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Dolkas-Mertz and Distinguished Historian Awards

The History Forum, an auxiliary of the MAH, promotes a deep understanding of local history and presents two awards annually for distinguished service to local history. This page describes these awards and presents the application and nomination material for them.

  1. The Dolkas-Mertz Award is a competitive research grant awarded annually for original projects that promote the understanding of the history of the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay Area both in the area of intellectual research (publishing: writing/photographic, video, voice) and material structure (objects/buildings).
  2. The Distinguished Historian award is an honor bestowed on a person annually who has made unique contributions to Santa Cruz County history. This award is open to historians, educators, archivists, and enthusiasts who are passionate about local history.

Dolkas-Mertz Award Grant Criteria and Application Process

The Dolkas Award was established in honor of James Dolkas, the founder and original president of the History Forum. Members of the History Forum and the Sesnon Foundation set up the James Dolkas Memorial Fund through the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and offer the grant annually to a worthy project that will advance community awareness about regional history. In 2017, the award was renamed the Dolkas-Mertz award after Karl Mertz, founding member of the History Forum.

Each proposal should meet and address one or more of the following criteria:

  • What is the direct and enduring benefit to the Santa Cruz /Monterey Bay community?
  • How is the proposal a local community partnership of people and resources?
  • Does this project have any new audiences or participants, technologies, or ideas?

To apply, please complete the 2017 Dolkas-Mertz Application. Applicants may attach additional pages as needed; the narrative should not exceed five hundred words. Applications are due by September 1, 2017. The application includes grant guidelines for preparing application budget, narrative, and outcome descriptions.

Dolkas-Mertz Application-2017

One award of $2,000 will be given each year, with half given in November of 2017 and half given at the completion of the project. Awards are presented each year at the History Forum Annual Dinner in November. Applicants must be able to attend the dinner to receive the award. The 2017 Dinner is scheduled for November 15, 2017.


Distinguished Historian Criteria and Nomination Process

The Distinguished Historian award is an honorary title bestowed annually on a person who has done extraordinary work to advance local history.

To nominate someone to be considered for this award, please send your nomination to Marla Novo by email or by mail at 705 Front St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060. You may nominate yourself. Only one nomination is required per applicant. Nominations are due by September 1, 2017.

Include your name and email. Name of person nominated and answer the following questions:

-What makes this this nominee truly distinguished? (250 words or less)

-How does their work relate to Santa Cruz County history? (100 words or less)

-Please provide compelling examples of how this person has consistently promoted the love and appreciate of local history. (250 words or less)

-Please provide compelling examples of how this person has made unique contributions related to Santa Cruz County history (ex: publication, preservation, documenting, sharing and promotion). (250 words or less)

This award is honorary only. Awards are presented each year at the History Forum Annual Dinner in November. Nominees must be able to attend the dinner to receive the award. The 2017 Dinner is scheduled for November 15, 2017.

Past Dolkas Award Awardees


  • George J. Fogelson for  Between the Redwoods and the Bay: The Jewish Community of Santa Cruz, California


  • Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County’s Trailblazers Oral History Project



  • Randall Brown for his research on Josephine Clifford McCrackin


  • Alverda Orlando for documentary work on North Coast farmers
  • Nicholas Barron for research on systematic bias in federal recognition of Native American groups in the Monterey Bay region


  • Maureen Davidson for her research on the history of murals throughout Santa Cruz County


  • Barry Brown for his work on the California Powder Works, Santa Cruz County, 1861-1914


  • Lucia MacLean for her project to preserve and distribute the history of the Alba School and Recreation District in Ben Lomond
  • George Fogelson for his continued study of the History of Jews of Santa Cruz County with new research on the Alexander Family of Watsonville


  • Philip Reader for History of African Americans in Santa Cruz County
  • Alverda Orlando for Davenport History Website


  • Melissa Stevens for An Oral History of Monterey Bay Fishermen, Part I


  • Dr. Julianne Burton-Carvajal for a guide to Monterey Bay Adobes
  • Robert Edwards and Charr Simpson Smith for archeological work at the Redman-Hiraharra House, Watsonville


  • George J. Fogelson for The History of the Jews in Santa Cruz County, 1855-present


  • Barry Brown for California Powder Works, 1864-1914


  • Colleen Mclnerney-Meagher for The Story of Pogonip

Each year the History Forum at MAH selects a “Distinguished Historian.”  Originally titled “Historian of the Year,” it is given to people who have made important contributions to local history.
Historian of the Year
2000 Stan Stevens
2001 Alverda Orlando
2002 Frank Perry
2003 Rachel McKay
2004 Norm Lezin
2005 Judy Steen
2006 Jane Borg
2007 Bob Piwarzyk
2008 Betty Lewis
2009 Joan Gilbert Martin
2010 Marion Pokriots
2011 Soquel Pioneer and Historical Association 
(group award for publication of Images of America: Soquel)
Distinguished Historian
2016 George Ow, Jr.
2015 Geoffrey Dunn
2014 Phil Reader
2011 Jan Borg (Lifetime Achievement Award)
2012 Sandy Lydon
2013 Norman and Kathleen Poitevin
2013  Carolyn Swift (Lifetime Achievement Award)