For the last 53 years, the Museum of Ventura County published The Quarterly, a historic journal highlighting significant figures, happenings and landmarks of the county’s past. Recently, the museum teamed up with Moorpark College to form the newly renamed Journal of Ventura County History. The premier issue was just released with new editor Patty Colman, assistant professor of history at Moorpark College, heading the publication. The transition was bittersweet for the museum’s librarian, Charles Johnson, who had been editor and designer for the publication since 1990.
Currently, the museum is expanding, and so are Johnson’s responsibilities. “I wanted to keep [the journal] going in such a way that it was do-able,” he said. His added responsibilities, however, did not permit him to continue as sole editor of a historic journal.
To find an alternative means to keep the publication going, Johnson sent out questionnaires to California historic societies in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego to see how they operate their journals.
“What I got back from three of the four was that they had established a relationship with a nearby college institution. They were utilizing student help,” Johnson said.
“I started thinking about joining up with a nearby institution. I heard Patty speak; she was well spoken and really interested in history. I was really impressed with her.”
Johnson presented the possibility to Colman about becoming the new editor. Once Colman accepted, the museum and the board contacted Moorpark College, and they came to an agreement on who would be responsible for what.
The Quarterly was then transformed into the Journal of Ventura County History, to be published twice a year rather than four. This enables Colman to link the journals up with her History 80 internship course being offered each semester at Moorpark College.
Colman utilized students from her History 80 class last semester to do research for the first issue. Eventually, the students will be researching, editing and designing for journal issues in the future.
Both Johnson and Colman felt the premiere issue went very well. It is authored by historian Cherie Brant and offers incredible bird’s-eye view lithographs of Ventura in the 19th century. Brant, along with those who authored The Quarterly in the past, worked on a voluntary basis, and will continue doing so for the Journal.
“I was extremely fortunate because I always found people who wanted to write,” Johnson said. Articles for The Quarterly came about in one of two ways: Either authors came to Johnson and pitched ideas, or he approached those who were researching a topic in the museum’s library he felt were journal-worthy.
Johnson said he would like to see Colman evolve as an editor in the same way he did. He will continue to be involved as chair of a committee of museum and college representatives overseeing the publication, but his new role will be one of support to Colman and her students.
It was clear after talking with Johnson that this publication means a great deal to him. He came into his position as editor with no background in design. He is leaving with dozens of Quarterly issues showing his skill as a designer along with his dedication to the history of Ventura County.
“It was never a problem. I always loved doing [the publication] and I had fun,” Johnson said. Stepping down as editor of the publication was a tough, but well thought-out decision that Johnson made.
Johnson envisions future issues with Colman as editor and her students as researchers will “continue to evolve, have new subjects, and hopefully make people want to become members of the museum.” Membership to the museum provides a subscription to the Journal and allows residents to stay connected to their county’s past.
Both Colman and Johnson see the collaboration as a gateway of opportunity for Moorpark College students interested in history. The new publication encourages Colman’s History 80 students to pitch ideas, become researchers and get a grasp on how a historic journal is completed. The partnership is allowing these younger history students to become more involved in the county and play a significant role in the Journal.