What were you doing in 1975…1985…1995?
Since California Humanities first opened its doors in 1975, we have sought to encourage people to:
- learn more about the complex history of our state and all its peoples
- to gain greater understanding of our individual and collective experiences
- to think about the values, dreams, and aspirations we share so that we can work to create the California we want to see in the future.
This has been and remains at the forefront of our vision of what the humanities should be and can do – connect us all through the human experience.
When we celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2015, we decided it was a good time to take stock of what California Humanities and our partners have accomplished over the past four decades. Organized chronologically by 10-year intervals pegged to milestone events in the wider world, this timeline is supplemented by short stories and illustrative materials related to key programs, projects, and people who have made outstanding contributions to our mission. As you will see, our history reflects our deep commitment to the core values of the humanities while striving for innovation, relevance, and responsiveness to an ever-changing world.
Over time, we will be adding more material and new information to this site. If you are a past grantee, project partner, or program participant, consider sharing your experiences with us here – we’d love to hear from you. We hope you will enjoy this brief excursion through our past and that you’ll join us as we write the next chapter of California Humanities’ story.
President & CEO
Credits: This timeline was developed by California Humanities staff with support from two University of California Public Fellows, Sarah Papazoglakis (UC Santa Cruz, Literature) and Cherish Asha Bolton (UC Irvine, History.) We appreciate the contributions made by other staff members, former and current, and the generosity of all those who shared their stories and impressions with us.
Widespread community and academic interest in enlarging the California “story” to incorporate the experiences of those whose voices and viewpoints had been marginalized or obscured led us to continue our focus on narrative.
New funding streams enabled the expansion of the California Documentary Project, the California Story Fund (renamed Community Stories), and supported special projects designed to engage young people: Youth Digital Filmmakers and How I See It: My Place. Recognition of the crucial role the humanities can play in bridging social, cultural, and economic differences, and in providing people with tools to support civic participation through dialogue and discussion of ideas and issues, led to the development of a dialogue-based program for libraries, Now We’re Talking. Searching for Democracy, our third multiplatform initiative, supported discussions, forums, film screenings, and story-sharing projects across the state in the lead-up to the 2012 national election cycle. In 2014, in recognition of the need to help support the reintegration of veterans of recent, as well as past conflicts into California communities, we launched War Comes Home. The project reached millions of Californians throughout the state through a statewide read and related library-based programs, a traveling exhibit of letters written by veterans, and a wide range of locally-initiated story-sharing projects that incorporated oral history, storytelling, performance, and digital media that illuminated the many dimensions of the veteran experience. Over the course of the decade, we and our partners garnered an impressive list of awards and recognition.