April Newsletter 2016

President's Message


I dislike starting this message on a sad note. One of our Past Presidents actually our 38 President (1998-2000) Gordon John Martin passed away in March. He was currently the Past President Representative on our Board. He and his wife Gracelyn were just at our February Conference in San Juan Capistrano. Since the inception of the CCHS in 1954, we have had 46 Presidents- including myself- and Gordon was one of the best. I remember asking Gordon about a rifle that was in one of the displays of a museum we were touring at one of our Conferences a while back. He gave me the name of the manufacturer, circa of the weapon, caliber and more. This was his hobby, and he knew a great deal about it. He will be missed by all of us.


Our Annual Meeting is coming on June 23-25 in Claremont (Incorp. Oct. 3, 1907), a historic college town just south of the Angeles National Monument (previously Angeles National Forest). “Route 66” (Foothill Blvd.) runs right through town. Actually, our Arrowhead Management office for the CCHS is just a mile or so south of Foothill Blvd. on Arrow Hwy. and Indian Hill. Come early or stay late and stop by. We have a great weekend planned with tours, workshops and more. We will be sending registration packets out very soon. Please tell your historical society members and your museum people about it. Look forward to seeing you there.

Many of our members have commented on the complexity of our Membership/Dues Structure as spelled out in our current brochure (go to www.californiahistorian.com and check it out).

Yes, it is confusing. At our Executive Committee (EC) meeting in March, I proposed a revision. We kicked it around and came up with a proposed idea of just having maybe four (4) categories (Individual Membership, Organizations, Lifetime and Corporations). Currently we have         NINETEEN (19) categories. Every January 1st when we send out renewal notices, we get questions. Our new members are confused by the multitude of selections, more questions. When it comes to registering for Conferences as a Member or Non Member, we get questions. So, you can see where I am coming from on this issue; we need to do something. Yes, some increases will be needed in some categories and some decreases in others. I am sure that in your organization, you have had to do the same. Our EC and Board will check out the options, and you will hear from us on this issue in the coming months.

All concerns and compliments are welcome.

John Lenau


Conference of California Historical Societies

[email protected]

(760) 249-4650

First Vice President's Message


Spring has arrived, and I hope everyone is enjoying these lovely warm days.  My roses are blooming and have definitely benefited from the winter rains… They are glorious and make me happy. 

March has been busy for those of us connected with the Martinez Museum.  As I mentioned last month, we are in the midst of a major restoration/renovation project.  Thanks to the Community College District, we have a first-ever foundation, and now the wonderful volunteer team from our very good neighbors, the Martinez Shell Oil Refinery, are painting the inside of our museum.  The Martinez Historical Society is very grateful to these community organizations for taking on, and funding, both of these major, expensive and labor intensive projects.  The hardest part for me as Museum Director was choosing colors and deciding which pieces of furniture and large artifacts to put into storage.  Again, I had the help of good-natured volunteers who helped me consider so many color choices that, at one point, I was tempted to revert back to white walls and white woodwork.  We finally settled on a color scheme which will brighten the rooms and make it a friendly place to visit.   Frankly, at this point the museum looks like a bomb went off inside, but I know that with patience and good help we will soon get back to a somewhat normal condition.  Once the painting and floor refinishing is completed, we will re-design and execute new displays and exhibits.

We are all becoming aware of one of the challenges faced by many museums and arts organizations --- declining participation by young adults known as Millennials, those between the ages of 18 to 34-years-old.   It is becoming clear that museums (and arts organizations) need to attract and engage new audiences to ensure their artistic and financial viability.  Our museum is no exception:  our over-all declining attendance is largely due to a paucity of Millennials visiting our museum.

One of our challenges is to try to entice and engage this educated, energetic and generous population, while at the same time meeting the needs of our other audiences:  seniors, families with children, community members, school-age children, and the occasional visitor to Martinez.  We must find a way to meet the needs and interests of these varying populations and still remain true to our mission.

I’m continuing to do a lot of reading about ways to remedy this dilemma.  One suggestion is to create monthly after-work events at which attendees would interact with each other and with the displays of historic artifacts and photographs, showing, in our case, the history of our community. 

We are also re-thinking the hours we are open to the public, as we find there are increasingly more people who work during the week, then are busy with family-related activities during the weekends.  Another alarming statistic that I heard on NPR the other day concerns the average attention span of our population.  The attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds, and in 2015 it had reduced to 8.25 seconds.   The average length of time a single internet video is watched is 2.7 minutes, and the average office worker checks their email inbox 30 times an hour. So, as you can see, to try to tell a story that can often cover several decades, and occasionally several centuries, to an audience that can encompass  Traditionalists (born 1927-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1979),and Millennials (born 1980-2000), and those born after 2000, requires imagination, modern technology and a creative approach to the subject.  

We have also become an increasingly out-of-doors oriented population with individuals and families spending much of their “free time” hiking, biking and skiing as well as enjoying other outdoor activities. How do we incorporate this out-of-doors focus into what we offer through our museum experience?  These are just a few of the obstacles we’ve encountered, and next month I’ll try to mention others.

We are considering all of these factors as we try to design displays and programs that meet these vast and varied challenges.  I would like to encourage anyone who has faced and incorporated these issues into their museum’s experience to take a few minutes and share your thoughts and the actions you’ve taken to make your museum a friendly place where visitors of all ages can interact with each other and with the story that you’re dedicated to telling.  You can write to me directly at [email protected], or to Emily O’Brien at [email protected]

Our CCHS motto is to See, Learn, Share!   Let’s do it!

Looking forward to hearing from YOU!


Andrea Blachman

CCHS, First Vice President



Second Vice President's Message

2016 Annual Meeting June 23-25 moved to Claremont!!!

The Executive Committee shift to Claremont will save both attendees and CCHS big bucks for a memorable experience you won't want to miss.  So get your kicks on Historic Route 66!

Consider it a mini vacation.  The host hotel, DoubleTree, is a 10-minute drive from the Ontario Airport.  Or a 4-minute drive from a Metro Link Station, a 400-mile drive from Sacramento, or only a mile from Ben Wirick's Arrowhead Management office, which provides administrative services to the Conference.

The DoubleTree is at 555 W. Foothill Blvd., which has been a part of the famous Route 66 since 1931.

Claremont_CA.jpg Route_66.jpg

We are in the process of making a number of changes about what to see, explore, learn and do.  We also want to keep business meetings short.  Please check the website, http://www.californiahistorian.com, regularly for updates.

Save these dates for the Fall Symposium: October 30-23, 2016 in San Ramon.

"The City of Trees and PHDs"

I've discovered that most of California's so-called 482 incorporated cities like to brag about themselves as being a great place to live, do business in, or to come and have a good time.  Claremont is no exception.

It likes to boast it is the city of trees and PHDs because of its annual National Arbor Day Association's Tree City USA award for more than two decades and the distinguished Claremont Colleges with it's 7,700 students and 3,600 faculty and staff.  More than 9 percent of its adult population has doctoral degrees.

The college consortium, offering more than 2,000 courses, is by far Claremont's biggest employer.  The colleges: Pomona, Claremont Graduate University, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and the Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Sciences.

Interestly, the only nationally-accredited museum on a high school campus is located in Claremont.  It is called the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology.  It has two circular 4,000 square-foot exhibition halls with some 140,000 specimens, most of which were found by Webb School students on fossil-collecting trips.

Claremont also has the Padua Hills Theatre, credited with being the longest-running theater featuring Mexican-themed musicals in the nation.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Claremont borders Los Angeles County's eastern rim at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains at about 1100-1200 feet elevation, 30 miles east of Downtown Los Angeles.  It was incorporated October 3, 1907 by a 73-47 vote, making it the 20th of the county's current 88 cities.  LA County has about 27 percent of the state's population and both the least populated- Vernon at 112- and the largest- Los Angeles at about 4 million.  Claremont has a population of more than 36,000, making it the 215th largest in the state.  It was established in 1887 by the Santa Fe Railroad as one of the 30 town sites between Los Angeles and San Bernardino.  Be sure to see the old rail station.

Sunset Magazine Names Claremont a Best Small Town

In February, Sunset Magazine honored Claremont with a four-page spread in its West's Places to Live issue.

See you in Claremont in June to hear what you think.



Michael Otten

Second Vice President

Conference of California Historical Societies

[email protected]

(530) 888-7837

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Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.