will address both the minute information and the many unconscious cultural traits that can be gleaned from a newspaper as well as the surprise wells of information found by accident. He will show how information and reporting met the needs of the reader and newspaper companies of the day and how those needs changed over time. Schwartz will also explain how newspaper research methods have dramtically changed in the almost twenty years he has had been at it.
"Richard is an expert on the subject; he has authored several highly popular book about Berkeley and the Bay Area based on daily newspaper accounts of its past." CCHS

Following the newspaper workshop, Richard will give an illustrated talk: 
Did you ever wonder what it is like to be in largest known historic
earthquake unleashed on the Hayward Fault? Richard Schwartz will share
first-hand accounts of people who lived through the October 21, 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake. Their stories are riveting. The severity of the damage of the 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake will haunt you and it should. Fissures opened in the earth. Beds flew from one side of a room to the other and back. People in some locations fell and were unable to rise for the duration of the quake. Damage and deaths occurred around the bay. 
Schwartz will utilize photos, illustrations and newspapers to illuminate the history in the Bay Area before, during, and after the event and reveal the cultural changes that occurred because of this quake.
As the USGS predicts that these major eruptions occur on the Hayward Fault, on average, every 140 years, this talk is a must-attend event for anyone who wants to know what this historic blueprint may inform us of about what is in store for us at any moment.
 Schwartz has lectured on this subject to the “1868 Earthquake Alliance” at Mission San Jose on the “Commemoration of the 140th Anniversary of 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake” in 2008, at the Associated Bay Area Governments headquarters in Oakland, and other municipalities, events, and societies.