May 2016 Newsletter

President's Newsletter


The Annual Meeting in Claremont on June 23rd-25th is right around the corner.  We have many interesting activities in the works (see:  Make your reservation for the hotel and the meeting ASAP so that you do not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Hope to see you there.

On April 22nd, we had our first Executive Committee/Board of Directors/Trust meeting ONLINE (Skype and/or conference call).  I came up with this idea to make it easier for these committees to meet more than just three times a year at our symposia.  We are able to discuss our financials, upcoming events, any By-law changes, and each committee chair is able to give a report.  This gives each Board member an idea what to expect at the next symposia meeting, making them better prepared for the business at hand.
By the way, last month I mentioned the passing of our Past President Gordon Martin.  He will be replaced on the Board by our 37th Past President Arthur A. Almeida.

Executive Committee (EC) Elections will take place at the Annual Membership Meeting in Claremont.  Every two (2) years, we have our elections.  My term 2014-2016 has gone by quickly.  I have enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to being the 46th Past President on the EC for the next two years.

I have mentioned before that our Membership Campaign is going like gang busters.  We have been making contacts from lapsed members and new members, which now total over 79 additional CCHS members in the past year.  We have a goal for over 100 in the next few months.  There are approximately 2,000 historical societies in the state, and we plan on contacting most all of them in the next year.

All concerns and compliments are welcome.


John Lenau
Conference of California Historical Societies
(760) 249-4650


First Vice President's Newsletter


I knew it was spring Saturday morning when I was walking down the Martinez Shoreline and saw a pair of geese with their three goslings out for a walk.  The proud parents were marching along, the female in front, the three fluffy goslings scurrying along behind, trying to keep up, and the male bringing up the rear, watchful and protective of his precious family.  It truly was a joy to see this pair of geese on their first outing with their new family.  It reminded me that the thrill of seeing the baby ducks and goslings this time of year is just one of the many reasons I enjoy living in Martinez.

Work continues at the Martinez Museum.  There is just one room left to be painted, and the museum is looking fresh and inviting.  We decided to take advantage of our down time and have the hardwood floors refinished.  That is being done now.  Once the painting is completed and the floors refinished, it will be time to design and mount the new exhibits.

All of the literature about creating a welcoming visitor experience mentions the importance of being aware of your target audience.  Deciding which visitors you are trying to reach can be a key tool in helping you focus your efforts.  Instead of trying to serve everyone, it is best to do a great job of meeting the needs of your target visitors.  We've been analyzing this concept and realized that our audience includes individuals and groups who are basically interested in learning about Martinez history.  This includes new residents as well as long-time Martinez residents and the descendants of our founding families.  Also, because Martinez is the county seat of Contra Costa County, we have a lot of jurors from various parts of the county in town for jury duty, and they are always looking for a place to spend their free time.  Then, there is the occasional out-of-town visitor.  So, we are trying to create displaces about the town of Martinez that will appeal to and engage a large and varied audience.

We are also aware that today's consumers crave authentic experiences and want a "meaningful, emotional, intellectual, or practical reward, based on real, rather than fabricated, environments or artifacts."  And free time for such experiences is a precious commodity... there are approximately twelve minutes left in the day for arts, culture and entertainment.  Those of us in the business of providing cultural and entertaining experiences for our visitors' free time must be aware that "social interaction, active participation, comfortable surroundings, challenging, new or unusual experiences, opportunities to learn, and a sense of doing something worthwhile" are the components that make an emotional experience rewarding (Creating Great Visitor Experiences by Stephanie Weaver).  That is the goal that we are striving for as we think about and create displays and exhibits for the Martinez Museum.  It is quite a challenge and not easily achieved as we consider the constraints of small budgets and limited space.  But we have a wonderful story to tell, and I am constantly reminded of a quote from the newly published book about the Broadway musical "Hamilton"... how "stories harden into history".  I am hopeful that the stories we share about Martinez and the people who have lived here will harden into an interesting and compelling history about our town.  That's a tall order, but we're working on it.

A reminder to all RVPs:
A letter was sent to all RVPs around May 1st thanking each of you for your service to CCHS and asking if you are interested and able to continue performing the responsibilities outlined in the letter.  If you are unable to commit to these tasks, please let me know as soon as possible so we can begin searching for a replacement.  If you know someone who you think would be a strong candidate for your region, please let us know.  You can e-mail your responses to me at [email protected] or to Emily O'Brien at [email protected].  If you'd like to discuss the contents of the letter, please feel free to contact me at 925-387-5385.

As RVPs, your main responsibility is to act as the liaison between the local historical societies in your region and CCHS.  We are developing an RVP training program which we believe you will find helpful in performing the tasks that we ask of you.

The strength and success of CCHS depends largely on an engaged RVP program.  By actively representing your region, you will demonstrate and validate the CCHS mission which is to See. Learn. Share.

And finally, I want to encourage everyone to check the CCHS website about the CCHS 62nd Annual Meeting to be held in June 23-25, 2016 in beautiful Claremont, CA.  There will be speakers and workshops on various aspects of historical involvement.  Watch for more about the annual meeting next month.

Andrea Blachman
CCHS, First Vice President

Second Vice President's Message
Weighing in on Money and History at Claremont, June 23-25!!!


gold_scale.png pennies.png

Just getting my two-cents in: With history and money, you just can't seem to get enough.  Yet by the sheer amount, we have never had so much.

For our 62nd Annual Meeting, we have worked hard to dish up the best, most interesting and entertaining history for the least amount of money we can get.  Get a hint of how good a bargain it is by checking

It is important to get a sufficient attendance.  On some of our meetings, we kind of feel like the U.S. Mint when it has cost nearly twice as much to make pennies and nickels than they are worth yet can't discontinue because of the importance to the economy.  In our case, it is the importance of history and our own economic well-being.

If you have been following what we are doing, you know we are streamlining operations and figuring out boosting membership and services.  We are seeking to reduce membership categories and raise rates.  That means you should be seriously thinking about renewing at the current rates and inviting other history-oriented organizations and individuals to become members.

money_jar.jpg We are asking for donations to our Trust Fund, to include CCHS in your estate planning, and to make donations to support our special cash awards to students at the California Finals of National History Day.  If you are receiving required minimum donations from your IRA (individual retirement account), you can reduce your taxable amount by making deductible contributions to CCHS, as I am doing.
Politics and history of money and the 2016 Elections

If you were wondering about the scale above, that's me in my Levi's sneakers checking my weight in gold at the country's only official Gold Rush museum in my home town of Auburn.  When this was written, at the current gold rate it came to a cool $3.2 million.  Wow!

And for the two cents, it was in 1864 that "In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. money.  It was prompted by a minister's letter to Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase during the Civil War.

It rapidly expanded to all coinage except for some interruptions, primarily 1883 to 1938 for the nickel.  After Congress declared the phrase to be the national motto, supposedly replacing and/or supplementing the unofficial e. pluribus unum (out of many one) that was adopted in 1782 when the Great Seal of the United States was created.

During the Cold War, Congress and President Dwight Eisenhower mandated that "In God We Trust" be printed on all U.S. currency, but it took the Bureau of Engraving and Printing until the mid-1960s to be implemented.

While the news media's focus is on Hillary-Bernie and Trump and the gang, I am more excited about the politics of money and hubbub over the faces that will show up come 2020 or so.  Supposedly, we will see which women will be the first faces to appear since Martha Washington showed up on a $1 silver certificate in the 1880s-1890s.  An image of Pocahontas being baptized has been featured earlier on the reverse of some twenties.  silver_certificate_2.png
   A Martha Washington silver certificate
A Little Funny Money History and more...

The Obama administration decided it would be a good idea to celebrate the centennial of the 19th Amendment in 1920 by replacing the image of Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first treasurer, on the $10 bill.  Early bets were on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

But the popularity of the zany hip-hop Founding Fathers hit musical "Hamilton" changed all that.  Suddenly, the focus shifted dramatically to change the $20 bill with its visage of President Andrew Jackson to former slave Harriet Tubman, who served in the Union cause during the Civil War.

And there will be a bevy of women on the new $5, $10 and $20 bills whose designs will be announced in 2020, unless the next president and Treasury Secretary change all that.

The nation's 76th Treasury Secretary, Jacob J. "Jack" Lew, said the reverse of the new Tubman will display images of Jackson and the White House.  While Hamilton will remain the face of the $10, the reverse will be a photo of the 1913 Women's Suffrage Parade from the Capitol and honoring suffrage leaders Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott.

Tubman.png Abraham Lincoln will stay as the face of the $5, but the reverse will highlight historic events at the Lincoln Memorial with images of opera singer Marian Anderson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Lew's Call for women nominations to replace the historic Hamilton gave him a list of 274 to pick from.  The list includes Hamilton's wife, Elizabeth, and many First Ladies, from Abigail Adams and Dolley Madison to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Pat Nixon, and Lady Bird Johnson.
Proposed Tubman image  

Many of the other interesting nominees you may be sure to recognize: Martha Raye, Sally Ride, Florence Chadwick, Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Betsy Ross, Amelia Earhart, Mary Baker Eddy, Joan Rivers, Lucille Ball, Wilma Rudolph, Sacagawea, Pocahontas, Wilma Mankiller, Sarah Winnemucca, Margaret Sanger, Kate Smith, Gertrude Stein, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Shirley Temple Black, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Katherine Graham, Katherine Hepburn, Billie Holiday, Julia Ward Howe, Mahalia Jackson, Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Helen Keller, Grace Kelly, Coretta Scott King, Hedy Lamarr, Dorothea Lange, Myrna Loy, Clare Booth Luce, Moms Mabley, Bridget “Biddy” Mason, Aimee Semple McPherson. Margaret Mead, Marilyn Monroe, Grandma Moses, Carrie Nation, Rosa Parks, Georgia O’Keefe, Annie Oakley, Dorothy Parker, Minnie Pearl, Mary Pickford, Sylvia Plath, Ivy Baker Priest, Bella Abzug, Louisa May Alcott, Maya Angelou, Lauren Bacall, Pearl S. Buck, Rachel Carson, June Carter Cash.

Money, Money, Money Fun Stuff

The Treasury notes that portrait changes are rare with the last ones coming between 1914 and 1928.  The face of the $10 went from Andrew Jackson to Hamilton, the $20 from Grover Cleveland to Jackson, the $500 from John Marshall to William McKinley, and the $1,000 from Hamilton to Cleveland.

Marshall.jpg McKinley.jpg
Faces on the $500: Marshal and McKinley

Other money madness:

  • In March, San Francisco designated the California Historical Society as the lead partner to restore the 1874 U.S. Mint.  The 3-story, 100,000 square-foot building in 1934 held a third of the nation's gold supply.  The National Trust for Historic Places has had this mint on its list of 11 Most Endangered Historic Places since 1994.  Coins haven't been minted there since the 1930s, and it was given to the city in 2003 to serve as a museum.
  • The Bureau of Engraving and Printing prints nearly 25 million notes a day with a $600 million face value.
  • If you are one of those multi-billionaires, it would take you 317 years to spend $10 billion at the rate of $1 per second.
  • Don't call it paper money.  It is a blend: 75% cotton, 25% linen.
  • The lucky 7 bills in circulation today: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100.  Though the $2 bill is still regularly printed, few are seen in commerce with reports that some new clerks think they are phony.
  • $500 bill with President William McKinley: Last one printed was 1945.
  • Hamilton was on the original $1,000 bill, replaced by Grover Cleveland, 22nd and 24th President, discontinued 1969.  165,372 known to exist.
  • James Madison on the $5,000 bill with fewer than 400 known to exist.
  • Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Treasury Secretary, appears on the biggest bill made for public: $10,000, stopped in 1969 with a few hundred known to exist.
  • Currency in circulation hit $1 trillion for the first time March 16, 2011 and now pegged at $1.45 trillion.  Twenty years ago, it was some $1 trillion less.  A partial breakdown: $1 bills- $11.4 billion, $2 bills- $2.3 billion, $5 bills- $13.7 billion, $10 bills- $19 billion, $20 bills- $179 billion, $50 bills- $80 billion, $100 bills- nearly $1.1 trillion.
  • Inflation: The US population increased 16.2% (more than 52 million) in 20 years, while the currency in circulation has increased 360 percent.  The Federal Reserve says at any given time from a half to two-thirds of the currency is held elsewhere.
The Nickel's 150th and Coin Funnies

Remember Teresa Brewer and her
"Put another nickel in
In the nickelodeon
All I want is having you
And music, music, music."

You may just want to see and listen to the YouTube version as you commemorate the 150th anniversary of the nickel.

nickels.jpg The first nickel was minted in 1866, the year after the Civil War ended.  The nickel replaced the copper so-called three-cent nickel and was coined in silver like its much smaller half-dime that that was coined until 1873.  President Andrew Johnson in 1866 authorized the nickel to be made of nickel and copper.  Some 15 million 5-cent nickels were produced the first year, more than 100 times the number of half-dimes the year before.

The production level last year for the current 2006 designed Jefferson Nickel with an 1800 image of President Jefferson and a more detailed Monticello image on the reverse reached more than 1.5 billion.  Today, it is 75% copper and only 25% nickel.  During World War II, nickel was so precious to the war effort that it became a non-nickel nickel.  The composition: 56% copper, 35% silver, and 9% manganese. 
For dozens more coin "fun facts" go to the U.S. Mint's "H.I.P. Pocket Change" website.

See you at Claremont in June to hear what you think about money matters.


Michael Otten
CCHS, Second Vice President
[email protected]

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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.