February 2016 Newsletter

President’s Message


Our February Conference in San Juan Capistrano is fast approaching. I hope you are one of the many that have already made reservations and plan on attending.

What is your organization up to? How is your membership growing? Are your fundraisers keeping up with your budget? Does your HS have field trips? We discuss this and a great deal more amongst our members at most every Conference.

Why don’t you consider attending our Conferences as some of your field trips? It will save you from putting one on. Renting a bus can cost over $1,000 a day.

I only have five (5) months remaining in my term as President, and I have a great deal yet to accomplish. Starting in April we will have Board and Trust meetings via Skype. Skype allows all of us to communicate via our computer camera and microphone to all other Board and Trust members at the same time. Some of us that live close to the Arrowhead Management office will appear in person. There will be 6 Board meetings (instead of just the 3 at our Conferences) a year along with 6 Executive Committee meetings a year. This will be a more efficient system of communication and business transactions than previously could not have been accomplished. Elections for the Executive Committee (President, 1st VP, 2nd VP, Secretary and Treasurer) will take place at the Annual Meeting in June. As Past President I will remain on the Board for two years. We have accomplished a great deal in the past few years but we have a great deal yet to do.

Our Membership Campaign is coming right along. This project is being worked on two days a week at Arrowhead Management. We have garnered over 20 new members recently.

We are now on Facebook and Twitter. If you are interested go to our website (www.californiahistorian.com) to make contact.

See you at the Spring Symposium.


All concerns and compliments are welcome.



John Lenau


Conference of California Historical Societies

[email protected]

(760) 249-4650


 First Vice President’s Message


February is turning out to be a beautiful, but busy, month for me ---- lovely sunny days, which we certainly appreciate after the rain we’ve had.  I’m all for more rain, however.  Don’t get me wrong!

It is unusually busy, because I’ve been performing my civic duty at the Martinez Superior Court.  After two days of questioning, on February 2nd I was selected as First Alternate on a Superior Court Criminal Case, which will last until at least March 4, 2016.  It is interesting, but time consuming.

Hence, this will be a short newsletter.  I want to encourage each of you to register and attend the CCHS Spring Symposium, February 25-27, 2016, in San Juan Capistrano, CA.   A really excellent program has been planned with something for everybody.

I want to remind all RVPs to submit your regional report as soon as possible to the following email addresses:

Emily O’Brien at: [email protected]

Andrea Blachman at: [email protected].

Emily will make copies to be handed out at the RVP Meeting, Friday, Feb 25, 2016, 3-5 PM.

At the meeting, RVPs will be given an opportunity to discuss and share their region’s activities, challenges and successes.  

CCHS sponsored a well-attended Workshop in Martinez on January 28.  The subjects covered were Oral History and Who is Your Audience?   As soon as the CCHS Knowledge Base is up and running, we will post the various handouts and worksheets that the speakers provided, so that all CCHS members can benefit from these excellent presentations.  

Well, time to walk to court.



Andrea Blachman

First Vice President

Conference of California Historical Societies




Second Vice President’s Message

The Tapestry of the Past

A grandson brought his 97-year-old grandfather into the Auburn Senior Center to have the World War II Navy veteran’s tax return done by the AARP Tax-Aide program for free the first week of February. The fellow bragged to anyone who would listen about the life this member of the Greatest Generation had led.

It made me realize the importance of Conference of California Historical Societies in assisting the growing number of the state’s historical organizations, museums and others in preserving the stories and items that make up the tapestry of the past for now and into the future.

I was among the 60 or so participants at the Jan. 28 workshop in Martinez at the historic Shell Clubhouse hosted by CCHS and the Martinez Historical Society. No one went away without capturing new ideas on preserving oral histories in the 21st Century and how to add pizzazz to our organizations. We hope to have some photos and tips available soon. Please make it a priority to check http://www.californiahistorian.com/ on a weekly basis to see what we are doing and provide feedback.

The Future of Us

Adrienne McGraw, who chairs the John F. Kennedy University Graduate Studies Program in Berkeley, and program Professor Susan Spero gave some scientific insights into how we can build the mindsets and skills to serve our communities.

It was about successfully mixing vision, skills, incentives, resources and an action plan into change for a future successful us. When I travel to new places here and abroad, I always like to get out for an early jog or walk. It gives a perspective I can’t find otherwise.

McGraw and Spero described this as a “10-minute walk around the block” routine, showing slides of some of the buildings and other things within a few minutes of Shell Oil’s historic refinery. We were asked what we take from those images.

You can try this exploration at the Spring Symposium Feb. 26-27 in San Juan Capistrano. Stroll down the state’s oldest residential streets, dine with one of the oldest Spanish families in the state and tour Mission San Juan Capistrano, the largest historic stone structure west of the Mississippi. Register before it is too late.

If that is not enough to entice you, we will visit the Huell Howser archives at Chapman University. Discover why the public deems Howser the state’s best known historian.  Like Howser you can discover some of the fun by taking his San Juan Capistrano “where’s the swans” road trip for free at:



1st VP Andrea Blachman welcomes David Dunham

to open the Jan. 28 CCHS workshop in Martinez.

Dunham, a professional oral history interviewer, is

a technology specialist at the Oral History Center

of the Bancroft Library. The Center has conducted

some 4,000 interviews with the vast majority

transcribed and made available in their database.

Dunham is a key figure in interviews for Rosie the

Riveter WWII Home Front Oral History Project.

He gave detailed tips on producing a quality oral

History from start to finish. To see some, go to:


“You either believe in yourself or you don’t.”—Capt. Kirk

Take a tip from Capt. James Kirk, dob March 22, 2233. Star Trek’s Kirk was made popular in part in the 1960s by actor William Shatner. Shatner, who turns 85 on March 22, did a one-night stand up routine last month on his “Shatner’s World” in San Francisco. Asked by a reporter if this star of Boston Legal and Priceline ads, was reinventing himself, Shatner gently corrected her. “I am creating more things at this age than I ever have before.”

Yes, even our fictional future becomes historic in this golden anniversary year of the Sept. 8, 1966, broadcast of the pilot for the Star Trek series, “The Man Trap.” The much ballyhooed Star Trek Beyond movie hits theaters July 22.  The Smithsonian wraps up its restoration of the 11-foot model of the USS Enterprise used in the 79 episodes of the original series for permanent display this summer. Kirk’s captain chair was auctioned off in 2002 for $304,000. The tiny town of Riverside, Iowa, (about 1,000) welcomes visitors to “Where the Trek Begins” as it prepares for its annual Trek fest and maintains a memorial heralding “The future birthplace of Captain James T. Kirk, March 22, 2233.”

See, it is hard to consider history boring. We are writing a new page daily. Fill some of those pages at the Spring Symposium Feb. 26-27. You’ll be glad you did.

See you there.


Michael Otten

2nd Vice President

Conference of California Historical Societies

[email protected]

(530) 888-7837

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