December Newsletter

President's Message 

On October 23-25, CCHS had our final Symposium for this year in Sonoma County (Sebastopol). We had a great time and the weather was near perfect. You have seen the marketing materials for this Symposium so I will not elaborate on the wonderful historical venues that we visited. The Fall Symposium was also our final event celebrating our 60th Anniversary. One of the most exciting things that happened during the celebration this year was the recent issue of the California Historian magazine. If you were at the Symposium, you received the magazine in your goody bag; the remainder of our members have received the publication by mail. Take time to read all the articles, as the history of 60 years of the CCHS unfolds before you. If you get the chance, you might want to contact Mary-Ellen Jones (Editor-in-Chief) and thank her for doing such a great job on the magazine. 

As I read the Historian, I noticed all the accomplishments achieved by previous Presidents and board members.  As our new President, I will attempt to continue to improve CCHS. 

CCHS has been very fortunate this year, as an anonymous donation was given to us in the amount of $5,000. I came up with an idea that CCHS (through Arrowhead Management-AM) should hire a temporary employee to garner as many historical societies’ contact information (that we do not already have) as possible, to build our connections and membership throughout the state.  Currently the CCHS has about 500 members; yet, there are over 1,000 historical societies in California. We need to make contact with these organizations to start expanding our membership. To do that, we need additional staff support. 

At our Board of Director’s meeting at the October Symposium, the Board agreed on the concept of this idea. Our Executive Committee (EC) also supports the concept. I am bringing this to the attention of the membership because this membership development proposal will come up for a vote at the Board meeting at the February Conference.  At the November EC meeting, we hammered out a proposal that was unanimously supported – read the proposal

The CCHS cannot grow without this information. I would appreciate your consideration of this proposal. Please plan on attending the February Symposium and help the CCHS move into 2015 with a bang (for our buck). 

The New CCHS membership brochure is out. There are some slight increases in fees, but CCHS membership is still very reasonable, considering the many benefits. Please take some brochures with you if and when you visit other historical societies or museums so that you can encourage them to join our great organization. If you would like membership brochures to be mailed to you, please contact the CCHS office

Our next conference (Spring Symposium) will be held in Lompoc (Santa Barbara County) on February 26-28, 2015. We will be visiting Vandenberg Air Force Base, a historical home and the beautiful La Purisima Mission. You will not want to miss this outstanding event: put the dates on your calendar right now!

Happy Holidays!  See you in Lompoc.

John Lenau, President

John Lenau
Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(760) 249-4650

First Vice President's Message


It was truly wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces at the October Symposium in Sonoma County.  Unfortunately, I was not able to stay for the Friday afternoon/evening and Saturday events, but I’ve heard only positive comments about both days.  Congratulations to Mary Lou Lyon, Gloria Roberts and the CCHS staff on a well-organized and interesting Symposium. 

The RVP meeting, held Friday, Oct 24, was well attended and informative.  The first order of business was to welcome our newest RVP, Christine Stokes, Region 3 (Shasta, Siskiyou,Trinity).  Christine actually contacted me and volunteered to be the RVP for that region!  She has been actively networking with the many historical societies in Northern California, an area that has not had CCHS representation for quite a long time.  Since the RVP meeting, we’ve also welcomed an additional RVP to the ranks: Ralph Thomas, who will be representing Region 29 (East San Gabriel Valley/Part of LA County).  Thank you for your interest, Christine and Ralph, and welcome to the CCHS community!

Because time and space makes it impossible to report on all of the interesting activities of the regions represented at the RVP meeting, I am going to summarize a few of the ways various RVPs have networked with the organizations in their regions.  Hopefully this will provide ideas for other RVPs as they connect with the local history-related organizations that they represent.

Ideas shared in the meeting included the following:  RVPs attending historical activities and special events sponsored by historical societies in their respective regions; Reaching out to organizations like the Bay Area Historic House Museum (BAHM), an organization of historic house museums in the Bay Area, which meet quarterly at different historic houses and discuss the issues related to running, preserving and promoting historic houses; RVPs hosting an annual or bi-annual historical society roundtable where projects, challenges and successes are shared and discussed; RVPs providing representation and participation at state-wide organizational events such as the California Council for the Promotion of History; Reaching out to county-wide curators’ groups that meet quarterly and share ideas, success and challenges, and promote each historical society’s current museum displays, events and activities; Hosting booths at local festivals and fairs to promote local historical and cultural endeavors;  And, attending county-wide meetings where ideas for cooperation and collaboration are shared. 

These are just a few of the excellent ideas shared at the RVP meeting.  Also reported were concerns and concepts that might be addressed in locally sponsored workshops or seminars:  Grant writing; Branding and marketing local historical societies and their products; How to stimulate society membership, especially attracting younger/Baby Boomer members; Merging historical societies to augment membership and build collaborative program efforts; And, proven and successful fundraising concepts.  We hope to be able to address these concerns and concepts through the CCHS workshop and webinar programs.

Please keep the ideas coming!  Contact me if you have a specific concern or suggestion that you’d like us to consider.  CCHS leadership is listening and working to respond to the many issues and concerns that are presented by the RVPs throughout the state.

We wish each of you and your family and friends a very happy holiday season!


Andrea Blachman
1st Vice President
Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(925) 387-5385

Second Vice President's Message 

“Fire in the hole!”

CCHS President John Lenau and the crowd yelled out the warning on Oct. 26 at the memorable Fall Symposium.  Our Commander in Chief started off his year with a bang. Standing in the middle of what once was State Highway 1, Lenau lit the rope wick for a ceremonial cannon firing at Fort Ross Historical Park.

Thanks to the hard work of the relentless Mary Lou Lyon, the historical queen of Cupertino, the CCHS for the first time got up close and personal with America’s Czarist heritage.  This coastal national treasure in Sonoma County once had 42 cannons. It had twice as many cannons as the Presidio, the northernmost stronghold of the Spanish colonists. The Russian big guns were never fired in battle, explained our guide, Hank Birnbaum, Programs Manager for the Fort Ross Conservancy.

Birnbaum, who lived in Russia for 17 years, kept up a constant line of patter from our host hotel in Sebastopol on the bus up the curvy route to the Fort, and at the Fort, giving a detailed historical account of the area and the Fort.  “Yes?” 

It was a fitting visit for the CCHS during this 150th Anniversary of California State Parks. Fort Ross had been one of the 70 State Parks slated for closure just as it was preparing for the bicentennial of its 1812 founding.  Thanks to donations from the Russian Renova Group, a two-country accord and a foundation, the Renova Fort Ross Foundation was set up to renovate the park and fund the 200th Anniversary celebration.  Such collaborative efforts saved all the parks and their rich historical treasures.

Thus, we welcome your collaboration in making your Conference of California Historical Societies stronger and more helpful to local history–related groups and libraries in our 58 counties.  Take time now to support our efforts to recruit new individual and group members and supporters and to recruit Vice Presidents to represent the 40 CCHS regions. 

Also remember that the deadline for nominations for the CCHS 2015 awards of merit is Feb. 15, 2015. Plan to attend the 2015 Spring Symposium Feb. 26-28, 2015 in Santa Barbara County. Check the website regularly for the latest details!

See you in the New Year!

Michael Otten, 2nd Vice President

Michael Otten
2nd Vice President
Conference of California Historical Societies
[email protected]
(530) 888-7837 

Mark Your Calendar!

CCHS Southern California Workshop

January 27, 2015, 10am-4pm
Pasadena Museum of History
Pasadena, CA

Designed to provide a foundation of proven practices on the nuts and bolts of running a historical society, the Southern California Workshop will connect you to experts, helping you explore topics to support organizational growth and sustainability.  More information coming soon!

Save the Dates!

CCHS Spring Symposium:  February 26-28, 2015
Santa Barbara County

Join us in February as we explore Santa Barbara County – enjoy the cool breezes, the beautiful ocean views and the fascinating history!  Key destinations:

  • Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • La Purisima Mission
  • The Fabing-McKay-Spanne Historic House
  • And much more!  

Upcoming Webinar

The California Digital Newspaper Collection: An Introduction
December 17, 12pm-1pm
Cost:  Free!

Is your California library considering a newspaper digitization project? If so, the California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) is a very import resource for you. Hosted by the California State Library, this one-hour webinar will teach you about:

  • The CDNC and its high value for researchers and library practitioners
  • The free professional consultation services that the CDNC offers to California libraries and other “memory” institutions
  • How you can collaborate with the CDNC to digitize and make your newspapers available online

Learn more/register.

Renew Your CCHS Membership

It's that time of the year for CCHS:  Membership time!  You should have received an invoice in the mail to make your membership renewal quick and easy.  You can also renew your membership online:  visit Membership renewals are due
January 1, 2015.  

Questions?  Contact us!



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commented 2014-12-15 20:08:12 -0800 · Flag
Thanks John, Andrea, and Michael for volunteering and for your respective messages. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Conference of California Historical Societies
Bringing together California's historical community to share California's heritage, learn from one another and strengthen our communities.