History museum sets up scandalous exhibit
OLD SACRAMENTO — The Sacramento History Museum will debut “Trouble in River City,” an exhibit that chronicles a long-running criminal trial that took place in Sacramento and captivated the nation during the Great Depression.
Showcased by fascinating trial transcripts, documents, video, photographs and interactive elements, the exhibit opening June 28 will investigate the nearly four-month trial that included such sensational elements: faked kidnappings, beatings and media leaks.
Using artifacts, images and documents from the Center for Sacramento History’s impressive collection, the new exhibit will highlight the intriguing trial that took place in 1935 when 18 farm labor organizers were tried for criminal syndicalism — the attempt to overthrow the government by violent means.
Featured in the exhibit are stories that highlight the leading characters in this true drama: the blonde firebrand labor organizer; the “moles” who infiltrated the local Communist party; and the passionate defense lawyer fighting for the rights of his clients. In addition, visitors can listen to the words of the labor organizers as they speak about their moments of triumph and defeat. The exhibit also includes interactive activities that allow visitors to consider moving from place to place as a farm laborer and casting a “guilty” or “innocent” vote as a member of the trial jury.
As the trial unfolds through the elements in the exhibit, visitors will gain an appreciation for the issues of poverty, homelessness, joblessness and the plight of the agricultural worker in 1930s California.
The new “Trouble in River City” exhibit will remain on public display at the Sacramento History Museum through 2014.