Gallery of Field Trip Photos
Here are some photos from past Researchers Anonymous field trips.
History of Researchers Anonymous
by Stanley D. Stevens, December 2018
On October 9th, 1993 the Inaugural Meeting of Researchers Anonymous took place at the McPherson Center for Art and History, in Santa Cruz, California. It was sponsored by the Santa Cruz County Historical Trust (now part of MAH). About fourteen participants* gathered at the invitation of Rachel McKay, Collections Manager/Archivist for the Trust at the time. She and the staff of the Trust activated the following proposal that I had written on April 25, 1991:
Definition: An independent association of individuals, representing only themselves, who are dedicated to sharing historical information with each other, their areas of current research, and their knowledge of sources of information.
The Purpose: To promote the compilation and writing of Santa Cruz County history. To coordinate, where appropriate, the research of members so that needless duplication will be avoided. To cooperate with each other by sharing material and information when that sharing will promote these goals.
The Scope: While the focus is on Santa Cruz County, the impact of people and events of adjoining counties will be included as appropriate.
Obligations: There is no membership fee, but there are a few obligations:
You must ask questions if you have a need to know.
You must answer questions if you know.
You must agree to take your turn as convener of the meeting.
You must agree to be a good listener, participate when your turn comes, and never lose an opportunity to hear a colleague's comment— regardless of how elementary the comment or inquiry. Remember, we are dedicated to helping each other.
You must agree to consider any proposed changes to these functional guidelines.
Criteria for Membership: [one of the following]
An active researcher on some aspect of the history of Santa Cruz County, or any part thereof.
A published author within the last ten years.
A librarian or archivist who specializes in local history in a public service capacity.
Concept: Conceived as a low-load, no risk opportunity for active researchers, archivists/librarians, and writers of local history to meet socially, to exchange information, and to keep abreast of each other's research subjects and projects.
Pick A Name, Or Create A Name:
Consortium for Historical Information Exchange
Historical Information Forum
Historical Research Associates
The Historical Research Society of the Monterey Bay Area
Emanating from these suggestions Researchers Anonymous was the name chosen. It represents the proposition that most of the attendees are "addicted" to researching some aspect of Santa Cruz County history. Most researchers share their current inquiries in order to elicit from others new sources of relevance. These exchanges help colleagues in the pursuit of accuracy in the articles, books, and contributions they make when relating the history of events, people, and places, from the Mission period to the modern era.
Researchers Anonymous continues to meet almost every month, following the principles outlined above. There is no formal membership requirement; anyone with an interest in Santa Cruz County history may attend and participate.
Meetings alternate among round-table discussions, presentations and tours. Almost every local facility that has an archive of Santa Cruz history material has been visited. A complete list of RA meetings is at: https://researchersanonymous.weebly.com/past-events.html .
From 1993 to 2011 Rachel McKay and later Amy Dunning coordinated the program and in the early years Rachel published a newsletter for regular participants. In 2011, after eighteen years of continuous, varied programs, Researchers Anonymous was faced with dissolution. MAH was in financial difficulty and indicated that Researchers Anonymous could no longer be supported. Participants at a September 2011th meeting decided to continue its meetings with volunteers running the program in lieu of staff. Executive Director Nina Simon agreed to this proposal and offered continued use of MAH. In 2021 Director Robb Woulfe continued this policy but made it clear that there are no plans to resume staff support and that it is not a program of MAH.
*Inaugural Meeting Attendance
In addition to myself — researching F. A. Hihn; and the convener Rachel McKay:
Sara Bunnett † — Probate Records & the Court of Sessions Minutes, 1850-1863.
Donald T. Clark † — author of Santa Cruz County (& Monterey County) Place Names.
Leonard Greenberg † — indexing W. W. Elliott's History of Santa Cruz County.
Rick Hamman † — researching Railroads & Gold & Silver mining in Santa Cruz Co.
Anthony Kirk — researching Monterey Bay & California artists
Betty Lewis † — revising her book on Holy City
Jerry Ochoa & Regina Ochoa — researching the Santa Cruz Fire Dept. 1857-
Alverda Orlando — compiling the history of Davenport
Marion Pokriots — researching the Dent family
Ron Powell † — researching the history of the Soquel Augmentation Rancho.
Alzora Snyder † — Archivist of Pajaro Valley Historical Association since 1965
(† = now deceased)