Citywide Historic Context for New Deal San Francisco

Graves and Christopher VerPlanck are developing a study of New Deal era buildings, artworks, open spaces and infrastructure.  The project also includes city landmark nominations for three schools built or enhanced with WPA funds: George Washington High School, Theodore Roosevelt Middle School, and the Sunshine School.

 Photo: Amanda Law

Photo: Amanda Law

Murals at George Washington High School by Victor Arnautoff show the first president's life and work in San Francisco's largest fresco project.

   Photo: Donna Graves

  Photo: Donna Graves

Arnautoff, an active leftist, included several scenes of African American workers. In the 1960s, the murals became a source of outspoken anger from students who found the depictions of enslaved African Americans shucking corn, picking cotton, and loading barges as servile and humiliating.  The school's Afro-American Club convinced the SF Unified School District to commission response murals by the young artist Dewey Crumpler. His series of paintings, Multi-Ethnic Heritage: Black, Asian, Native/Latin American, were installed in 1974.

 Photo: Amanda Law

Photo: Amanda Law

 Photo: Donna Graves

Photo: Donna Graves

Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, UCSF

Graves is leading a team documenting the social history of UCSF's Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. Project collaborators include historian Susan Stryker, archivist Mimi Klausner, researcher Harrison Apple, and architectural historian Stacy Farr. The project will produce a comprehensive social history of LPPI, Historic American Building documentation, and a preliminary plan for interpreting the building's history.

San Francisco became an important center for the study of gender and sexuality in the 1940s and 1950s through the work of the Langley Porter Clinic (401 Parnassus Avenue; later the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute LPPI). The UCSF Medical School and the California Department of Institutions, which oversaw the state’s psychiatric hospitals, founded the clinic in 1941 as a joint venture.  In 1949, LPPI Director Dr. Karl Bowman led a comprehensive statewide investigation into “sex crimes and sex deviants,” initiated and funded by the California State Legislature. The resulting reports, coauthored by Bowman and UCSF research associate Bernice Engle, represented a newly liberalized attitude meant to shape future legislation and therapeutic recommendations. 

Another of Bowman’s key collaborators was Louise Lawrence, who had been living full-time as a transgender woman since 1942. Lawrence lectured on transgender topics at UCSF and created an expansive international network of transgender people. She, along with Virginia Prince and others, published the first incarnation of Transvestia, a pioneering transgender publicationin 1952.  Lawrence’s address book provided the initial subscription list and she was instrumental in connecting transgender people to pioneering sex researchers such as Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin.

 Langley Porter Psychiatric Clinic, ca. 1942. Photo:  UCSF History Collection

Langley Porter Psychiatric Clinic, ca. 1942. Photo:  UCSF History Collection

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