January Newsletter 2015

President's Message 


I am starting off 2015 with several proposals. In my message for December 2014, I basically spelled out a membership campaign in which I proposed that we (Arrowhead Management) hire a temporary employee to garner as many historical societies' contact information as possible, to build our connections and membership throughout the State of California. This proposal will be on the Board meeting agenda for our February Conference.

Another proposal that I will be bringing to the February Board meeting is for the downsizing of the Board. This may shock many of you, but please hear me out.  I will not spell out all the voting members of the Board in this message. However, the number of voting Board members is over a hundred (if all attended a Symposium or special called meeting). I suggest that we downsize to a more workable Board of +/-30:

  • Executive Committee - 6
  • RVPs - 8/1 (combine 5 regions together and name a representative for each larger region - 8 total reps) OR have the 2nd VP be the representative for ALL RVPs
  • Past Presidents (14 living) - +/-7 attend (residing in the north or south depending on the location of the Symposium)
  • Editor of the Historian - 1
  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees - 1
  • Each Standing Committee Representative +/-3
  • Each Liaison - (currently - 0)

This would be a more workable board. I will not take any more of your time on explanations for this proposal.  If you are interested in learning more, please attend the February Symposium Board meeting.

Along with the proposal above, I propose that we delete the 30 day notice for special called meetings of the membership (Art.V. Sec.5.03).  I recommend that we install a 15 day notice in its place. Arguments in favor of this change will be proposed at the February Symposium Board meeting.

Another proposal for our 2015 Budget is to produce a “CCHS INFOMERCIAL”. This 15 minute production will include a combination of shots of our workshops, Santa Barbara County Symposium activities and one-on-one interviews with key representatives, describing the operations of the CCHS. We will cut and paste until we have a DVD that the RVPs can use to advertise the CCHS during their visits to various historical societies. We can also use it when we attend city, county or state level meetings and anywhere else we want to make our voice heard.

By now you are probably asking where all of these changes and additions are coming from.  Some of the changes have been on the back burner for years. I have heard about them and decided to take the bull by the horns. The RVPs suggested the DVD to help with their recruitment activities. Downsizing the Board has been talked about for a few years. With the recent $5,000.00 donation, we can now go after our long awaited need to acquire the contact information of historical societies throughout the state.  I do not plan to stop here: if there is a need, I intend on trying to fill it. I hope you will not impeach me for trying.

See you soon at our Spring Symposium in Santa Barbara County.

Speaking of the Symposium, I also came up with the idea to give our members the opportunity to respond to an upcoming email from CCHS. It will give you the choice to select "ATTEND" or "NOT ABLE TO ATTEND" for the upcoming Symposium. This will give us feedback on how many people will attend the event, so we can approximate details like food and transportation.

If you have any ideas that you have always wanted to implement for CCHS, send them along! 

John Lenau, President

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

First Vice President's Message 

Happy New Year!

It doesn’t seem possible that we are already marching through January!  This newsletter article is going to be a short discussion of our next RVP meeting, to be held in February 2015 in Lompoc, CA. Instead of asking each RVP to report on the activities and special events sponsored by the historical societies in their respective regions, I am suggesting a somewhat different format, as follows:

I would like each RVP to canvass their region’s CCHS member organizations about the following topic and/or challenge: VOLUNTEERISM.  Volunteering has a tremendously positive effect on all of our communities – and it’s good for you too! Giving back to your community is valuable in and of itself, but helping others offers many benefits to the organization you're serving as well as the surrounding community.  I am requesting that all Regional Vice Presidents gather information from the historical societies/museums, etc. in their respective regions about the following aspects of volunteerism:

  • How does each organization recruit volunteers, either as Board members, or as museum docents/helpers?
  • Has the organization been successful recruiting volunteers of all ages and from various backgrounds, expertise and interests? If so, how?
  • What sort of volunteer orientation has been successful?
  • How do they train new volunteers, and what sort of on-going training do they offer seasoned volunteers? What resources and information do new volunteers and seasoned volunteers need?
  • How have they successfully retained volunteers? 
  • How do they manage their volunteers? 
  • Have they been successful at developing a sense of belonging for volunteers: being part of an important team?
  • What can be done about a difficult, but enthusiastic volunteer?
  • Please describe any successes and/or particular challenges that your organizations have encountered while recruiting, training, retaining and rewarding volunteers.

If possible, I would like feedback from each region a couple of weeks prior to the February meeting so I can organize the information. Each RVP will have an opportunity to present their region’s information at the RVP meeting, followed by a group discussion.  Hopefully, we will all come away with some useful and meaningful ideas on how to develop successful volunteer programs for our societies and museums.

If you have any questions, please contact me at [email protected] or (925) 387-5385.

See you in Santa Barbara County,

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

Second Vice President's Message 

"No institution which does not continually test its ideals, techniques and measure of accomplishments can claim real vitality."
 -John Milton

Sounds like something we lovers of history and historical groups and institutions should focus on. Welcome to 2015 and your Board’s efforts at the revitalization of CCHS, so we can become more relevant in the everyday lives of the hundreds of small and big organizations throughout the state.

What are your resolutions for the New Year? If making history more relevant are among them, climb on board!  If you and your organization are not members of the California Conference of Historical Societies, resolve to correct that oversight.  For current CCHS members, another way to accomplish this resolution is to give the gift of CCHS membership to someone or some organization that you think can benefit and contribute to the CCHS.

Become more active in the CCHS by resolving to attend more Symposiums and Annual Meetings. Resolve to attend more workshops such as the Jan. 27th Southern California Workshop on membership development, marketing and grant writing. Resolve to become a Regional Vice President or choose to share the position/responsibilities with a colleague.  If you are already an RVP, recruit others to step up to the plate.  Be sure to take advantage of the early bird rates for the CCHS Symposium in Santa Barbara County - the deadline is February 12.

I like to think of history as the "silent H" in the so-called basics, the 3Rs (Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic).  Help us make a little noise about the silent H and make history more relevant in your life, school, libraries and historical organizations, especially the Conference of California Historical Societies.

Michael Otten, 2nd Vice President

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

Don't Miss the Southern California Workshop!


Join CCHS at its upcoming Southern California Workshop!  Hosted by the Pasadena Museum of History, this workshop will include seminars on membership development, marketing and grant writing.  Connect with other members of our historical community and learn from the experts about topics important to you and your organization.

$25 CCHS Member / $40 Non-Member
Learn More and Register Today!

Spring Symposium: Registration Open!


CCHS is headed to the beautiful Central Coast town of Lompoc!  We hope that you can join us for an inspiring weekend to kick off 2015.  The weekend's program is highlighted by a unique tour of Vandenberg Air Force Base, a journey to Old Town Lompoc where we will be sure to see the famous murals and an unforgettable gathering at the La Purisima Mission. Register prior to February 12, 2015 and receive $25 off registration! Learn more.

Help us plan for food and transportation:  Let us know if you WILL attend or WILL NOT attend

Award Nominations


Awards of Merit in seven different categories are presented each year at the CCHS Annual Meeting in June. These awards recognize the outstanding accomplishments of individuals and organizations serving the interests of CCHS and the historical community.  Submit nomination forms to John Shea ([email protected]) no later than February 15, 2015.

Learn More or Send a Nomination!


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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.