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First Thursdays Forenoon Program

The Moya Library/Ross Historical Society continues its decades-long tradition of talks with informative and interesting topics, on the first Thursday of each month from March to November (except August). Presentations are given by historians, authors, artists, scholars, or experts in a given field; the topics are varied and mostly relate to the art and history of Marin County and surrounding areas.


The First Thursday Forenoon lectures are held in the Livermore Pavilion at the Marin Art & Garden Center. The programs begin at 11:00 a.m., and run for about one hour. A donation of $10.00 per person is requested.


In Search of Nova Albion: A Maritime Detective Story


Thursday, June 6, 2024, 11:00 AM

The Livermore Pavilion at the Marin Art and Garden Center

30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Ross, CA.


In 2021 the California State Historic Landmarks Commission issued a finding that resolved 150 years of competing claims about where FRANCIS DRAKE landed on the Pacific Coast of California in 1579. This event marked the first documented contact between the cultures of the Indigenous people and those of western Europe. Drake named this place Nova Albion, ‘New England,’ and his territorial claim on behalf of Queen Elizabeth I presaged the era of English colonization of North America. PHIL WILLIAMS, Ph.D., VP Drake Navigators Guild, will describe how nautical, geographic, cultural, and archeologic evidence was used in making this determination.

Drake - Nova Albion - jun2024.jpg

Presentation Schedule 2024

March 7 ~ FORGOTTEN RAILROADS OF MARIN. See how early Marin County developed rail transportation to accommodate the needs of the community and pave the way for the future. Amateur historian and rail fan RICHARD TORNEY will share historic photos and stories of early railroads in Marin illustrated with more recent photos taken near the same locations.


April 4 ~ LOCOMOTIVE NO 9. It’s ironic that machines of the industrial age were part of early Marin environmentalism. Today, two thirds of Marin is wilderness. One of environmentalism’s early boosters was the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway, a steam railroad that showed people the virtues of wilderness. Learn from the “Crookedest Railroad” expert FRED RUNNER about the Tamalpais Railway and the restoration of its last remaining locomotive.


May 2 ~ THE MAN BENEATH THE PAINT, CALIFORNIA IMPRESSIONIST TILDEN DAKEN. Presented by BONNIE PORTNOY, the granddaughter he never met. Tilden Daken was one of the most adventurous artists in the American West. He painted in every California state park and national park in the West. In 1925, he built an enchanting home amongst the redwoods in Mill Valley and painted hundreds of scenes of Mount Tamalpais.


June 6 ~ IN SEARCH OF NOVA ALBION: A MARITIME DETECTIVE STORY. In 2021, the California State Historic Landmarks Commission resolved 150 years of competing claims on where Francis Drake landed on the Pacific Coast of California in 1579. PHIL WILLIAMS, PH.D., VP Drake Navigators Guild, examines the site and how the decision was made.



SHIVERING AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD. New York Times bestselling author and journalist JULIA FLYNN SILER will discuss her recent trip to the Arctic Circle, following the mid-20th century expeditions of Marin explorer Louise Arner Boyd.


October 3 ~ CHINA CAMP: A CULTURAL LANDSCAPE STUDY. China Camp is one of Marin’s most scenic locations. Originally a shrimp fishing village in the 1870s, it survived into the 20th century as a sports fishing camp. In this illustrated talk, JOHN MARTINI and STEVE HALLER describe their research into the human and physical histories of China Camp.


November 7 ~ MARIN COUNTY POOR FARM AND CEMETERY. The Marin County Poor Farm was created in the1880s as the County Supervisors were compelled to establish a location to support the indigent. Local historian MARCIE MILLER will share extensive research and documentation of this story that needs to be told.

For an archive of previous years' presentations see our Events Archive.

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