RSB Books

RSB Books

Richard Schwartz
Writer, Historian

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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 2020- Speaking Events and Media Events

February 8, 2020. Berkeley Public Library Foundation. The Berkeley Public Library Foundation will honor author Richard Schwartz at their "Berkeley Public Library Foundation's 18th Annual Authors Dinner." Berkeley City Club.  2315 Durant Ave., Berkeley, CA 94707. 510-848-7800. "This event spotlights the Bay Area’s literary tradition and celebrates the authors who enrich our community. Proceeds from the event fund library innovations, capital improvements, and expand literacy projects that help make a strong public library possible. This year’s event will be held at the prestigious Berkeley City Club. The evening begins with a cocktail reception, an opportunity for authors and guests to mingle, followed by dinner, where each author is seated with a group of library-loving guests and introduced briefly to the attendees at large by the evening’s host emcees. Our 2020 hosts include Emmy Award winner Linda Schacht Gage, Pulitzer Prize author T.J. Stiles, and SF Chronicle columnist and author Vanessa Hua. For a peek at what to expect, you can view our gallery from the 2019 gathering here.

The Foundation raises funds to benefit all five locations of the Berkeley Public Library by supporting innovations, building improvements, and literacy projects for all ages. This summer brings exciting news, as construction has just begun on building out the new Teen Space, as well as to create other common areas for gathering, reading, and programming. This is all made possible thanks to authors, sponsors, and donors who support the beloved annual Authors Dinner." Further details listed as they are announced.

Richard Schwartz's Event Dates in 2019- Speaking Events and Media Events

2019 Speaking Events (Media Events Listed below this section)

April 25, 2019. Central High School, 1700 W. Olney Ave., Philadelphia, PA. Richard will speak to the theater department students and teachers about the theatrical career of M. B. Curtis and how he changed the American theater and culture  and how it changed him. He will also discuss the structural changes in the theater in the way plays were presented. Central High School is Richard's alma mater.

April 26, 2019. Barnes and Noble, Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA. Richard will talk about M. B. Curtis' life, career and cultural influence, with a focus on his Philadelphia activities and popularity. 7pm.

May 5, 2019. The Richmond Museum of History. Richard will give an illustrated talk on the amazing life of immigrant actor M. B. Curtis and his life in Richmond and the East Bay. 2pm. 400 Nevin Ave., Richmond, CA 94801. 510-235-7387.

May 16, 2019. The Pt. Richmond Writers Group. Richard will speak about how he came to write his book "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty." Private event.

May 18, 2019 through August 22, 2019. The San Francisco Library Main Branch. The library and Richard will produce a multi-room display of the life and career of M. B. Curtis in the Arts Department on the Third Floor. Actual theater posters, programs, memorabilia, autographs, ads, images and other items will be hung, cased and displayed. A speaking event will also be offered in the library's auditorium. 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102. 415-557-4400.

June 2, 2019. San Francisco Public Library Main Branch.  Richard will give an illustrated talk on M. B. Curtis and his San Francisco exploits and the effects his life had on the nation. Latino Room (A&B) 1-3pm.
100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102. 415-557-4400.

June 19, 2019. See's the Day kids camp, Tilden Park, Lake Anza, Contra Costa County, CA. Richard will show the kids what there lives would have been like in what is now Tilden Park if they were in an Ohlone family that had lived in that spot for hundreds or thousands of years. They will go through exercises in culture and awareness and learn from experiencing things they had not tried or thought of before. 10am-1.30pm.

September 5, 2019. Builders Booksource. PAPERBACK RELEASE PARTY AND ILLUSTRATED TALK. This will be the official paperback release party for "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty" ($19.95). Refreshments will be served and a social half-hour will occur 6.30-7 and Richard will present an illustrated talk "How an 1880s Immigrant Actor Changed America's views of Immigrants Through His play "Sam'l of Posen" at 7pm. He will be signing books after the talk. Builders Booksource, 1817 Fourth St., Berkeley, CA 94710. 510-845-6874.

October 14, 2019. Commonwealth Club "The Cultures of the Bay Area's Indigenous People, The Hidden Signs All Around Us." Richard will speak about the amazingly ubiquitous, but generally unknown, presence of ancient Bay Area Native American life. He will tell stories of the villages and revered ceremonial sites still amongst us but rarely seen or totally unknown. Richard will reveal mysteries of an amazingly rich and complex culture. The talk will take place on Indigenous Peoples' Day. 6 pm. 5.30 pm check-in. 110 Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105. 415-597-6705.

October 27, 2019. East Bay Media Center. 28th Annual Berkeley Video Film Festival, Inde Film. Richard will give a talk on the silent movie industry in 1910 and M. B. Curtis's role in it. Curtis was Berkeley's biggest eccentric ever. Time:2.25 pm. 1939 Addison Street., Berkeley, CA 94707. 510-843-3699.

November 2, 2019. Berkeley Public Library, North Berkeley Branch. "The Hidden Indian Life in Berkeley." Richard will give an illustrated talk on the evidence of the hidden Indian life in Berkeley from thousands of years of Native habitation here. He will demonstrate how the discovery and protection of village sites,
and history combine as a powerful tool to begin to understand the extent Native Americans lived within what became the city of Berkeley and a tiny glimpse into their lives and what meant a lot to them. 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. 1170 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707.  3-4pm.  510-981-6250.

November 4, 2019. Joint Event with The Hillside Club and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. "
M. B. Curtis: An Immigrant, Actor 
and Philanthropist in Berkeley,1886, His Lingering Significance to our City." Historian Richard Schwartz will tell the fascinating story of the numerous philanthropic and significant deeds of immigrant M. B. Curtis, a once famed but now largely forgotten actor, for the city of Berkeley, and that still has an effect on us today. As Curtis catapulted to fame and fortune, he was thrilled to help the town he loved and its people thrive. 
Schwartz will also discuss many never-before-shared events at Curtis's Berkeley-based Peralta Park Hotel, the tallest hotel in the Bay Area at the time (now the site of the Saint Mary's College High School). This presentation will include Berkeley-specific stories not included in Schwartz's book, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis, which was recently released in paperback. 7.30 pm at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., Berkeley, CA 94709. 510-848-3227. 

November 7, 2019. Shakespeare and Co. Richard will speak about the life of actor M. B. Curtis emphasizing his Philadelphia presence as well as the mind-boggling story of Curtis lighting the Statue of Liberty and how the immigrant experience and perception was influenced by Curtis's play "Sam'l of Posen." 1632 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19103. 215-240-1000. 6.30 pm.

2019 Richard Schwartz Media Events

March 31, 2019. San Francisco Chronicle online version SF Gate. Editor David Curran writes a piece titled, When American's most famous actor went on trial for a San Francisco cop's murder.

April 29, 2019. JWeekly. Laura Paull writes a feature article on M. B. Curtis and his Bay Area life. She also includes the story about Curtis and the Statue of Liberty and his effect on the nation's culture and the author's journey in discovering the story.

July 9, 2019. Berkeleyside. Richard's article on the history of the 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake and suggestions to prepare for the next article are published in this newspaper online. 

July 9, 2019. SpliceToday, an entertainment publication. Writer Kenneth Silber wrote an article entitled Escape from Albania. In it he reveals he has been reading The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty and notes it was M. B. Curtis who paid to light the Statue of Liberty right after it was dedicated.

July 25, 2019. The Jewish Ledger, Rodchester, New York. The Ledger publishes a column called Book Shelf listed and  The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty as its first pick for this summer.

August 21, 2019. Midwest Review of Books. A review posted for the paperback release on the site by historian and author Barry Moreno at the Bob Hope Memorial Library at Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty National Monument.
"In this outstanding new biography of that remarkable immigrant thespian M. B. Curtis, Richard Schwartz gives readers a lost episode in the story of the Statue of Liberty and her torch - that it was none other than Curtis himself who helped pay for Miss Liberty's first electric lighting bills in November 1886. This is just one of the many absorbing episodes in this biography of one of the most talented character actors of his time."
Historian and author, Barry Moreno is with the Bob Hope Memorial Library at Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty National Monument

 August 23, 2019.  "The Custer County Chronicle," Custer, South Dakota. Reporter Joshua Najacht wrote a review of his reactions to reading "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty."

September 4, 2019. KRON TV posts "Map: Here are the Bay Area's most dangerous faults" online. Phillippe Djegal interviews historian Richard Schwartz in the Berkeley Hills about the Hayward and Rogers Creek faults.

September 9, 2019. "Mathews and Friends" Radio Show. Long time radio reporter, anchor, editor, producer, director and host, Larry Mathews, hosts his show, "Mathews and Friends"seven days a week on Impact Radio USA at 8:00 am EST each morning, with new segments debuting on each Monday. Larry will interview Richard about the life and times of M. B. Curtis. Fast foward to 22:18 on the minute counter.


September 9, 2019. Monday. KRON, San Francisco Bay Area TV Channel 4 . Earthquake Special. KRON reporter Philippe Djegal will be airing a special on local earthquakes faults and interviewed Richard to speak about faults, hazards and history

regarding this local topic. Airs 6am, 9am, 6pm and 9pm.

September 14, 2019. Saturday. KRON, San Francisco Bay Area TV Channel 4 . Local Earthquake Faults One-Hour Special. KRON reporter Philippe Djegal will be airing a special on local earthquakes and interviewed Richard to speak about faults, hazards and history regarding this local topic. 7pm.

September 20, 2019 In the December 2019 Edition of American History Magazine writer Sarah Richardson presented a piece on the new Statue of Liberty Museum and highlighted "The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty" for, as Sarah said,  "describing Curtis's role in the illumination, which adds a nice twist to the story."