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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
"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
-Arlene Baxter, President, Berkeley Association of
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
"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
-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
"Thanks again for your
wonderful talk to our CERT group--people still discuss the
lessons learned from your presentation."
Community Emergency Response Team, City of Walnut Creek,
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 EMPEROR'S BRIDGE
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
-Jef Findley, Berkeley History Room, Berkeley Public
Library, Main Branch.
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.
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
McLeod, Contra Costa Historical
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.
Simons, President, San Leandro
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
the Humanities Forum at The Commonwealth Club of
Event Dates in 2020- Speaking Events
and Media Events
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.
Event Dates in 2019- Speaking Events
and Media Events
Events (Media Events Listed below this
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
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,
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
100 Larkin St., San Francisco, CA 94102.
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
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.
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.