ANCHR History, 1971 - 1998

Lois McDonald

The Association for Northern California Historical Research is one of the philanthropic communities gathered under the umbrella of the California State University at Chico Foundation. As such, it joins the University in serving Northeastern California, the counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Trinity, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Glenn, Colusa, Plumas, Yuba, Sutter and Butte.

Shortened in informal usage to ANCHR, pronounced, "anchor," the association may be doing itself a disservice by using nomenclature that does not clearly spell out its purpose and functions. This history seeks to outline 26 years of achievement and to review those original purposes to put them in historical perspective. While ANCHR may be indeed an "anchor" to our area’s past, it is also a hatchway to discovery for the students of the California State University campus and for the public in our 12-county service area.

The Association for Northern California Records and Research is unique in its relationship with a state university. While the preservation of archives and published material, and the encouragement of research, is what a university is all about, a partnership with governmental bodies to save important documents--the actual raw materials provided by the daily routines of local agencies to meet the needs of the citizens--is different and untested elsewhere, to my knowledge.

Beginnings

The problem of storage space is one with which many institutions in California have become acutely aware. Although the coming of age of computers has helped in condensing and storing current records, the state and its delegate bodies, the counties, have acquired some 140-years’ worth of public records in their original form. Some counties, through the wisdom of planning ahead or the luck of a rich tax base, have been able to set aside space to gather, index, and make available these records.

Of great assistance in the preservation of records have been the new techniques for copying and retrieval on film. Butte County was not among those counties to make full or substantial use of this method for consolidating records until comparatively recent years. Even so, the law requires that some records be saved, when originally compiled in longhand, as most were before 1900 and even later.

In 1970 it came to the attention of several members of then Chico State College faculty that access to any but the most recent county records was very difficult. For years, hampered by the shrinking space in the 1857 courthouse in Oroville and adjacent administrative buildings, county officials had stored volumes that statutes required be saved in the basement of the courthouse. The unused (for incarceration purposes) of the old county jail building and the dirt cellar of the Oroville Veterans’ Memorial Hall were also being used for storage. Without the escort of a county employee with a key and some idea of the storage system, a person could not make use of volumes of fascinating material containing records vital to historians.

More serous yet was the fact that statutory requirements for the retention had passed for some records; these were being considered for the dump or a fire. In fact, some records were dumped, and there were some fires at the infirmary grounds from which other alarmed county employees rescued volumes. To this day, some of these rescued records surface. Several books of records found their way to the historical society. Others are in private hands.

Had this material been micro-filmed, the situation would have been less critical, but so far as has been ascertained, none of the destroyed records had been copied on film. The entire 19th Century was about to be wiped out so far as the Butte County Officials were concerned.

It was into this situation that ANCHR was born. Credit for the idea and its implementation into an organized effort goes to a handful of persons within the CSU, Chico faculty and the community of Chico. Dr. Margaret Trussell, at that time an Assistant Professor of Geography, was the spearhead for the project with strong allies in Dr. Norris A. Bleyhl, Director of Libraries at CSU, CHICO, Dr. Clarence McIntosh, Professor of American History, and W.H. Hutchinson, likewise a history professor with a keen interest in U.S. Western history, especially that of California.

 

Community leadership came from Dorothy J. Hill, a recent graduate student in anthropology, Theodore Meriam, Chico businessman and former Chico mayor, and Joseph McGie, a member of the staff of the Butte County Superintendent of Schools with expertise in curriculum for social studies.

This group was expanded rather quickly to include Grayson Price, Chico City Attorney and Chairman of the Chico State College Advisory Board, Mary Lemcke, journalist and member of the CSU, CHICO Advisory Board, D.C. Swinney, Butte County Treasurer, and Thelma white, Glenn County historian and teacher. John Nopel, a member of the County Superintendent of Schools staff, was also interested as a local historian and collector.

Members of the college administrative staff were approached. John Hetherington, Director of News Services on campus, was an early participant. Robert E. Hill, President of CSU, CHICO, lent support through the involvement of Ed Masterson, who at that time was an assistant to the president. His title was Director of Development.

With the approval of the Board of Supervisors of Butte County, and with tacit permission from President Hill’s office, when the records of the Butte County Assessor’s office dating in the 19th Century were declared free for transfer to a new site, Dr. Bleyhl arranged for temporary storage in the former training school on campus, the Aymer Jay Hamilton School building. Thus was the first and primary objective of ANCHR achieved.

Organization

The undertaking of a group of preservation-minded persons required some formal organization. Margaret Trussel and Ted Meriam were charged with writing by-laws. The temporary officers and board chosen to lead until the first membership meeting accepted these. Dorothy J. Hill was the acting president and was elected to fill that office officially on November 30, 1971.The bylaws restated the objectives, recognized the sponsorship of the college, outlined levels of membership and described the makeup of the ANCHR Board of Directors. These were to consist of four officers and four directors at large. Appointment of a Project Director was provided.

Since the early days of its operation, ANCHR found that limiting the directors at large to four both limited the representation from a broader geographic area and did not provide enough persons to conduct the necessary duties that evolved. Thereafter the number on the board was increased so that now ANCHR has provision for ten members at large; each elected for two-year terms, with no restrictions on the number of terms that may be served.

The first slate of officers was as follows: Dorothy Hill, President; Joe McGie, Vice-president; Norris Bleyhl, Secretary; and W.H. Hutchinson, Treasurer. Dr. Margaret Trussell was appointed as Project Director. In concurring with this action, the college gave Dr. Trussell released time from her teaching load.

A number of committees were envisioned. The Membership Committee was first named, consisting of Charlotte Brink, Biggs; Nancy Stewart, Chico; Alma Blasingame, Durham; Thelma White, Willows, and Alice Mathiesen, Red Bluff.

Publicity releases for news media was made easier by the assistance of John Hetherington of CSU, CHICO staff. Most ANCHR announcements went out as college publicity.

Formalization of Objectives

During 1971, the planners composed a list of the ways that ANCHR might be strengthened:

  1. ANCHR would give financial aid and material help in developing a Northeastern California Collection at CSU, Chico Library.

  2. ANCHR would foster research in local California history, promote learning activities and publish research papers.

   3. ANCHR would acquaint people through the service counties with the value of preserving primary records.

Communication with Members

The bylaws provided for an advisory board or council to be appointed by the ANCHR Board from the counties served. The bylaws provided for at least one meeting annually, in which the council would advise the Board. This arrangement was modified to monthly lunch meetings, as the help from one meeting would be minimal at best.

In practice, the advisory council did not work well. The distances in the area were too great for frequent meetings, and attendance was unpredictable. Increasing the number on the Board, first to six and later to ten members at large, gave the working group more representation and has facilitated

The first contest set rules for entries at three levels, with a prize to be given at spreading tasks among 14 persons. By retaining past presidents as voting members of the Board, this number is now 15 persons, with ten annual meeting times.

The bylaws provide for an annual meeting of the membership. It is customary to invite a speaker of recognized expertise in some facet of history and its preservation and research. Custom developed that an annual publication of some original research in Northeastern California would be ready for distribution to members at that November luncheon meeting. Thus members have acquired by 1998, a small library of original research of people and events in their home area. Many of these publications are out of print; some have been reprinted. Extra copies are always made available to sell to libraries and individuals. Those available for purchase today are listed elsewhere on this site.

A newsletter, begun by W.H. Hutchinson and carried on by various members of the Board, is distributed two-four times a year. Originally the newsletter was called Dusted Tomes. Today its title is less romantic, usually appearing as ANCHR News & Notes.

In its earliest year, ANCHR enjoyed college assistance with mailing costs. Now the practice has been discontinued as budgets of colleges and universities have been cut back statewide. Now all mailings, including media releases, are done at ANCHR’s expense. We are aware that this makes it more imperatives that we work harder at keeping our work before the public.

ANCHR’s History Competition

By the fall of 1972, an ANCHR committee had put into motion the machinery for an ANCHR Local History Competition. The rules and scope of this contest have changed over the years.

The purpose to arouse interest in research and writing at all school levels, and among the public at large, has remained the same. The contest papers must be about persons and/or events in Northeastern California. Primary sources are encouraged, such as those provided in the Northeastern California Collection and the ANCHR Collection at CSUC.

 

Qualified judges were to evaluate all entries, writer unidentified, and decide if an entry met the standards set by the rules.

Three types of presentation were made available: narrative based on research; narrative based on oral interview(s); and a presentation of historical photographs with suitable accompanying narrative. This might also include a video presentation.

The first annual contest in 1973 was underwritten by a gift from Fabrics West, Chico business. Adult level prizes were $50; student level prizes, $25 each. The winners of this first contest, as well as all subsequent ones, are listed as an addendum to this ANCHR history. If no entry was made, or if entries did not measure meet the standards set by the rules, no prize was given for the year.

Over time, the Board became aware of such problems as: lack of interest, and a lack of research ability on the high school and elementary school levels (with an apparent unwillingness among teachers to combine instruction in social studies with writing and organizational skills. Notable exceptions to this weakness were found in one Red Bluff High School history classroom, where local research and writing were encouraged and required. A middle school teacher in Chico also had instituted an oral history program in her classes.)

It was decided during an assessment of the weaknesses of the contest rules that the prizes did not provide enough monetary incentive to get the depth of research ANCHR was seeking, and in well-written form. It was deemed wise to encourage resubmission of entries, with constructive criticism from the judges offered as motivation and help. We have few instances in which this offer was taken advantage of.

With the second contest a professional level was added. Gradually, all reference to academic level was removed from the rules and one annual prize of $500 was offered.

The rules for a time eliminated all but research narrative from entries, since judging the comparative worth of a video, for example, with a narrative presentation, was something our judges felt unqualified to do.

Workshops

 

Another important form of ANCHR’s fostering of research and learning activity has been through workshops. The first three were all sponsored in 1973, though the pattern has been an annual workshop.

In January 1973, a workshop focusing on genealogy was held, followed in May by another presenting the basics of historical research.

In the fall of 1973, a three-session workshop studied the techniques of oral history, including the determination of who make good subjects for interviewing. Willa Baum, whose work in the Bancroft Library as Regional Oral History Specialist has won wide recognition, was the key speaker to attendees. College credit was offered at that time for ANCHR workshops completed, both to students on campus and for teachers who needed to fill certain credit requirements.

Another oral history workshop was offered in conjunction with Shasta Community College in spring, 1975. ANCHR President, Dorothy J. Hill, conducted it on the Shasta campus.

In the spring of 1974, ANCHR brought Dr. Norman Schumway of Fullerton State College to the campus for a follow-up workshop in oral history.

This interest in oral history by those who were learning to use it effectively led to an accumulation of a number of tapes in Special Collections, Meriam Library. Some were of more value to local historians than others were much depending on the subject matter sought. In November 1975, a bibliography of oral history tapes was printed and distributed to members.

Other oral history workshops ANCHR has offered were in 1978 (Leader, Ronald Larson of the Forest History Society), in 1990 in Redding, and in 1997 on the use of oral history in writing local history by local authors.

ANCHR has not offered a workshop every year, on occasion helping to fund other campus training sessions.

A two-day workshop presented by Peter Palmquist, Humboldt State University authority on identification and preservation of old photographs was well attended. The growing collection of regional photos in Special Collections, Meriam Library, as well as in many local history society collections, points to the need to keep current with ways of preserving and using such photographs. The advent of computerized techniques is exciting, as demonstrated at the 1995 ANCHR Workshop on the topic "Using

 

Photographs in Historical Research." The implications of digital access to photographs through the Internet are many, including the dangers of images being pirated and used without permission.

In 1993, Mary Ellen Bailey, ANCHR member and part-time staff member at Special Collections, arranged a workshop on finding and using federal, state and county records. Seventy-five persons attended this workshop. An equally popular workshop arranged with ANCHR, California State Archives, and Northern California Association of Museums in 1994 demonstrated preservation methods for a number of resources: photos, maps, tapes and paper records.

The 1999 ANCHR Workshop in March will focus on business records in the ANCHR collection, and how these can be used in historic research. Mrs. Bailey is also organizing this.

Building the ANCHR Collection

For some years, the ANCHR collection grew rapidly, as business records, personal collections, various research notes, and old public records from other counties than Butte were incorporated. There has since been a moratorium on acceptance of more material because of expanding need for space by CSUC. Part of the agreement with the college was that ANCHR would provide the funds for "housekeeping items." This began with a $500 allocation for shelving. College maintenance staff constructed these fairly primitive bookholders.

Other than public records collecting, one of the first projects was to have some John Bidwell papers on loan from the State Library duplicated. This was a joint project with the biographical research committee of the Chico Women’s Club under Voncella Eastham. ANCHR gave $150 toward these costs. The Board also volunteered ANCHR’s co-sponsorship with Special Collections of loan of Bidwell Papers housed in Sutter’s Fort for copying. The objective is to have a research library of Bidwell papers in the library nearest Rancho Chico.

Dr. Bleyhl, ANCHR member and CSU, CHICO Director of Libraries, prepared a set of rules governing the use of the ANCHR Collection, which would be in harmony with general use rules in the college library.

With shelves provided for the volumes, and rules in place for their use, the ANCHR Board proposed that the Butte County Records housed in former

 

Aymer Jay Hamilton Training School be opened for public research. This required the use of many volunteers; both for sorting and labeling the records and also providing supervision during the hours the doors were open. Ruby Swartzlow of Paradise, Susan Kendall and Nancy Stewart of Chico and Alma Blasingame of Durham worked without remuneration. Paid for their work were Jacqueline Hall and Bill Jensen, CSU, CHICO students.

Under an arrangement with the Selective Service Board, a conscientious objector, Frank Hall, was permitted to work a number of weeks in lieu of military draft.

The first catalog of Butte County Public Records in ANCHR was prepared in October 1972. Copies were distributed to ANCHR members at the annual meeting of that year. This report was not made available to the public, in part because the content of the collection as a whole was yet to be analyzed.

Growth of the Collection

In 1973, Dorothy Hill, Dr. Bleyhl and Thelma White went by invitation to Willows to catalog old public records of Glenn County. Negotiations with Glenn County continued, with the Glenn County Board of Supervisors deciding finally in 1975 to give the records to the Willows Museum Association for safekeeping. At a later date, some of these records were transferred to the University for keeping.

It is important to note that the counties cannot legally give public records away. They can only be transferred for storage.

Work continued with the county officials in Oroville. Alma Blasingame and Dr. Bleyhl completed a survey of records stored in the "drunk tank" of the "old" Butte County Jail. The Supervisors gave permission for the transfer of some records and the University approved acceptance. The Butte County Counsel stipulated that welfare and juvenile court cases were required by law to be kept closed to the public. Some records were subsequently returned to the county. Marriage and public health records are also statistics, which the county may not authorize, be removed off county-owned premises.

In 1974, Clark Nelson, Butte County Clerk, transferred a sizeable number of court records to ANCHR. These included the records of the Probate Court in the metal filing cabinets, which had housed them since the 1850s. Space was found for these cabinets (also including early county coroner records) in the Special Collections section of Meriam Library.

 

In 1975 an additional acquisition arrived from Nelson’s department. These were miscellaneous records dating from 1855 to 1877. County Recorder, Louis Kluender, also freed more records for transfer.

The 1975 earthquake centered near Oroville made the 1857 courthouse unsafe for further use. Dr. Phyllis Bush, newly named Director of the Learning Area Resources Center, Chico State’s Library, visited the courthouse with Ed Masterson of President Stanford Cazier’s office to consider what materials they would accept. As a result, all concerned parties approved 575 volumes for removal. Six CSUC custodians were given released time to transfer material from the damaged courthouse and the old jail building next door.

Butte County issued an official certification as stipulated keepers of the Probate Records to the University. These dated from 1852 to 1910. Because the public often requires information from these old probates for legal purposes, Dr. Bleyhl was deputized with power to use the county seal on certified copies.

Tehama County, under the impetus of Senate Bill No. 521 permitting county supervisors to establish county records and historical commissions, in 1976 decided to retain all its public records in Red Bluff, but to publish a bibliography of the Tehama Collection in the Tehama County Library. Through Andrew Osborne, and other liaisons, ANCHR agreed to publish the bibliography and to be a selling agent. Copies of the microfilm of many Tehama County records were made available to ANCHR for research purposes.

As a footnote, although ANCHR encouraged the Butte County Supervisors to appoint a commission as authorized by Senate Bill No. 521, they did not act. This lack of foresight in itself underlines the need for an association such as ANCHR to provide plans for retention and preservation of important public records.

In the 1980s, a number of other county and city records were acquired by ANCHR.

Reciprocation of Efforts by CSUC

Dr. Stanford Cazier became president of Chico State College in the fall of 1971. He approved the released time to Dr. Trussell as ANCHR Project Director. He also welcomed the opportunity to speak at the first ANCHR annual meeting in November, 1971.This strong support has not been evident

 

by a number of presidents who followed Dr. Cazier, a fact that ANCHR has felt in efforts to consolidate its collection and to expand its services.

During ANCHR’s first year, the college gave ANCHR members the privilege of a library card. In a few years, arrangements were made that librarians at the checkout station in the library could sell memberships. This facilitated the granting of library privileges and increased ANCHR membership.

This arrangement did not to last beyond 1985. An incident reportedly caused librarians on the main floor desk inconvenience and fear. A disgruntled person whose ANCHR membership had expired displayed obnoxious behavior and made threats when denied checkout privileges.

Judith Sessions, newly appointed librarian at the university, questioned the wisdom of issuing library cards to non-students merely on the basis of membership in ANCHR. In spite of the fact that this was written into the agreement signed by the college president in 1980, the practice was discontinued. As a sop to those who had long had this privilege and had not abused it, the library administration stipulated that ANCHR members in 1982 and earlier could continue to get library cards on showing the current year’s membership card.

In 1998, another attempt was made to have this privilege restored, but with no success. There are a number of other university-affiliated groups that would also enjoy having this privilege to offer to members, and the library administration considers it would be too much of a drain from the basic purpose, that of serving enrolled students.

On other fronts, the university made good on a number of commitments. In the fall of 1973, the year that university status was achieved, the administration agreed to match funds for transcription of oral history tapes being acquired through persons trained in ANCHR workshops. In all, the university gave $1500 toward this project.

In May 1975, The ANCHR Collection was moved from Amer Jay Hamilton School site to the first floor of the new library facility. This expanded complex, as noted above, was dubbed the Learning Area Resources Center, and referred to as LARC. The audio-visual department was combined with the library, though housed separately in the basement. It also housed the national public radio outlet, KCHO, when that was established on campus.

On LARC’s first floor, the ANCHR Collection was much more visible and

In 1980 Theodore "Ted" Meriam assumed the presidency of ANCHR. He and Prof. W.H. Hutchinson, ANCHR Treasurer, devoted time to working out accessible to researchers. The collection was secured within walls, and the door was locked. A key was readily obtained for those using the collection anytime within regular library hours.

A Formal Agreement Signed

In 1976, the year of the Oroville earthquake, following which 600 volumes of public records came to the CSUC campus, a reorganization of Library administration threatened ANCHR’s position in the library. Dr. Phyllis Bush was made Dean of Learning Resources, in effect replacing Dr. Bleyhl as top administrator of the library facilities. He was reassigned as Director of Regional Information and Records Project. With his usual conscientious approach, he turned to preparing a bibliography of all Northeastern California- related holdings within the library. This was a project dear to his heart, but decisions for use of library space and planning were taken from his bailiwick. Dr. Trussel had requested replacement as ANCHR Project Director and Dr. Bleyhl was appointed. In spite of this title, he was powerless to counter a decision made by Dean Bush that the ANCHR Collection, other than that portion housed within Special Collections, would be moved to the unfinished fourth floor of the LARC building. There was no lighting to speak of, no sanitary facilities, no heat and no janitorial service. There were no desks at which researchers might sit. A special elevator key was required for access to the collection.

Although the programs initiated by Dr. Bleyhl with his new assignments as Project Director and in charge of regional resources gave ANCHR the benefit of his professional attention, a definite feeling of insecurity began to be felt. Especially so, when Dr. Bleyhl announced his retirement effective at the end of the 1979-80 academic year. Dr. Trussell was again appointed to the important post as Project Director with ANCHR. However, she was given no released time.

 

A need for a formal agreement with the university had been apparent for some time. Drafts were drawn up for consideration. Dr. Bush expressed concern that the ultimate size of the ANCHR Collection might be burdensome to LARC. She questioned the use of faculty time that would be needed to service the collection. She had no quarrel with the granting of library privileges to ANCHR members. Several other groups, including the members of the Alumni Association at that time had library cards.

 

In 1980 Theodore "Ted" Meriam assumed the presidency of ANCHR. He and Prof. W.H. Hutchinson, ANCHR Treasurer, devoted time to working out unresolved problems with the administration and getting a commitment in writing signed by both parties. It was signed on April 17, 1980.

As luck would have it, Dr. Cazier, always a friend of ANCHR and approving of its goals had just left the university presidency to take a position in Utah. Interim President, Dr. Robert Fredenburg, signed for CSUC, Mr. Meriam for ANCHR, and Len McCandless for the CSUC Foundation.

The purposes of ANCHR were repeated and in listing here the items in the agreement, an editorial comment as to its present status follows:

ANCHR will continue to:

  1. Foster original research and publication within Northeastern California, the service area of the college. (This has continued)

  2. Discover, collect and access to the library, original publications, manuscripts and documents pertinent to the history of Northeastern California. (This function has been sharply curtailed by a moratorium placed on addition to the ANCHR Collection in 1988 by Fred Ryan, Acting CSUC librarian)

  3. Solicit memberships, donations, grants and other forms of contribution to ANCHR annually or more frequently. (This activity has been curtailed, in part by the uncertainty of our relationship to CSUC; in part by the ANCHR Board’s own lack of aggression)

  4. Assist with the identification and inventorying of historical materials collected. (ANCHR members have responded to any request from the Special Collections Department with assistance)

  5. Publish a newsletter/journal to the membership of ANCHR and others concerning its collection and recent activities. (A newsletter is distributed, at least twice annually)

  6. Publicize to the University community and others the contents of the ANCHR collection on a periodic basis. (Our publicity is chiefly related to publications, advertising the contest and our workshop and annual meeting).

The University will continue to provide support to ANCHR in the form of:

  1. Library personnel to care for the ANCHR collection and be responsible to the Library Head of Special Collections. (That part of the Collection housed within Special Collections has regular library staff attention. That portion stored in the remote warehouse does not, although some assistance is provided in student help by an ANCHR grant to Special Collections)

  2. Provide suitable facilities in L.A.R.C. for those portions of the ANCHR collection receiving frequent utilization. (These most frequently called for materials are available in Special Collections)

  3. Provide suitable storage for ANCHR original materials receiving infrequent utilization. (As early as 1984 the ANCHR Board was advised that the fourth floor of the Meriam Library would soon be finished and opened as an expansion of regular library departments. .The bulk of the ANCHR collection of Butte County records was moved to a warehouse on campus where there was no temperature control and considerable exposure to dirt and weathering. As this is written, ANCHR is aware that the University plans to raze that warehouse within the next few months or years and that no other space on campus has been offered)

  4. Provide Library courtesy cards to membership of ANCHR. (As stated above, this section of the agreement was rescinded by the CSUC library administration in 1985).

  5. Whenever possible and necessary for the continuance of ANCHR activities provide assigned time to faculty or others to edit ANCHR manuscripts for possible publication or library utilization. (Any such donated time from faculty or library staff is now strictly on a volunteer basis)

When, in 1980, this agreement was signed, the occasion was overshadowed by the resignation of Dr. Bleyhl, staunch worker and defender of ANCHR goals. As a mark of his contribution to the cause of historic preservation, in March 1979, the California Historical Society bestowed its Award of Merit on Dr. Norris Bleyhl.

A Few Footnotes to the 1970s

While project director, Dr. Bleyhl was able to obtain the work of several Comprehensive Education Training Act (CETA) employees. Through this federally funded jobs training program, considerable classifying, indexing and sorting was done on the ANCHR collection. Ray Janish already had skills working with official records; he took on indexing the old district and county court records, 185-1880. He also indexed Articles of Incorporation, 1851- 1918;Certificates of Partnership, 1874-1898; Declarations of Intent for prospective citizens and Insane Commitments.

Another event was ANCHR’s participation in the filming of a cattle drive by cowhands and family of the Baccala Ranch. This event, the spring moving of cattle from the valley ranch to mountain pasture, was soon to be a thing of the past. Modern ranching methods called for trucking over the long drives in the interest of safety, both to cattle and ranch hands. Needless to say, the congestion on modern highways created problems for both drovers and drivers on the highway.

Dr. George Roseman, Director of the CSUC Audio-Visual Department, an ANCHR member, proposed that ANCHR purchase 8mm film necessary for the filming. ANCHR would receive credit on the finished videotape and have a copy for our collection.

Hardy members of the audio-visual department and students who accompanied the drive did the filming. The audio-visual department did the editing of the large amounts of film, and it was transferred to 16-mm film for a more professional product. This cost was also borne by ANCHR.

The most disappointing outcome from an otherwise excellent cattle drive presentation is that it cannot be used commercially and only for educational purposes. The students and faculty who edited the film dubbed in some very catchy music from popular western performers. They had neglected to get permission, and when it was requested, they were not granted clearance. ANCHR finally closed the door on further efforts, and has shown the film only to members and to school groups. It may be borrowed from either Special Collections or the Audio-Visual library for viewing.

ANCHR in the 1980s

In the 1980s, Ted Meriam’s schedule permitted him to take an active role in the organization he had always supported. His position as former Chico mayor and businessman, in addition to his former role as Chairman of the State College System Board of Trustees, made him a valuable and good friend. The respect that the system had for him shows clearly in their renaming of the LARC Center to the Meriam Library. Ted’s father had been a professor at the Chico Normal School years earlier, and Ted prefers that the public think that the library was named in honor of Prof. Meriam.

Ted Meriam was able to get the written agreement signed by all parties in 1980. However, he could not contemplate or stem the changes coming to the university and the state system as a whole.

In the fall of 1980, Dr. Robin Wilson was appointed president of Chico State University. He was called to administer a rapidly expanding program and growing student body. He had to balance these demands against a less than comparable increase in budget provided by the California legislature.

Understandably, ANCHR was in the stepchild role. Prof. W.H. Hutchinson, ANCHR treasurer and astute critic of the situation, did, on a number of occasions in the privacy of ANCHR Board meetings, suggest that we needed to face the realities---even consider disbanding. He and Ted Meriam tried unsuccessfully to interest the administration in renewing and updating the agreement with ANCHR.

In comment on this period, I point out that ANCHR continues to try to continue to meet, as set out by the founders, as many objectives as possible. We do have meeting space provided in library administrative offices. We have the non-profit status available through our ANCHR Foundation membership.

The Swartzlow Dark Room

One very useful contribution to Special Collections made through ANCHR’s efforts is the Swartzlow professionally equipped dark room.

This $7500 project began with ANCHR as a memorial to a deceased board member. Ruby Swartzlow was a charter member, a historian of considerable renown. She had been President of the Butte County Historical Society, and laid the groundwork for starting a collection of artifacts for a museum. She had taught an adult history class in Paradise for 20 years, and had started the Paradise history journal, "Tales of the Paradise Ridge."

The need had been created by the ever-growing collection of photographs from the seven county service areas. Special Collections had the task of sorting and storing these. They also had agreed to make copies and supply prints to the donors and to borrowers of historic illustrations. Much of the demand came through the Butte County Historical Society.

The Special Collections staff had for some time worked between the third floor of the Meriam Library and the basement audio-visual department. Thus the proposal to give Mrs. Swartzlow a suitable memorial overlapped with continuation of a work to which she had been dedicated.

A fund drive was initiated by ANCHR, supported generously by Mrs. Swartzlow’s friends and family. The dark room was dedicated In April 1984. ANCHR contributed $2,250 to the total raised.

The ANCHR Collection Inventoried

President Ted Meriam asked that we explore with county officials currently in office to ascertain exactly which records in the ANCHR collection might have been copied. This concern came as the bulk of the collection of Butte County Records was to be moved to a college warehouse at Cherry and Second streets.

Lois McDonald was asked to carry out this assignment. She made inquiries of County Assessor Ted Cleveland and Butte County Clerk-Recorder, Candace Grubbs, as to which 19th Century records were on microfilm. To our dismay, though not our surprise, we learned that in 1985 no county records prior to 1910 had been filmed.

The ANCHR Board agreed that a professional survey by a qualified archivist should be contracted for, with the thought in mind that priorities might have to be assigned to the collection. Mary Ellen Bailey of Corning, a qualified archivist with experience in the California State Library, was asked to undertake the survey.

 

Mrs. Bailey viewed the 4th floor collection and agreed to do an annotated listing of the Butte County records for $2,500. She began in April and completed her work in July 1985. Her comprehensive report was presented to the Board in January 1986.

A complete inventory of all ANCHR holdings is not available. Those records housed in Special Collections have been accessioned as a part of that Meriam Library collection. In summary, ANCHR has lost control of these materials.

Mary Ellen Bailey has since become a part-time staff member of Special Collections and has served as President of ANCHR. She is our main liaison with Special Collections.

Bailey’s firm commitment to the preservation of county records found common ground with newly elected Butte County Clerk-Recorder, Candace Grubbs.

The latter was interested in organizing the great mass of records mounting up in the old jail building in Oroville . Bailey and Grubbs met with the idea of working out a plan for Bailey to start the Oroville staff on the task of inventorying. ANCHR allotted $500 toward Bailey’s work in supervising. To this date, shortage of staff and cutback in county budgets has prevented Grubbs from assigning staff to the work.

The aggressive microfilming program that Grubbs has begun and continued for the more recent and more-in-demand records has heartened ANCHR. She has set a budget for this work from funds derived from service fees she may legally charge those who get copies of documents from the recorder’s files.

ANCHR in the 1990s

In spite of the moving of the bulk of ANCHR’s collection to a warehouse, it is still possible to get materials from it. ANCHR provides payment for student help on a part-time basis, and by allowing a few days for finding and transport, a researcher can have volumes brought to Special Collections and held for use in Special Collections.

Microfilming Project

In January 1990, Mary Ellen Bailey, ANCHR President, and William A. Jones, Special Collections Librarian, met with Philip Adair, a microfilmer under contract with the Genealogical Society of Utah. He had obtained permission from the Board of Supervisors to film both records in Oroville and those stored at the University under agreement with ANCHR.

The Probate County and Coroners’ Records had long been folded and tied in packets the size of a legal envelope. It would require much work in preparation to filming, for documents folded tightly for a hundred years were not easily flattened for the camera. The Utah Society pays for this preparation. A number of ANCHR volunteers worked on this task over the 1990 summer months. Payment for hours so donated went toward purchasing a copy of all microfilmed records for Special Collections.

The final cost of the purchased reels was $2,090, of which the volunteers earned $2000.

Records filmed included both some in the warehouse and in Special Collections. Assessors’ records were added to those originally chosen because of their value to family research. These heavy and cumbersome volumes are also deteriorating quite rapidly.

Other 1990s Notes

In 1993, an oral history holding survey was completed for nine of the service counties under direction of Dorothy J. Hill. Though it was found that there has been an accumulation of tapes with local history value in the counties, everywhere staff pleaded being too busy to work on copying and sharing these tapes through one central library.

Professor Michael Magliari of the CSUC History Department established a class in local research in which a requirement is to research every possible source on a name of some early county person or business. This has led to heavy use of ANCHR collected materials, and one outcome was a number of papers on local history. Several of these have been published, having first won the local history contest sponsored by ANCHR.

An added facet of ANCHR publishing came in 1996 when ANCHR spearheaded the facsimile reprint of long-out-of-print 1918 History of Butte County by George Mansfield, former editor/publisher of the Oroville Daily Register. Lois McDonald undertook this effort after making a survey to determine the market. Obviously, it was an expensive project to print some 1400 pages, including over 100 photographs.

 

The original book was published in hard cover. It had no index, and being very heavy, tended to break apart over time. ANCHR chose to include the index prepared in the 1920s through the efforts of the Butte County Librarian. The new version was done in two hardcover volumes, one of history and the second, larger, volume of personal histories. The binding was chosen to match that of the reprint of the 1982 Wells and Chambers History of Butte County, as reprinted through the Butte County Historical Society in 1982. The two volumes of 1918 history are sold in a slipcase bound with the same material as used to bind the books.

Only 250 sets were made, since the price was prohibitive for many. The cost for those buying at pre-publishing price was $96; after publishing, the set sold for $125. Surprisingly, more copies are sold through the Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park’s Visitors Center than any other outlet other than ANCHR. By January 1, 1999, only about 35 sets remained unsold.

Membership in ANCHR dropped when the CSUC Library withdrew courtesy cards. Our original membership has aged. The entire founding group (exception, Ted Meriam) is now deceased; in 1998 both Dr. Margaret Trussell and Dorothy Hill died. ANCHR currently plans an appropriate memorial for its first president, Dorothy J. Hill.

ANCHR

PO Box 3024

Chico, CA 95927-3024

(530) 636-0778

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