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Exhibits Expose Photography's Role in Telling Story of 1906 San Francisco Quake
Associated Press Writer

"Photography was a good way to repair the image of San Francisco as a city that was going to rise again and not one that one had to lose hope in," Keller said.

Meanwhile, the Historical Society's Jack London exhibit, running through June 10, aims to illuminate previously unknown aspects of both the "Call of the Wild" author and the scope of the destruction.

Within hours of the earthquake, London and his new wife, Charmain, traveled by train, ferry and horseback from their ranch in Sonoma County through Oakland and the counties north of San Francisco.

The couple's photographs provide one of the only historical records of the earthquake's damage outside San Francisco, according to director Stephen Becker. Using original negatives, the museum had several dozen reproduced by a master developer to bring out the detail and depth that weren't previously visible.

"We certainly know about (London) as a writer, but what we didn't know about him as much was as a photographer," Becker said. "We now know that as a photographer, he was pretty good."

In coming weeks, the San Francisco Public Library plans to honor the earthquake's survivors by displaying never-before-seen personal photo albums from its collection, while the Chinese Historical Society of America will unveil an exhibit of photographs and newspapers documenting how Chinese immigrants fared after the earthquake. Wells Fargo Bank has its own offering - "San Francisco is in Ashes" - based on photos and other artifacts from its archives.

The overlapping photo exhibits do not surprise Keller.

"I had a lot of very sweet people call me to say, 'I have these incredibly rare earthquake pictures I want to sell to the museum,'" Keller said. "I have always had to break it to them very gently that their pictures are actually not rare."


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