A collection of materials used by Sacramento historian William E. Mahan in teaching a course on the history of mystery novels
through the Renaissance Society, an organization dedicated to promoting lifelong learning opportunities for older adults through
the offering of courses taught by members.
William Edward Mahan was born in Illinois in 1931 and spent his childhood there and in Neenah, Wisconsin. He graduated with
a bachelor's degree from California State University, San Jose and earned his master's degree in history from Stanford University.
He was a politically active Democrat, serving as the president of the Sacramento County Young Democrats in 1960 and later
as a member of the County Democratic Central Committee. In his professional career, Mahan focused on the history of the United
States with an emphasis on civics and early 20th century Progressive movements. Mahan began his long career as a history educator
teaching at Sacramento High School and Kennedy High School, where he served as a mentor to philosopher and social activist
Dr. Cornel West and his brother Clifton while coaching them in cross-country running. He taught in Sacramento City College's
history department for twenty years. Following his retirement, he resumed coaching cross-country at Kennedy High School. During
this period, he remained actively engaged with local history, volunteering in the Sacramento Public Library's Sacramento Room,
giving lectures, and leading walking tours, which included a popular trip through the Old City Cemetery. In addition, during
his retirement he began teaching courses on the history of the mystery novel through Sacramento State University's Renaissance
Society. Mahan died in August of 2016.