(949) 631-5918 Thursday - Friday 10am - 3pm
Fred McDowell on World War I
Fred McDowell poses in front of period rifles

Fred McDowell on World War I

Join us 
2 p.m. Sunday, November 18 as Fred McDowell, Costa Mesa Fire Captain, helps us commemorate the  “War to End All Wars.” In a presentation featuring authentic military artifacts, costumed re-enactors, and a slide presentation, McDowell will discuss America’s largest battle (the Meuse-Argonne Offensive), the “The Lost Battalion,” and Sgt. Rochester, the young Costa Mesan who tragically lost his life in that battle. You won’t want to miss this!

Click here to read the full brochure.

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The World War I Diary of George Vincent Fox
George Vincent Fox's dog tag from World War I.

The World War I Diary of George Vincent Fox

One of the treasures of the historical society’s collection is the daily diary kept by George Vincent Fox, an artilleryman in World War I. Fox documents his journey across the Atlantic, his time on the front lines, and his postwar duty as peacekeeper. Although the prose is sparse and matter-of-fact, it vividly captures both the thrill and the tedium of war and peace.

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The Society Shuffle
Items in storage boxes are checked against catalog records in the Society’s PastPerfect database.

The Society Shuffle

No, it wasn’t a two-step dance and it certainly wasn’t a cakewalk. But this Society Shuffle was performed at the Historical Society’s downtown museum September 22-26. Under the direction of Archivist Mary Ellen Goddard, the Historical Society’s storage area for collection items was cleared out, cleaned, and boxes re-shelved after checking their numerical order. This was a major effort, preparing the Historical Society for reviewing collection holdings and making space for new items. The photos tell the story.

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Do You Love Working with Old Photos?

We’re looking for volunteers to assist us in the preservation of our local history. Do you like old photographs? Do you enjoy seeing them come back to life? We need your passion and your skills!

Photo preservation and restoration is a key part of the Costa Mesa Historical Society’s mission. If you would like to learn more about this fun and gratifying volunteer opportunity, give us a call at 949-631-5918 or drop us a line. Thanks for your help!

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Society Elections November 18th
Historical Society Museum

Society Elections November 18th

The Costa Mesa Historical Society elections will take place at the beginning of the Sunday Speaker Program on November 18th. The slate of current candidates will be presented at the meeting. Nominations from the floor will be accepted at that time. The election will take place in public and anyone can nominate someone from the floor. The positions open for nomination are: President, 1st Vice-President of Programs, 2nd Vice President of Membership, Secretary, Treasurer and Board Director.

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Remembering 2018’s Concerts in the Park

As the days get shorter and the air gets cooler, we remember the fun we had last summer. Thank you, Estelle Hughes, Jean Nomura, and Augustin Espinoza for manning the booth this year at the Concerts in the Park. From a booth decorated with large historic photos of Costa Mesa, the volunteers handed out candy, sold memorabilia, and promoted the society, all while benefiting the Costa Mesa Foundation.

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Three Generations Tour Museum
Jeani Hibbard, Katie Hibbard, and Bonnie Murray tour the Hull Story boatbuilding exhibit.

Three Generations Tour Museum

Three generations of special women toured the society’s boatbuilding exhibit in September: Jeani Hibbard,  Katie Hibbard, and Bonnie Murray.

Bonnie Murray’s husband Arland “Buzz” Murray was a key player in the Costa Mesa boatbuilding industry. Together he and Mel Potter built Mel-Craft dinghies and sabots. The family posed for a photo next to a model of one of Mel-Craft’s most popular crafts, a 12-foot sailing pram.

A fun bonus came when Mary Ellen Goddard helped find a picture of Bonnie’s sister in the society’s archives!

Boatbuilding played a significant role in Costa Mesa’s postwar industry. Plan a visit to the society museum and explore this fascinating history yourself

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The Edrick Miller Collection

This is the first of a continuing series that will take a peek inside the society’s rich archives. At any given moment, only a small fraction of the collection can be displayed. The rest, however, is of interest both to the researcher and the layperson alike. This month we look at the important Edrick Miller Collection.

Who donated the collection?

Edrick Miller is a retired city employee, aerospace worker, and army lieutenant from Tustin, California. Miller wrote three books: A Slice of Orange, The Hayburners of Orange County, and The SAAAB StoryA Slice of Orange is to this day considered the definitive history of Costa Mesa. Miller served as a director of the Costa Mesa Historical Society and the Costa Mesa Bicentennial Committee. In recognition of his contributions to the understanding of Costa Mesa history, he received the society’s Living Memorial Award in 1982.

What’s inside the collection?

The bulk of the sprawling collection consists of research materials for Ed Miller’s three books. As such, the collection provides an essential resource for those interested in early Costa Mesa, Orange County transportation, and the Santa Ana Army Air Base history. The collection comprises newspaper clippings, city reports, property development records, oral histories, manuscripts, maps, and some 5,000 photos. Collectors of coffee and spice cans will also be interested in his Ben Hur Memorabilia Check List and other assorted artifacts.

When was the collection donated?

The collection’s first major accession occurred around 1980, with additions being made to the present day.

Where do I find the Edrick Miller collection?

The collection can be found at the Costa Mesa Historical Society Museum. The museum can be visited every Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or by appointment. A volunteer or the archivist will be happy to help you research the collection.

Why is the collection important?

Miller’s books on Orange County and Costa Mesa in particular remain landmark histories 40 years after publication. His works are lauded for their thoroughness and accuracy. There are few topics Miller did not cover. A researcher can use Miller’s original sources and unpublished supporting documents as a springboard for further research. Above all, Miller’s vast photo collection, which form the core of the society’s collection, offers a rare and vital glimpse into the past.

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