The recent 37th annual history conference celebrated local history and those who work to record and preserve it. Founded in 1964, the Congress of History brings together representatives of all the historical societies, groups, museums and historical archives in San Diego and Imperial counties.
"Unity and Joint Effort" is the group's motto. Meetings are moved to different locations and are often conducted in the museums of member organizations.
Meetings are announced in Adelante, the group's newsletter. Family memberships are $15. Individual and organization memberships are $12. People interested in joining may mail a check or money order payable to Congress of History, c/o Helen Halmay, P.O. Box 1346, Lemon Grove, CA 91946.
Imperial Valley College philosophy Professor Richard Hann is the president of the organization. His wife, Carol Hann, an IVC English instructor, is an acknowledged expert on the history of the Salton Sea.
Jack Simes, an analyst with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in Yuma, will speak on "The River We Know" at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Pioneers' Museum across from IVC.
Carol Hann will be giving her talk, "A Contemporary History of the Salton Sea," at 6:30 p.m. March 22 at the museum. Bill Swan, a renowned water attorney and consultant for the Imperial Irrigation District, spoke on "The Law of the River."
Hann will repeat her talk at the downtown San Diego Public Library at 6:30 p.m. April 25. She has been active in helping plan the seminars to be presented in seven states in March and April.
According to Nancy Dallett, director of the seven-state project, "By focusing on the river, we can see much that is distinctive about western history and, just the same, much that is shaping the future of the West. In the 19th century the river determined settlement patterns in the region, and people accommodated themselves to the water. Then, during the first half of the 20th century, dams and diversions plumbed the river to support economics of extraction, like mining and agriculture.
"By the end of the century, 30 million people, most living in distant urban centers, had come to rely on the river, and most western issues … can be traced to the Colorado River … the future of the West is tied to the river."