Scope and Content
Title: Friends of Perfection Records
Collection number: MS 4008
Friends of Perfection
Extent: 4 boxes, 1 flat box, 1 trunk
California Historical Society, North Baker Library
San Francisco, California 94105-4014
The Sutter Street Commune donated the Friends of Perfection collection to California Historical Society in 1973. Known informally
as the Sutter Street Commune or the Scott Street Commune, depending on the street on which they lived, this intentional community
used the name Friends of Perfection for things like sales receipts, information requests or legalities, such as the deed to
CHS for the collection. The "front" name, Friends of Perfection, derived from the commune's interest in the Oneida Community
and the philosophy of Perfectionism of John Humphrey Noyes. This interest is reflected, for example, in "Communal Archaeology,"
the cover article (p.1) of
Kaliflower Vol. 3, No. 1 (May 6, 1971). "Kaliflower," as the Friends of Perfection were often known, also derived their practices of
complex marriage, third persons, criticism, and self-criticism from Noyes and the Oneida Community.
Collection is open for research by appointment only.
Copyright has not been assigned to The North Baker Research Library. All requests for
permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing
to the Library Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf
of The North Baker Research Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be
obtained by the reader.
[Identification of item], Friends of Perfection Records. MS 4008, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library.
Free Print Shop
Sutter Street Commune
Communal living--California--San Francisco
Underground press--California--San Francisco
Underground literature--California--San Francisco
Experimental theater--California--San Francisco
San Francisco (Calif.)--History--20th century
New Left--California--San Francisco
The Free Print Shop, one of several work projects of the Sutter Street Commune, published the intercommunal newsletter
Kaliflower in San Francisco from April 24, 1969 through June 22, 1972. The Sutter Street Commune was one of several hundred communes
in the 1960s in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Free Print Shop was in the basement of the commune's Victorian house in the
redevelopment-owned area of the city, near where Japantown now stands.
Part 1: The Sutter Street Commune and the Diggers:
The Sutter Street Commune consciously adopted the Diggers' "Free philosophy." The Diggers (1966-1968) were one of the groups
in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury District, a center of 1960s counterculture. Often cloaked in anonymity, the Diggers took
their name from the original English Diggers (1649-1650), who had promulgated a vision of society free from private property
and all forms of buying and selling.
The Diggers combined street theater, direct action, and art happenings in their social agenda of creating a Free City. Their
most famous activities revolved around distributing free food every day in Golden Gate Park and distributing "surplus energy"
at a series of Free Stores. Digger events, editorial comments of the day, pronouncements, manifestos and miscellaneous communications
were broadcast through broadsides, leaflets and posters distributed by hand on Haight Street. The Sutter Street Commune set
out to implement the blueprint for action that the Diggers had outlined a few months earlier in 1967.
Part 2: The Free Print Shop and
The announcement of the opening of the Free Print Shop was printed on silk cloth-faced paper, which the commune obtained from
a large paper company in San Francisco that sold odd lots of paper very cheaply. Over the next several years, the Free Print
Shop published a variety of materials, including flyers for other communal groups, free services, ecology groups, free arts
groups, and the occasional political protest. California Historical Society's collection includes hundreds of Free Print Shop
broadsides and flyers on various topics, such as "Free the Presidio 27," "Bring Huey Home," "Hells Angels Party," "The Non-Violent
Revolution of India a talk," and "Gay Liberation Now."
In the spring of 1969, the Sutter Street Commune began weekly publication of the intercommunal newspaper
Kaliflower. The name comes from Kali Yuga, the Hindu name for last and most violent age of humankind. The title suggests a flower growing
out of the ashes of destruction. For three years
Kaliflower circulation grew, until nearly three hundred communes received
Kaliflower every Thursday. The burgeoning circulation compromised ideals of staying small, local and anonymous, so publication was eventually
"Kaliflower Day," as the name by which Thursdays became known, was the day of the week when
Kaliflower was bound and distributed to all the other communes. In the beginning, each commune that received
Kaliflower had a plywood board located in a communal space, where the messengers would hand-deliver the
Kaliflowers. California Historical Society has one of the plywood boards used for delivery. A bamboo tube attached to the board held any
free messages waiting for the deliverer to pick up. Members from other households would show up at Sutter Street, and later
Scott Street when the commune moved. They spent the morning binding
Kaliflower, using a Japanese sewing method of side stitching.
Commune members lived in two successive Victorian houses for their first seven years. In the 1960s in San Francisco, the Redevelopment
Agency tore down many Victorian buildings in Japantown and the Western Addition. Commune members would go into the old Victorians
and salvage as much as they could. California Historical Society's copies of
Kaliflower were donated in an old Japanese steamer trunk salvaged from one of these abandoned houses.
Kaliflower was printed on a Chief 15 and bound by hand. Every ten weeks or so, a commune member would gather a sequence of the issues
and put them into an elaborately decorated envelope. For example, volume 4 has 7 issues, which are organized in order in a
envelope silk-screened with images depicting the Free Bakery and Free Food in three colors.
Kaliflower became an important mode of communication among the communes. It was common for people who delivered
Kaliflower to come back with stories of travelling from one commune to another and being fêted at each in various ways. The messengers
would pick up announcements and ads -- always free ads -- that would appear in the next week's issue. California Historical
Society also has a set of broadsides, posters and other printed matter distributed with
Kaliflower from time to time.
Scope and Content
This collection consists of a complete collection of the first series of the publication
Kaliflower, with some supplements, and an incomplete collection of other products of the Free Print Shop. There are also some miscellaneous
related items, including one of the original
Kaliflower clipboards, and the trunk in which the archives were delivered to California Historical Society.
California Historical Society also has a related manuscript collection, MS 3159, on the Haight Street Diggers, which is closely
related to the Friends of Perfection collection. There are also some new series issues of
Kaliflower, printed at later dates for special occasions, some of which are among California Historical Society's collections.