History Forum

Browse publications written by local historians, politicians, and superstar community members to dig deep Santa Cruz County History.

Embrace Our Awe-Inspiring Shared Heritage

Preview our 2024 journey with riveting tales of historic preservation! Come along with us as we delve into the saga of the mission to rescue the iconic Del Mar Theatre, appreciate Elkhorn Slough Reserve as the setting for a murder mystery, discover the exceptional vintage paintings of Frank Heath, and walk through the gorgeous open space triumph at history-rich Arana Gulch. We look forward to seeing you all!

2024 Events

History Talks

February 7: Saving the Beloved Del Mar
April 16: Nina Simon's Murder Mystery
June 13: Preserving Art of the Monterey Bay Region

Field Trip

August 24: Unearthing the Secrets of Arana Gulch

Del Mar

History Forum Event: Saving the Beloved Del Mar
February 7th at 4pm MAH

Imagine it is 1936 when the majestic 1510-seat Del Mar opened its doors during the Great Depression, offering true grandeur for a mere 15¢ admission. Gary Parks, a distinguished board member of the Theatre Historical Society of America, unfolds the fascinating narrative of the Del Mar within the broader tapestry of surviving Bay Area Theatres of the era. As the author of Theatres of the San Francisco Peninsula and Theatres of San Jose, Gary will transport us to the golden age of cinema.

Adding to the allure, Sentinel history writer Ross Gibson will share how the community made possible the Del Mar's renaissance. Twenty-five years ago, when the theater faced imminent closure and sale, Ross and the vigilant Friends of the Del Mar orchestrated an extraordinary victory for historic preservation. Guest fee: $20 at event

Click here for more information and to register.

Nina Simon2

History Forum Event: Nina Simon's Murder Mystery
April 16th, 4pm at MAH

What murder mystery is set at Elkhorn Slough?

Nina Simon's debut novel is currently in the spotlight on the national stage as a New York Times bestseller. The former executive director of MAH chose Elkhorn Slough as the atmospheric setting for Mother-Daughter Murder Night. Enjoy an intimate conversation with Nina as she shares the inspiration that led her to set her novel in the first estuarine sanctuary in the United States. Learn what this distinctive location means to her as she reads relevant passages from her book. Plus, we're in for a compelling slide show highlighting the incredible otter recovery at the Slough—a testament to over fifty years of dedicated ecosystem preservation efforts. Guest fee: $20 at event.

Click here for more information and to register.

Traci and painting

History Forum Event: Preserving Art of the Monterey Bay Region
June 13th at 4pm (off-site)

A thrilling Victorian love story is the centerpiece of this talk. Esteemed artists Frank Heath and Lillian Dane Heath shaped the culture of Santa Cruz for generations to come. From their iconic Mount Herman art studio to co-founding the Santa Cruz Art League in 1920, experience their enduring impact on the Santa Cruz arts community. Emerita professor Traci Bliss, acclaimed author of three Santa Cruz history books, reveals the dramatic details of their faith-based lives. Learn about Lillian's poignant gift of Frank's paintings to the Methodist Church and the exceptional stewardship that ensued. Experience the stunning works of both artists first hand followed by a reception in the community room with church members.

Meet at the Church, 250 California Street at 4pm. Guest fee $20 at event.

Click here for more information and to register.

Dan Model

History Forum Field Trip: Unearthing the Secrets of Arana Gulch
August 24th at 10am (off site)

You won't want to miss this exhilarating historical walking tour of Arana Gulch with neighborhood historian Dan Model, an Eastside resident. Dan dives into vibrant narratives, from the first Mexican settlers to the present day, and shares the mystery of the "Ghost of the Gulch". He’ll explore the development of the Small Crafts Harbor with Port Commissioner Reed Geisreiter providing insights about the Harbor operations today. Optional lunch at one of the Harbor's restaurants.

Meet at the corner of Agnes St. and Mentel Ave. at 10am. Be ready for a one-mile, two-hour tour some of which is not suitable for walkers and strollers. Guest fee: $20 at event.

Click here for more information and to register.

Awards night

2024 History Forum Awards Night
November 20th at 4pm (Location TBD)

Join us as we celebrate significant contributions to Santa Cruz County history. Watch this space for additional information and please check out our Dolkas-Mertz Grant. Feel free to share this wonderful opportunity with friends and colleagues. All are encouraged to apply. Click here for application.

2022 Dolkas-Mertz Award
Presented by History Forum in partnership with the MAH, the Dolkas-Mertz Award is a competitive research grant awarded annually for original projects that promote the understanding of the history of the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Area both in the area of intellectual research (publishing: writing/photographic, video, voice) and material structure (objects/buildings). Nominations and applications for the 2022 Dolkas-Mertz Award are now open through October 1, 2022.
Download Application

2024 Highlights

2024 Membership Renewal and Events Calendar

Please join us as we work together to preserve and promote our unique history in a time of rapid change in downtown Santa Cruz. One hundred percent of your dues goes to support MAH's commitment to celebrating our past. More information will be available here in early January. Are you intrigued by our ever-expanding Santa Cruz county history? Become a member of our fun and venturesome group of local history supporters!

Learn How to Submit Your Article

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Click here to download, complete and return membership form.

Since 1994, the MAH has published a printed journal on the history of the Santa Cruz County. These publications bring together local historians, politicians, and superstar community members to dig deep into a certain topics or areas of interest.

To couple those effort the MAH launched the Online History Journal of Santa Cruz County in 2013. This online journal provides everyone with a flexible, ongoing platform for publishing original research on local history. Dive deep into Santa Cruz County history in this ever growing forum and start curating your own.