One of the great unknown treasures of Redwood City is the
Karl Vollmayer Local History Room
, located on the mezzanine level of the
. The Vollmayer Room houses numerous primary source materials related to the development and history of Redwood City. Being located in a library, the collection of course contains many books about our history, including historical yearbooks and city directories, but the collection runs much deeper.
Thousands of historic photos are arranged by subject, and document the people, educational institutions, buildings, natural features, organizations, and industries that have made Redwood City what it is today. Historic newspapers date back to 1852 issues of Redwood City's own San Mateo Times Gazette, whose building on Main Street incidentally housed the first incarnation of the Redwood City Public Library. Newspaper clipping files provide subject access to articles from decades gone by, and collections of the papers of notable historical personages and organizations provide a firsthand view of history in the making.
Just one example of the poignant stories contained in these collections is a collection of letters and other documents known as the Morrish Collection. Elmer Morrish was a Redwood City banker who handled local affairs such as finances and property management for Redwood City's residents of Japanese descent when they were sent to internment camps during World War II, and the letters back and forth between Morrish and the families in the camps paint a vivid picture of this important time in our history. This one-of-a-kind personal collection was the primary research material utilized for the recently published book
Citizen Internees: A Second Look at Race and Citizenship in Japanese American Internment Camps
, by Linda Ivey and Kevin Kaatz. Citizen Internees was named one of the Outstanding Titles for 2017 by Choice (a publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries). Co-author Kevin Kaatz is a Board Member of the Archives Committee, the all-volunteer organization that oversees the RCPL Local History Room.
Read the full
Spectrum Magazine article
, page 21.