Catherine Hiebert Kerst Presents "California Gold"


Join us on Wednesday, May 15th at 7:00 PM when author and cultural historian CATHERINE HIEBERT KERST comes to the store to present her new book California Gold: Sidney Robertson and the WPA California Folk Music ProjectCatherine will discuss her book and her research and will sign copies of her book after the presentation.


This event is free, but you must register on Eventbrite or in the store in advance to ensure seating.  Click Here to order a copy of California Gold.

California Gold offers a compelling cultural snapshot of a diverse California during the 1930s at the height of the New Deal, drawing on the career of folk music collector Sidney Robertson and the musical culture of often-unheard voices. Robertson—an intrepid young woman armed only with a map, her notebooks, and the recording equipment of the time—proposed and directed a New Deal initiative, the WPA California Folk Music Project, designed to survey musical traditions from a wide range of English-speaking and immigrant communities in Northern California.

In California Gold, Catherine Hiebert Kerst explores Robertson's distinctive and modern approach to fieldwork and examines the numerous ethnographic documentary materials she generated with WPA project staff to capture a cross-section of the music that people were actively performing in their communities. Kerst highlights some of the most notable songs, images, and ephemera of the collection, capturing and contextualizing the diverse musical traditions that California immigrant communities performed during the New Deal era. Kerst also foregrounds the ethnographic insights and accomplishments of a significant woman folk music collector who has received less attention than she deserves.

CATHERINE HIEBERT KERST, PHD, is a folklorist and cultural researcher who worked for many years as Folklife Specialist and Archivist in the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. Her work focuses on the multi-format ethnographic New Deal collections that reside at the Library. She received her PhD in the Folklife Program, American Studies, George Washington University. In the American Folklife Center, she worked closely with a variety of archival collections documenting traditional culture of many kinds, coordinated symposia on a variety of topics, spoke and wrote widely about New Deal cultural materials, and served as the reference specialist for the Library's folk music collections of Sidney Robertson Cowell.

THIS EVENT is free but pre-registration is requested. Registration ends at 5:30 pm on May 15th.

BECAUSE SEATING is limited, please register only if you plan to attend.

DUE TO SPACE limitations, we may not be able to accommodate every person at an event, so early registration is encouraged.

WALK-INS will be accommodated only if space allows.

WE ASK that attendees arrive between 6:45 and 7:00 PM for the event.

PLEASE leave your non-support companion animals at home.

OUR shared restrooms are not accessible after 6:30 PM, please plan accordingly.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Event address: 
Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore
2904 College Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705
California Gold: Sidney Robertson and the WPA California Folk Music Project By Catherine Hiebert Kerst, Library of Congress Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780520391314
Published: University of California Press - April 2nd, 2024