Cupertino Historical Society & Museum

Museum Exhibits

Fremont and Cora Older

On view: July 1, 2024 - Present

Fremont and Cora older were prominent California journalists and historians. You may be familiar with the Fremont Older Open Space Preserve, which was the site of their Woodhills home. This exhibit features a gallery wall illustrating many of the Olders' achievements.

The exhibit includes several exciting items - the original guest book used by the Olders at their home, an architectural survey with drawings of the home, and a bust of Fremont Older sculpted by local artist Anna Knapp Fitz - on loan from Morton Levine and Deva Luna at Woodhills. Five beautiful typewriters on loan from History San Jose show what the Older and journalists and writers of their time used for their work.

Franklin Model 7 Typewriter 1891
Bing Model 1 Portable Typewriter 1925
L.C. Smith & Bros. Typewriter 1910
L.C. Smith & Corona Special Model 3 Folding Typewriter 1927
Blickensderfer Model 7 Typewriter 1892

Our window display features a poster explaining more about the land and preservation of Woodhills, generously loaned by the California History Center.

More photos and information coming soon!

Image Gallery

Painless Parker

On view: September 15, 2023 - December 2023

Thanks to Henrietta Marcotte, a founder of Cupertino Historical Society and Cupertino Museum, the story of Painless Parker saw the light of day many years ago in a Cupertino Scene "Roots" article. Parker's story is the stuff of unbridled hyperbole but as the inimitable humorist Dave Barry used to say" am NOT making this up!"

Painless Parker was a real person and he really lived in Cupertino in the early 1900's. Born in New Brunswick, Canada in 1874, Edgar R. Parker must have been a handful as a child and young adult. His parents decided his loud voice and outgoing demeanor would perfectly suit a Baptist preacher. He was dispatched to a seminary where his escapades did not go well in such a staid atmosphere, and he was asked to leave. Fearing parental displeasure, he went off to sea instead, which only increased his worldliness. Upon returning home, he was again sent to seminary - where his behavior so affronted the educators that once again, he was asked to leave. He then went to dental school - where his academic prowess was not impressive - nonetheless he began to practice dentistry in people's homes, before getting his certificate of proficiency. Once again, he stood in danger of being expelled, but somehow convinced the dean to let him continue and he finally graduated.

His ensuing career is the stuff of Hollywood at its most fantastical. Read more about Painless Parker here!

Exhibit researched and curated by Alecia Thomas.
Dentistry and Painless Parker artifacts generously loaned by History San Jose.

Victorian Hair Craft and Mementos

On view: August 2023 - Present

Victorian Hair Craft and Mementos

The name of the era came of course from Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who was the second longest ruling monarch in British history after Queen Elizabeth. Many of the art and design elements of this time are just as popular today. But other characteristics are not so desirable. The people of this time were generally thought of as prudish and rigidly separated by gender, class and race. Women were considered the weaker sex and completely dependent on men. The role for many was to bear children and keep a household running. An approved activity for women was “fancy work” or the creation of elaborate handmade crafted items which were both practical and decorative.

The Victorians were also extremely sentimental and family oriented. Many families were large and wanted special tokens of their loved ones. The use of hair was not considered odd or morbid as death was far more prominent then with mortality rates of infants and people felled by illnesses that had no cures yet. Funerals often were held in the home. Hair art and other “body” mementos like plaster casts of hands and death masks went well with the Victorian style of decorating. It was very busy in nature with fabric or flocked wall paper, heavy velvet drapery and all manner of items both hung up and arranged on tables and cabinets. Another quality of hair is its resilience. Hair has been found on centuries old Egyptian mummies that still retain its color and texture.

In this era most women had very long hair. Men as well had plentiful facial hair. During the almost seven decades of the era styles changed a bit but always a woman’s hair was considered one of her greatest assets. Elaborate hair dressing was done by maids for the upper classes but every woman had some experience with styling hair. A rite of passage into adulthood was wearing the hair up as immature children wore hair down and loose. There are photos of the era showing incredible hair lengths but these are “art photos” As a general method of protecting this asset hats, or some kind of hair covering was used over the up do. Later in the century the ideal was to have the width of the hair match the waist for a perfect silhouette. A lady’s dressing table contained a “hair receiver” - An elaborate box used for collecting hair from brushes and combs. Ends WERE trimmed as they tended to be dry.

Woven hair was made into accessories that were both sentimental and fashionable with the heyday in the 1860s during the Civil War. Magazines gave patterns to make various designs and a popular book published in 1867 was “The Art of Hair Work” by Mark Campbell a New York and Chicago wig maker and hair broker. There was a huge demand to assemble the many patterns he had collected over the years as well as the exact directions for different patterns in hair weaving. An actual table top loom and special chair gave best results.

Hair Ornaments As Family Remembrance

Hair was collected to be saved as either a family tree piece or would be used after the persons death in a “Memento Mori” Because of the high regard that hair was held in it was one of the most beloved memorials that could be created. This piece is quite special as we know the contributors of the many types of hair seen in it. That is often not the case.

We don’t know exactly when the McClelland family started making these designs but it includes Dr Nicholas Miles McClelland, his wife Anna and their ten children. A close guess is 1855. It then was added to and passed on finally being completely assembled and framed around 1912.

The Patriarch Dr. Nicholas Miles McClelland was a surgeon, husband, father and active in local politics. In 1856 he sought to become warden of the Missouri state penitentiary. He received three letters of recommendation however he did not obtain the position. During the Civil War he was kidnapped by the Confederates and forced to operate on Southern soldiers as they did not have enough doctors. This family lived in Clay County Missouri. Most early settlers of the state travelled there up the Missouri and Mississippi rivers from the South and were sympathetic to the Confederate cause. Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821 as a slavery state. In 1860 the Governor wanted Missouri to secede from the Union. By 1860 however Missouri had been supplemented with Irish German and like the McClelland’s Scottish families who had no use for slavery. Missouri ended up being somewhat “Neutral”

After the war Dr McClelland became a leader of Clay County’s Democratic Party representing Fishing River Township. Despite the fact that the Democrats of that time were sympathetic to the Confederacy’s ideals he advocated for education for black families to lift them out of poverty and made it possible for local black men to vote for the first time. Later in 1882 he became Councilman of the third ward.

Timeline Of Hair Contained

Dr. Nicholas Miles McClellan 3/30/1814- 1/26/1883
Anna Elizabeth McCallum 3/20/1834-10/3/1914
Children: Margaret McClellend Luck Hershey 3/2/1855-
Her siblings
Roberta Ann McClelland 1858-1883
Sallie E McClelland 1858-1884
Cephas Hill McClelland 1859-1895
Louella B McClelland 1862-1930
Susanna McClelland 1864-1926
Arthur W McClelland 1866-1931
Robert Lee McClelland 1869-1947
Reese McClelland 1873-1944
Nannie McClelland Leopold 1876-
Oldest child Margaret’s McClelland Luck’s daughter
Lottie Luck McGregor 3/27/1880 – 11/24/1928
Her husband James Burns McGregor 1867-1931
Their daughter Margurite McGregor Hershey 1903-1987 Last person to contribute hair in 1913
Lottie and James had three other children:
Harry John McGregor 1903-1963
Luck Lee McGregor 1915-2004
Virginia Elizabeth McGregor Chaney 1911-
Her daughter is Jeannie Chaney George
a lifelong Cupertino Resident and the donor of the piece

Download Full Article PDF

Wineries in Cupertino

On view: March 17, 2023 - Present

A small hallway display case along with explanatory signs hanging on the wall illustrates the story of the many wineries along Montebello Road that winds its way up the mountains west of Cupertino. It is available for viewing anytime the Quinlan center is open. Typically, 8am – 5pm Monday through Friday and during any special weekend events.

Valentines & Stepping Out in 1880

On view: February 14, 2023 - September 2023

The garments and accessories a woman in the late Victorian era would use to get ready for a social outing such as a cotillion dance or a theater performance (movie theaters had not yet arrived). Up until the 1950s ladies felt required to wear a hat and gloves. Hat pins and handkerchiefs were also needed. The black dress on display has a waist level bow with pockets for giving and receiving calling cards. Our sailor in an early 1900’s uniform stands ready to escort any lady. His rank is of a Petty Officer Second Class and his rating is of a Storekeeper (crossed keys).

2023 Valentines Exhibit Tour

CUPERTINO: From The Ohlone To Crossroads To Incorporation

On view: October 2021 - Present

Watch the history of early Cupertino unfold in this exhibit about the story of Cupertino before it was incorporated as a city. The exhibit traces the natural history of the area and early Native American settlements through the “Crossroads” and Incorporation of the City in 1955. Explore artifacts, original documents, and photographs paired with the incomparable pen and ink drawings of Cupertino’s own artist Pete Emig as you find yourself in pre-1950s Cupertino.

Homage To The Information Technology Revolution: 1975 To 1985

On view: June 2019 - September 2021

The exhibition told the story of visionaries and entrepreneurs who, between 1975 and 1985, turned digital breakthroughs into a cultural revolution. During the next 30 years, this group of pioneers, championing what they called the “noble cause,” making information accessible to everyone. We are grateful for the opportunity to display these rare artifacts brought to us by our Italian benefactor, Marco Boglione.

On opening day
The exhibit also had audio explanations.

A stylized Commodore 64 image from the loaning museum.

A series of video interviews with the players of the time —including John Sculley, Allan Alcorn, Daniel Kottke, Jack Tramiel, Chuck Peddle, Lee Felsenstein, and Steve Wozniak— took visitors through the exhibition’s machines that made the history of the IT Revolution. Among them, the Programma 101 (Italy, Olivetti, 1965) and a very rare Apple-1 (USA, Apple, 1976) complete with its original kit: the only “survivor” (there are no other examples known) with the original box sent from the Los Altos garage at Steve Jobs parents’ house, the original invoice featuring “Steven” as the salesman, a personal letter from Mr. Jobs to the customer and one of the first BASIC tapes without an Apple logo. For the first time in its history, the toolbox Steve Wozniak used to assemble the Apple-1 was on display with his creation. The teaser trailer for the exhibit is here.

Here is a detailed presentation on the exhibit entitled "The BasicNet archive telling the story of the IT revolution" by Cecilia Botta

Unable to display the PDF file. Download it instead.

John Doyle's Las Palmas Winery

On view: July 2011 - July 2012

This new exhibit uncovers the rich wine history of early Cupertino. Join us this summer and learn more about John Doyle and his state of the art winery.

Valley Of Heart's Delight

On view: September 2011 - October 8, 2011

Come learn about Cupertino’s agricultural past. Learn more about when we were called the Valley of Heart’s Delight instead of Silicon Valley.

California Woman Suffrage Centennial

On view: August 2011 - December 2011

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of the woman’s right to vote in California. Our special thanks go out to Darlene Thorne for the use of her beautiful postcards