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Visit the History Center, browse the exhibits and publications and join us in preserving Berkeley's heritage.

Current Exhibit

August Vollmer: The Father of American Policing

August Vollmer, one of the most extraordinary men ever to serve as police chief in America, is rightfully considered "The Father of American Policing." His innovative use of science and technology applied to policing made him instrumental in the creation of the first lie detector and police crime lab, and his advocacy for police higher education, which led to the creation of degrees in Criminal Justice and Criminology, were the underpinnings of his life's work to professionalize the police.

He served as Berkeley's Town Marshal and then Police Chief from 1905 to 1932 except for a brief period as LAPD chief in 1923-24. He went on to found the School of Criminology at UC Berkeley and served on the first board of the East Bay Regional Parks District.

The guest curator for this exhibit is Willard Oliver, Ph.D., Professor of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. He developed the exhibit based on his book, August Vollmer, The Father of American Policing, recently published by Carolina Academic Press.

The exhibit will continue through September 23, 2017.

Photo courtesy of Sgt. Michael J. Holland (Ret.) of the Berkeley Police Department Historical Unit.


Upcoming Exhibit 

Soundtrack to the 60s: The Berkeley Music Scene

October 8, 2017 through April 1, 2018 

There have been several Bay Area exhibits, festivals and celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love”. The Fall 2017 Folksinger Ellen Faust. Photo by Arthur F. Gough, courtesy of Harold Adlerexhibit of the Berkeley Historical Society will focus on the unique contribution of Berkeley musicians to 1960s music throughout the whole decade. 

The exhibit will document local venues where performances were held, as well as recording studios and record shops that preserved and disseminated the Berkeley sound. From small folk singer gatherings in private homes to public stages, Berkeley provided a rich milieu of opportunity for inspiration and creativity. 

A timeline of major national and international events will provide context for local musical developments. Other parts of the exhibit will focus on the many venues where music was played and recorded, as well as the folk scene, the rock scene, rhythm and blues, the role of music in the protest movement, and the career of Country Joe McDonald.

Historical photographs will be combined with posters from Country Joe McDonald's archives to provide a visual record of the decade. Clothing and other artifacts will also be on display.  

The opening event, Sunday, October 8, from 2 to 5 p.m., will feature live musical performances by local groups. The exhibit will run through April 1, 2018. Additional programming during the course of the exhibit will include panel discussions and interviews, covering such topics as Women in Rock and The Development of Poster Art.


Admission free, donations welcome; wheelchair accessible

Berkeley Historical Society and Berkeley History Center
1931 Center Street, Berkeley 
Telephone: 510-848-0181

Mailing address: P.O. Box 1190, Berkeley, CA 94701


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