October Newsletter

President's Message 

Last year as First Vice President I was Coordinator of the Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs). Now Andrea Blachman has that duty. We continue to need 18 more RVPs throughout our state. If your region/area does not have an RVP, please contact Andrea ([email protected]) and she will send you a list of the regions (counties) that are vacant. We are continually striving to fill these vacancies. During my tenure as 1st VP, I believe we sent out a description explaining “What is an RVP” and “What are the duties of an RVP ”. I'd like to briefly answer these two questions, as we get these two questions quite often.

Article IX of the Bylaws-9.02A states:  “RVPs shall perform liaison functions between members of their respective regions and the CCHS”. In other words, RVPs are asked to visit other historical societies (CCHS members or not) and describe the activities and advantages of being a member of the CCHS. There are a few other duties for an RVP as well.  If you are interested, or know someone that may be interested in becoming an RVP, please contact Andrea Blachman today.

October is my first official Symposium as President of the CCHS. I want to clear up one thing about our Symposiums. During the events, we have what is called a “Board of Directors" (or Board) meeting. This meeting is OPEN to ALL CCHS MEMBERS. I highlight this because I/we want to invite ALL members who attend the Symposium to attend the Board meeting.  Your participation allows you as a member to have input into the functions of the CCHS. Please plan on attending.

The Executive Committee meeting is a closed meeting. The Regional Vice Presidents' meeting is basically a closed meeting. However, if you want to sit in, you may do so. If you have anything that you want on the agenda for any of these meetings, please contact any of the Executive Committee, RVP officers or the CCHS office.

We have a GREAT list of historical places for our upcoming Symposiums next year. You will not want to miss any of these great events. Please keep your calendar open. We will get you the dates and locations ASAP.

See you in Sonoma County for our Fall Symposium!

John Lenau, President

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

First Vice President's Message


It hardly seems possible that summer is over, although the chilly mornings and falling leaves remind me that indeed autumn has arrived. I hope everyone had an enjoyable summer and that you are looking forward to the CCHS Fall Symposium, to be held in Sonoma County October 23 through October 25. 

As 1st Vice President, my main duty is to act as the Chair of the Regional Vice President Council and as Coordinator of the Regional Vice Presidents (RVPs). I will try to contact all of the RVPs in the next couple of weeks to introduce myself and chat about the activities, successes, issues and challenges of each region.  We hope that all RVPs will attend the RVP meeting during the Fall Symposium. The meeting will be held on Friday, October 24, 2014 at the Sebastopol United Methodist Church from 10:00am – 12:00pm. 

RVPs act as liaisons between the various historical societies, museums, libraries, etc. in their respective regions. The RVP structure and the RVP meetings provide an informal forum for CCHS members to get acquainted with one another and share ideas, problems, successes and challenges. It provides an opportunity for members to discuss how they’ve been able to network, given the many obstacles presented by distance, etc. Are there any specific activities that have successfully brought the CCHS members in your region together to share and compare ideas? What has worked, what hasn’t? I urge you to bring your thoughts and experiences to the RVP meeting so we can learn from each other.

One of the many advantages of CCHS is that it provides an opportunity for local historians to get together with other like-minded people interested and committed to preserving local, county and state-wide history. As advocates for their particular region, each RVP’s participation in these meetings is an important link in the networking that helps us learn from each other how best to further the unique history of the many different areas of our large and varied state. We urge and encourage everyone to become active and participate in this process.

Each RVP is required to submit a report regarding their district’s activities and concerns three times a year. I am requesting that all RVPs either email their reports to me at [email protected] before October 21, 2014 or bring it in person to the RVP Meeting on October 24, 2014. If you are not sure about your RVP duties, please contact me and we can discuss this important CCHS role and responsibility. I can be reached at [email protected] or (925) 387-5385. 

I will also be contacting the historical societies in 6 of the regions that have RVP vacancies with the intent of recruiting RVPs for those areas. Specifically, I am recruiting RVPs for the following regions: R10 (San Mateo); R16 (Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne); R18 (Mono); R21 (Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz); R22 (Kings Tulare, Kern); and R24 (Ventura). Second VP Michael Otten and President John Lenau are recruiting for the following regions: R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R9, R26, R29, R31, R32 and R33. Historical Societies in those regions will be contacted by either Michael or John.

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the RVP meeting. Please bring accounts of your region’s triumphs and challenges to share with your colleagues. As I said in the July CCHS newsletter: “We can learn from each other, and by networking and sharing information and experiences, no one organization needs to re-create the wheel. Collaboration and partnership create a dynamic synergy that is stimulating and productive.”

See you in Sonoma County!


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

Second Vice President's Message 

History can be fun when and where you find it. My October findings:

"There shall be a seal of this State...and (it) shall be called "The great seal of the State of California."--Sec. 14 of the California Constitution, approved during the constitutional convention in Monterey that convened Sept. 4, 1849, a year before statehood, and concluded Oct. 13, 1849.

Call it our Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The official seal of the Conference of California Historical Societies is among many variations of the original. How the CCHS came to adopt this as their logo is a mystery to me as is most of the variations, from our driver's licenses to law enforcement badges. The seal is our touchstone with history.

Sept. 9, 2014 marked a full moon and the 164th anniversary of California's speedy recognition as the 31st state of the United States. Many seal versions show 31 stars including ours. Sept. 9, 1957 marked the start of my two score plus journalism career and the fun part of history: Writing the "Years Ago" column for The Sacramento Union:  the first day on the job was like peeling history back a day at a time. The Union was once nicknamed "The Miner's Bible." Its reporters included the likes of Mark Twain and Herb Cain.  Thus, I lament today's lackluster observance of Admission Day and the days when newspapering was regarded in the words of one editor: "The most fun one can have with your clothes on."  I hope you can join me this month to talk about adding luster to the Conference of California Historical Societies as well as a belated Admission Day - and having fun at the special Fall Symposium in Sonoma County October 23-25. Details at: www.californiahistorian.com.

Guess where this version of the state seal is:

Great seal of California 

Most importantly consider joining the growing roster of Regional Vice Presidents and gain your "seal" as an RVP. I would be happy to tell you much more. Contact me at [email protected].

Here's one more great seal!

Great Seal of California 1849

1849 depiction of original California seal with 31 stars around perimeter

Michael Otten, 2nd Vice President

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

Fall Symposium: October 23-25, 2014

The Fall Symposium is right around the corner.  Online registration will close on Friday, October 17.  Register Today!  


Visit Sonoma County and enjoy the beautiful fall colors, the incredible sites and the great historical speakers!  From the history of The Russian River area, to hearing from a descendant of Jasper O'Farrell to learning from an expert on Fort Ross, you'll be up to your ears in new knowledge about this fascinating region!  Learn more about our guest speakers.

Register Now!

The Quick and Dirty on the City of Sebastopol

Read about the charming little town of Sebastopol, our home base during the Fall Symposium. From the Miwok and Pomo native peoples to the booming apple industry in the early 1900s to the lively fistfight that helped name the city, Sebastopol is full of interesting history!  Read the history of Sebastopol.

Sebastopol - historical picture  

Do you like this page?

Be the first to comment

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