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November 2018


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  Museum News 

     We celebrated the Marin History Museum with gusto and generosity at our annual fundraiser at Sweetwater in Mill Valley.



   Feature Article



Thanksgiving for most is a high-calorie football fest with friends and family. But—what if miles and prison bars kept you from your besties and kin? What if you’re…say…in San Quentin for Thanksgiving? 

In June 1912, San Quentin’s inmates rioted for five days over their twice-daily rations of rancid food. Thirty years later, in 1943, with Warden Duffy in charge for three years, San Quentin’s death row inmates relished their Thanksgiving dinner. In gratitude, they crafted and signed a thank you card to the Warden and his wife. Their love of commas and questionable spelling notwithstanding, the inmates’ appreciation confirms Clinton Duffy’s success as a humane warden. 


We, the men of condemn row, send 

 to you, our hearts of Thanks, and appreciation, 

for making the day of Thanksgiving, truly, a 

day of Thanks, for us all. 



                                                                         SOURCE: MHM 

While we don’t know what was on the menu for Thanksgiving dinner in 1943, we know that in 1986 the prison kitchen team created a traditional dinner of Waldorf salad and turkey with all the fixings followed by pumpkin pie (with cream!) and coffee.  

The museum’s collection includes a Thanksgiving 1986 brochure created by the prison’s Vocational Printing Department including the day’s menu as well as the names of the Warden, other members of the prison’s administration, and the entire kitchen staff from Food Service Sergeants through the butcher, the baker, and seventeen cooks—no candlestick maker. 


                                                                                       SOURCE: MHM 

In a photo of the San Quentin kitchen crew from 1916, we see a team of ten men, one smiling and the rest posing with grim faces. One man, a butcher by his clothing, scowls with crossed arms staring resolutely away from the camera. In contrast to the forbidding faces and shadowy surroundings, vases of flowers grace the counters.  

                                                                                        SOURCE: MHM 

The staff and volunteers at the Marin History Museum wish you and yours a happy and tasty Thanksgiving—don’t forget the Waldorf salad.

Faces of Marin



Clinton Truman Duffy 

(August 4, 1898 –October 12, 1982) 


The son of a San Quentin prison guard, Clinton Duffy was the seventh of eight children. After graduating from San Quentin Grammar School and San Rafael High School, Duffy served as a Marine in World War I. In 1929, he accepted a position as secretary to the Warden of San Quentin, the first of his many prison roles including San Quentin historian.  

On July 13, 1940, Duffy was appointed Warden, transforming the traditional punishment policy into one of punishment plus training and treatment. Head shaving, weekend lockups, underground “holes,” and physical abuse were abolished. Numbers were removed from clothing. Psychiatric and alcoholic treatments were introduced. “Idle time groups and activities” included sports, lectures, classroom and trade education. The San Quentin debating club competed against teams from Bay Area campuses. 


In 1954, two movies— Duffy of San Quentin   and The Steel Cage —were released based on Duffy’s 1950 book: The San Quentin Story. 

Gladys B. Duffy (Carpenter)

(December 18, 1899 – October 23, 1969) 

Born in Stockton, Gladys moved to San Quentin at three months old where her father worked as a prison guard. Shortly, his support of the Republican Party forced the family to San Francisco. In her 1959 memoir, Warden’s Wife, Gladys recalled fleeing back to Marin after the 1906 earthquake—her father carrying two caged canaries and an empty Gladstone bag while her mother clutched her White House Cook Book under one arm and her new sewing machine in the other. 

 Gladys grew up in San Quentin, attended grammar school, played with her friends on the prison’s Main Street and snuck into the Warden’s garden for lunch under the pomegranate tree with her beau, Clint Duffy. After graduating from San Rafael High in 1918, Gladys attended the Normal School in San Francisco, training to be a teacher—at San Quentin. 

 On New Year’s Eve 1921, Gladys married her San Quentin playmate. Their only child, Jack, was born ten months later and Gladys returned to teaching shortly thereafter. When Clinton Duffy became Warden, Gladys became his partner in prison reform as much as in life. Called Mom Duffy by the inmates, Gladys occasionally joined the prisoners for movie-night and spoke over the prison radio network, offering motherly advice and comfort to the inmates

                                                                                                                            Photo Source:  MHM

Community Events of Interest

Wednesday, November     7:00-8:30pm 

First Wednesday: Ross - A Rich History

Mill Valley Library

Ross: A Rich History, with Historians Richard Torney and Fran Cappelletti

In partnership for the first time, Torney and Cappelletti will tell the story of the small bucolic town of Ross. In a presentation which includes beautiful archived photos of people and events over time, you’ll see how much has changed along with how much has not. You will also learn about the important contributions of Mill Valley residents to the development of the Marin Art and Garden Center.

Tuesday, November 27     7:00-8:00pm

Her Side of the Story: California Pioneer Women

Corte Madera Library

Join librarian Patricia Keats for a presentation on rare, first-person historical reminiscences of California pioneer women. These documents currently on display at the Society of California Pioneers museum highlight the role women played in the formation of the state.


Museum News, Events, Feature Article, Faces of Marin, 100 Years Ago, Community Events, and From the Collection



November 1918




Light green, soft-cover “San Rafael Cookbook,” published in 1906 by the Ladies of San Rafael, a charitable organization whose members were among San Rafael’s “most prominent ladies.”  Price $1.00.


According to a Petaluma Argus-Courier article dated January 8, 1906, the Ladies of San Rafael formed “for the purpose of being in a better position to do charitable work wherever and whenever possible.”  Although the Ladies were associated with the San Rafael Presbyterian Church, their charity was strictly non-sectarian, intent on providing care for all people in need.  Several ladies are mentioned as elected officers of the organization, including Mrs. John. F. Boyd, Mrs. William Babcock, Mrs. Robert Menzies, Mrs. John M. Dollar, and Mrs. John C. Hoover.


The 222-page cookbook consists of recipes for everything from meats to cakes, hand-selected and written by the Ladies themselves.  Included are chapters dedicated to frozen dainties, food for the sick, and a miscellaneous category containing recipes for hard soap, liniment, and concoctions to remove all types of stains.  Sprinkled throughout the volume are charming advertisements for local businesses and products, including full-page entries for the bygone Mount Tamalpais Military Academy, San Rafael Cottage Hospital, and illustrious Hotel Rafael.


A newspaper article from the Marin Journal dated December 20, 1906, announced “The San Rafael Cookbook is now on sale at the residence of Mrs. W. F. Jones, 202 Mission Street, at E. Q. Smith’s Store, 8 Fourth Street, at J. C. Hoover’s and at all San Rafael drug stores.” Just in time for Christmas giving.


Sources:, Marin Independent Journal



We can use your help! Have a little time on our hands and looking to help a local non-profit? Below is a list of some of the volunteer positions we need to fill.

Please let us know if any of these look interesting to you by emailing or calling 415-382-1182. We would love to hear form you!

Administrative Assistant

This position provides an opportunity to work on researcher requests, computer-related projects, and other interesting and supportive endeavors.  This position can be done partially from home and partially in the office.  This is a hands-on team job that will really make a difference at the Marin History Museum.


We are starting to create a lot of content for our eNewsletters, social media sites, and future traveling exhibitions and publications. If you like to do historical research and write short articles, we could use your help.


Along with writers, we need editors to give the final article its blessing before it goes to print. This volunteer job can be done from home or on site. Let us know if you have that required eagle eye and grammatical tenacity to tackle this job.


Special Event Assistant

If you enjoy hosting or attending a well-planned party, you’ll be a natural at during the Museum’s special events. We would love to see you help create the party, greet guests who attend, and  keep that friendly and festive feeling going for the whole evening.


Capture the moment for us! Your photos of the Museum’s special events and exhibitions will be invaluable for public outreach, future fundraising campaigns and our institution’s historical record. We could use your help documenting our history!

Are you a student looking for community service hours? Know a student who needs hours before graduating?  The Marin History Museum is a 501(c)3 and can grant students their community service hours.

Let us know and we’ll take care of it!

P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182    

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