Hidden Stories Conference Series

Speaker Guire John Cleary with Allen/Light reception guests

Elizabeth Goldstein, CSPF President, addressing the guests at the Light/Freeman reception

The conference series is designed to address the unmet need for discovery, examination and dissemination of various ethnic and national group contributions to parks, the Hidden Stories program addresses diverse groups’ stories through a two-stage process. Each two-year cycle begins with a conference to uncover a group’s history, or stories; the second year will focuses on programmatic initiatives. CSPF’s first conference, in 2009, uncovered African-American contributions to California’s history in state parks. Programmatic follow-up included creation of a Hidden Stories website, and support of a historic museum exhibition following the trail of African American pioneers from Missouri to California on the Overland Trail. The next conference, in 2011, was designed to share the rich history of the many Russian contributions to Fort Ross, Angel Island and other California state parks. Subsequent programmatic follow-up included the creation of an innovative e-book on Russian History in California, along with a special hard-copy version. All conferences serve as a catalyst for discussing concrete ways to build an engaged constituency for state parks, and each two-year cycle provides a prism through which the entire history of California can be understood in a new way.

Download the Russian E-Book


2011 Conference Articles
Russian Naval Vessels Visit Early California

A section of the Ocean Park beach in Santa Monica, California, served as an African American leisure space during the era of segregation. This article identifies the discrimination that African Americans endured, but also celebrates both the local black community formation and the sociable relaxation that Los Angeles African Americans enjoyed at this site.
Download full article (DOC)

Glenn J. Farris, Fort Ross Interpretive Association presented at the Hidden Stories Conference, Presidio of San Francisco, September 22, 2011

2009 Conference Articles
African American Leisure Space in Santa Monica
The Beach Sometimes Known as 'The Inkwell,' 1900s-1960s

A section of the Ocean Park beach in Santa Monica, California, served as an African American leisure space during the era of segregation. This article identifies the discrimination that African Americans endured, but also celebrates both the local black community formation and the sociable relaxation that Los Angeles African Americans enjoyed at this site.
Download full article (PDF)

Alison Rose Jefferson, Southern California Quarterly 91:2 (Summer 2009): 155-189

Collecting Los Angeles

I’m delighted to announce that the Library is about to launch its first project made possible by the recent gift from the Arcadia Fund. “Collecting Los Angeles” will gather, preserve, interpret, and make accessible collections documenting the remarkable multiplicity of cultures and at-risk hidden history of this region.
Read more at the UCLA University Librarian's Blog

Don't let cows trample on L.A.'s history

Czech novelist Milan Kundera wrote that "the struggle of humanity against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." A recent vote in a corner of the San Joaquin Valley threatens to marginalize the memory of a part of America's cultural inheritance: the only state park in California honoring contributions of African Americans. Last month, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead to build two huge dairies within a mile of Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The stench and flies created by nearly 100 daily tons of waste from 16,000 cows will dampen park attendance and jeopardize the state's $8-million investment in the site's restoration.
Read more at LATimes.com

Only the Walls Will Change
Steeped in L.A. history, Second Baptist Church is getting ready for the future.

After years of planning, consultation and fundraising, the Second Baptist Church in the Central Avenue district of Los Angeles is about to begin a $5-million renovation of its sanctuary complex. Designed in 1924 by the renowned architect Paul Williams, the African American church is an official city landmark. Although the work will update the structure, its important historical elements will be retained in the renovation.
Read more at LATimes.com

The Story Behind Black History Month

Now that we have our first African American president, it seems more Americans are interested in what we call black history. During the inauguration, even mainstream news media talked about slaves building the White House. But do Americans know how - and why - Black History Month began?
Read more at TheLoop21.com...

Reprinted with the permission of TheLoop21.com

Charles Young
An early black leader in the green movement

The month of April, when we spotlight environmentalism, culminating on Earth Day, April 22, offers an opportunity to learn about African Americans who have been important caretakers of the planet. One such person is Col. Charles Young, appointed the first black superintendent of a national park in 1903.
Read more at TheLoop21.com...

Reprinted with the permission of TheLoop21.com

2011 - Russian Influences in California’s History

Parks, Work, Play and Civic Engagement
September 22, 2011

California State Parks Foundation’s second Hidden Stories Conference, “Russian Influences in California’s History,” was a rousing success!  Generously supported by grants from the Renova Fort Ross Foundation, the Russkiy Mir Foundation, Chevron, and the Consulate General of the Russian Federation, San Francisco, as well as a valuable partnership with the Fort Ross Interpretive Association, the day was attended by over 150 people from all over California.

The morning began with a panel about Russian trade along the California coast in the early 1800’s: “Sea-Otter Skins, Grain, and Warm Ports: Russia’s Maritime Frontier in Early California.”  Speakers Dr. Ken Owens, Professor Emeritus of History, California State University, Sacramento, Dr. Kent G. Lightfoot, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Glen Farris, Historical Archeologist and Ft. Ross Interpretive Association member, gave a spirited and fascinating account of life in California at the turn of the century, and the very active role Russian sailors and traders played in that life.

Sarah Sweedler, Elizabeth Goldstein, Consul General Vladimir Vinokulov

The next panel focused on immigration: “Russian Immigration: Routes, Arrival and Assimilation.”  Dr. Michael W. Tripp, Professor of Geography, Vancouver Island University, British Columbia, Ms. Maria Sakovich, MPH, MA, Historian and Author, and Ms. Eugenia Bailey, Historian and Russian Émigré, all not only told the story of Angel Island and the Russian community in San Francisco, but also shared personal family history that added perspective and depth to their presentations.

Keynote Speaker
Deputy Director
Vasily Istratov,
Russkiy Mir Foundation
Lunch included talks from Ms. Olga Miller, Director, Renova Fort Ross Foundation, Ms. Sarah Sweedler, President of the Fort Ross Interpretive Association, and our keynote speaker, Vasily Istratov, Deputy CEO of the Russkiy Mir Foundation. All highlighted the importance of parks and bringing “hidden stories” to light.

The last panel of the day focused on recreation: “Russian Scouting in California Parks and Wildlands.”  Panelists Ms. Irene Bogoslovsky, Scoutmaster, St. George Pathfinders, Dr. Anatol Shmelev, Curator, Russian/CIS Collection, Hoover Institute, Stanford University, and Archpriest Alexander Krassovsky, Rector of Sts. Peter and Paul Russian Orthodox Church, not only explained the history and importance of scouting in Russian culture, but also shared personal memories and experiences. 

Director Ruth Coleman,
California State Parks
Conference participants then broke out into four groups to discuss topics as diverse as “Parks and Outreach,” led by Donna Pozzi, Chief of Education and Interpretation, California State Parks, “Historic Preservation,” led by Elizabeth Goldstein, President, CSPF, “Education,” led by Michael Boland, Chief Planning, Projects & Programs Officer, The Presidio Trust, and “Media,” led by Jerry Emory, Director of Communications, CSPF.  Each group reported back out to a plenary session, followed by an inspiring closing speech from Ruth Coleman, Director of the California State Department of Parks and Recreation.

The evening ended with a delightful reception at the Russian Consulate, generously hosted by Mr. Vladimir N. Vinokurov, Consul General of the Russian Federation.  To the sound of live Russian folk music, guests enjoyed cocktails, hors d'oeuvre and animated conversations. CSPF presented Mr. Vinokurov and Ms. Sweedler with gifts to express our appreciation for their unstinting support. A good time was had by all.

Dr. Glenn Farris

CSPF was truly impressed by the passion and enthusiasm shown by all the conference attendees for Russian culture and history in our state parks. As we approach Fort Ross’s 200th anniversary in 2012, we are reminded of the critical role parks play in understanding and appreciating California’s history. The material presented at the conference, along with all the innovative ideas presented at the plenary session, will be gathered and analyzed by CSPF staff and partners to evaluate priorities for moving forward in the future. CSPF has established a “seed money” fund for programmatic initiatives and will be looking to encourage and develop ways to collaborate with community partners and experts to drive an acquisitions and interpretive strategy that fills significant gaps in the story told in the parks system, and beyond. Programmatic initiatives could include projects such as a lecture series, monographs, books and other publications, interpretive programs at specific parks (such as living history), and a wide range of social media innovations.  Other strategies could address media, academia, libraries, schools, etc. Stay tuned for more news from Hidden Stories!

Sara Feldman, Jan Kalicki, Vladimir Vinokoruv, Vasily Istratov,
Olga Miller, Sarah Sweedler, Ruth Coleman, Elizabeth Goldstein


2010 - Allen Light and Richard Freeman

Explorers. Entrepreneurs. Enigmas.
Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Hidden Stories Series continued to grow with our reception in San Diego on September 23, in honor of two early African-American settlers, Allen Light and Richard Freeman.  Light and Freeman co-owned the San Diego House in the 1850s, a single-level saloon and provisions store, now a part of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

The first full day of autumn brought ideal weather for the 70 park supporters and history buffs in attendance. They gathered for wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres at the newly-remodeled outdoor patio of Cosmopolitan Hotel, another historic building in Old Town San Diego. The evening began with Elizabeth Goldstein, CSPF President, who spoke passionately about Proposition 21; followed by State Parks’ Clay Phillips, who discussed the devastating effects of the budget cuts; and continued with Historian Guire John Cleary’s history presentation on Light and Freeman, closing with a tour of Old Town San Diego and the San Diego House.

The reception was an offshoot of our first Hidden Stories Series conference in May 2009 titled: “100 Years Since Allensworth: Is California Living Up to the Legacy?”  The conference focused on African-Americans and their unknown stories in the foundation of the state parks system. Allensworth—the first town established and populated by African-Americans in 1908, near Bakersfield--prompted the first conference and it resulted in this new website, Conference participants expressed the need to have one place where they can go for resources, information, links and articles about the subjects they care about.

Clay Phillips Speaking

2009 - 100 Years of Allensworth

Is California Living Up To The Legacy?
Tuesday, May 4th, 2009

The inaugural conference in the Hidden Stories series, entitled “100 Years Since Allensworth: Is California Living Up To The Legacy?” was a smashing success.  The conference was generously underwritten by lead sponsor Sempra Energy/Southern California Gas Company, as well as Nestle, Northrup Grummond and The National Trust for Historic Preservation.  A heartfelt thank you also goes out to Susan Anderson, curator and the conference’s moderator, for her leadership. Nearly 100 participants attended, mainly from the greater Los Angeles area, but people also came from as far away as San Diego and Oakland.

The morning began with a rousing speech from the President of CSPF, Elizabeth Goldstein.  Two outstanding presentations followed: a panel of three experts discussed the fascinating history of the Gold Rush, and then a second panel talked about recreation and beach culture in Southern California.

Click to Enlarge
Gold Rush Men at Sawblade
Click to Enlarge
People at the Cross, ca. 1925

The Monroe-Gooch Family. Click to enlarge.
The Monroe-Gooch Family

Highlights included the fascinating story of James Beckwourth, explorer extraordinaire; an account of the Monroe-Gooch family of Coloma, from whom Sutter’s Fort and Marshall’s gold discovery site were acquired and in a more modern vein, a great presentation on Bruce’s Beach and the history (and future) of African-American surfers. The audience was extremely engaged, with many questions and comments for the panelists.

Lunch was enlivened by the presence of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who introduced the keynote speaker, the Honorable Willie L. Brown. Mayor Brown riveted the entire group with a mesmerizing account of how Allensworth SHP came into existence and his role in that process.

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The Freedom Affidavit,
1827 Allen Light
Lunch with Willie Brown. Click to Enlarge.
Lunch with the Honorable Willie L. Brown

The afternoon also offered many absorbing stories.  The last panel, focused on San Diego-Old Town and downtown - were a particular focus.  Highlights of this session included the story of Allen Light, a man of many professions, including hunter, explorer, mariner, hotel owner, and holder of a commission from the Mexican government designating him as “principal arbiter of the National Armada, assigned to the branch of Otter Fishing,” and an interesting account of the ultimately successful battle to save historic African-American buildings

The conference then broke into four groups: Media, Education, Parks, and Historic and Cultural Preservation.  Each group was led by an expert in the field who volunteered his or her efforts.  The groups were very engaged and generated many excellent ideas for projects and programs.  The ideas brainstormed in these four groups are currently being studied for future action. The afternoon ended with an excellent speech from Director Ruth Coleman. 

The beautiful new visitors center at Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook served as the venue for that sevening’s reception.  The view was stupendous, with all of Los Angeles spread out around the park.  Excellent jazz music was provided by students from Washington Preparatory High School. 

Ruth Coleman, Director of State Parks,
with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

Many community members attended the reception, which was very generously hosted by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who presented congratulatory scrolls to California Department of Parks and Recreation, CSPF and several others.

A good time was had by all.




Conference generously sponsored by:





Reception generously sponsored by:  

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas,
Los Angeles County, Second District

Photos courtesy of:
California State Parks, © 2009
Security Pacific Collection / Los Angeles Public Library
San Diego Historical Society
Marygrace Lopez, California State Parks Foundation

On October 2 and 3, 2013, CSPF held its third Hidden Stories Series conference at the Center for Healthy Communities at the California Endowment in downtown Los Angeles. Attendees enjoyed interesting speaker panels, walking tours of murals and landmarks, and group discussions about the hidden stories of Latinos in California history.

The 2013 Hidden Stories conference explored Latino history in the context of California’s state parks. The Conference showcased panel discussion and Q&A in three main areas:

1. Narradoras de California (Narrators of California): Women and their Families in Historic Communities
2. Quiere ser mi Vecino (Do You Want to Be My Neighbor): Parks and the Evolution of Historic Latino Neighborhoods
3. Etnicidad, Identidad y Lugar (Ethnicity, Identity and Place): California's Historic Latino Population

A celebratory dinner, featuring Ric Salinas of Culture Clash, was held Wednesday night, at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes museum. Guests enjoyed drinks and a delicious dinner in a striking outdoor setting, as well as great music and dancing.

Conference Agenda

Conference Program


Photo courtesy California State Parks, 2013

2013 Hidden Stories: Panelists

  • José M. Alamillo, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Chicano/a Studies Program, California State University, Channel Islands
    Author of Making Lemonade out of Lemons: Mexican American Labor and Leisure in a California Town, 1880-1960
  • Margie Brown-Coronel, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, History Department, California State University, Fullerton
    Author of Beyond the Rancho: Four Generations of del Valle Women in Southern California, 1830-1930
  • Maria Raquel Casas, Ph.D.
    Professor, History Department, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
    Author of Married to a Daughter of the Land: Interethnic Marriages in California
  • Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
    Author of Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s
  • William Estrada, Ph.D.
    Curator of California and American History, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
    Author of The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space
  • Carlos Salomon, Ph.D.
    Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, California State University, East Bay
    Author of Pio Pico: The Governor of Mexican California
  • Tomás F. Summers Sandoval, Jr., Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, History and Chicano/a Studies, Pomona College
    Author of Latinos at the Golden Gate
  • Raul Villa, Ph.D. Professor, English and Comparative Literary Studies, Occidental College
    Author of Barrio-Logos: Space and Place in Urban Chicano Literature and Culture
  • Fabian Wagmister, MFA
    Vice-Chair & Program Head, Production and Editing, Department of Film, TV & Digital Media, UCLA

2013 Hidden Stories: Keynote Speakers

  • Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret)
    Director, California State Parks
  • Estevan Rael-Gálvez, Ph.D.
    Senior Vice President of Historic Sites, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Elizabeth Goldstein
    President of the California State Parks Foundation
  • Ric Salinas
    Member of Culture Clash
    Ric will present a behind-the-scene look at the genesis and formation of the play “Chavez Ravine” at the event’s celebratory dinner.
  • Gustavo Herrera, Chief Operating Officer
    LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

2013 Hidden Stories: Honorary Committee

  • José M. Alamillo, Associate Professor and Coordinator of Chicana/o Studies Program at CSU, Channel Islands
  • Isabel Allende, Author
  • Ken Bernstein, AICP, Manager, City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources at the Department of City Planning, City of Los Angeles
  • Albert M. Camarillo, Professor of History at Stanford University
  • Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, PhD, Associate Professor, Chair of Chicana/o Studies Program at UC Davis
  • William Deverell, Chair of History Department at USC
  • Raquel F. Donoso, CEO of Latino Community Foundation
  • Former Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes
  • Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • State Assemblymember Mike Gato
  • State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez
  • Stephanie George, Archivist, Center for Oral and Public History at California State University, Fullerton
  • Antonio Gonzalez, President of WCVI
  • Ruben Guerra, Chairman of Latin Business Association
  • Lisbeth Haas, Professor of History and Chair of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Cruz
  • Anthea M. Hartig, PhD, Executive Director of California Historical Society
  • Judithe Hernandez, Visual Artist and Board of Directors of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles
  • Sandra R. Hernández, M.D., CEO of The San Francisco Foundation
  • Luis Hoyos, Associate Professor of Architecture at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
  • Jarrell C. Jackman, PhD, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
  • State Senator Ricardo Lara
  • Gregorio Luke, Executive Director of ARCOS
  • L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina
  • Douglas Monroy, Professor of History at Colorado College
  • Irma R. Muñoz, President/CEO of Mujeres de la Tierra
  • Enrique G. Murillo, Jr. Ph.D., Executive Director of Latino Education & Advocacy Days
  • Chon Noriega, Director and Professor at UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
  • Alexandra Puerto, Associate Professor at Occidental College
  • Armando Quintero, Director of Development, Sierra Nevada Research Institute, UC Merced
  • Raymond Rast, Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Fullerton
  • Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard
  • Vicki Ruiz, Professor at UC Irvine
  • Gary Soto, Poet
  • Belinda Valles Faustinos, Co-Chair of National Park Service Latino History project
  • Marcos Vargas, PhD, Executive Director of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
  • Antonio R. Villaraigosa
  • Fabian Wagmister, Professor and Vice Chair and Head of Production Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at UCLA
  • Devra Weber, Associate Professor of History at UC Riverside
  • State Parks & Recreation Commissioner Elva Yanez
  • Jose Zapata Calderon, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College


Miroslava Chavez-Garcia, Maria Raquel Casas, Vickie Ruiz and Margie Brown-Coronel

Hidden Stories 2013

Elva Yanez, Nancy Mendez, Chris Morris, Patricia Perez and Elizabeth Goldstein

General Anthony Jackson

Hidden Stories 2013

Michael Hanrahan, SueEllen Cheng, Robert Garcia and Elizabeth Goldstein

Tomas Summers-Sandoval, Jose Alamillo and Fabian Wagmister

Hidden Stories 2013

Questions from the audience

Sara Feldman, Estaban Rael-Galvez and Elizabeth Goldstein

Hidden Stories 2013

Dr. Rael-Galvez speaks with conference attendees after his speech.

Fabian Wagmister, Raul Villa and William Estrada

Hidden Stories 2013

Rick Salinas performing at dinner

View more photos from this event on our Flickr account


Estevan Rael-Galvez

Dr. Rael-Gálvez is responsible for leading the strategic direction across the portfolio of National Trust Historic Sites. Prior to joining the National Trust, Dr. Rael-Gálvez served as the executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the largest Latino cultural center in the nation, with executive oversight of a 51-acre campus, including a Performing Arts Center, Art Museum, Library-Archive, and an award-winning Educational Department. Dr. Rael-Gálvez also served nearly a decade as the State Historian of New Mexico and Chairman of the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee, the governor-appointed board that establishes preservation policy for the State of New Mexico. He holds a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Michigan and is a native son of New Mexico, with ancestral connections to both Hispano and indigenous communities.

Upload Music Files - Download Audio - Keynote - Estevan Rael-Galvez

Elizabeth GoldsteinElizabeth Goldstein joined the California State Parks Foundation (CSPF) as President in June 2004. A life-long advocate for parks, Elizabeth has 25-plus years experience working specifically in support of parks and historic preservation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was general manager of the City and County of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department. Elizabeth also served as regional director of the New York City region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and as director of planning for the City of New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation. A resident of San Francisco, Elizabeth is co-chair of the City Parks Alliance, a board member of the Geneva Office Building Restoration Project, the Stern Grove Festival Association and the California League of Parks Associations, former board member of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, and an honorary member of the New York State American Institute of Architects. She graduated as valedictorian from Beloit College.

Embed Music Files - Download Audio - Keynote - Elizabeth Goldstein

Hidden Stories conference sponsored in part by:

SoCal Gas Company   

Danny and Myrna Villanueva, The Villanueva Companies

The Hoefer Family Foundation

Fiesta De Reyes

In-kind Donations By:

Anchor Steam