by Pete McCormick, Ken Evans & Kendra J.
The Society was organized on November 4, 1971 when 14 "rock hounds" met at the home of Don Meyers in Santa Rosa, CA. to form a group for the purpose of "increasing the knowledge and understanding of the science pertaining to minerals, gems, rocks and similar subjects." Jack Burris was elected President of the new organization.
In the beginning, the general membership meetings were held at the Hilliard Comstock Jr. High School in Santa Rosa. In 1974, the Society was able to establish a large enough workshop and meetings were moved to the intial location in south Santa Rosa. Continuing the same format, Monthly meeting include reports from the society's President, announcements, raffle and informative talks by experts in the field. Members are also invited to report on their own special projects or rockhounding trips. The public has always been welcomed to attend the General Educational meetings.
Right from the start the Society conducted rock collecting field trips, often twice a month. During the first year, some of the field trips were combined with the Johnny Horizon Clean Up campaign in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management. Members spent one day of each outing cleaning up camp sites and roadways, and the next day collecting mineral specimens. Other North Bay mineral and rock societies also took part in this campaign. In the first 6 years, field trips had taken members to the back trails of California from border to border and to all the Western states, as well as Baja, California. Major quests of their trips had been jade, obsidian, petrified wood, agate, jasper, turquoise, opals, carnelian, quartz and tiger eye. One of the fortunate excursions was a private viewing of the Edward R. Swoboda Collection, at Stanford University, where members saw 300 mineral specimens on display.
In 1975 with a workshop located on Hearn Ave, the Society began providing lapidary, faceting, jewelry making, metal casting and rock carving instructions for its members. Members who were experienced craftsmen were the instructors. Adult Classes were held in the evenings, with Saturday mornings dedicated to Juniors (Pebble Pups) classes. Since the start in 1975, hundreds of members have enrolled in these classes with many "graduating" to operating their own equipment for home use.
During its first six years, membership to the Society grew from 14 to 135 members, which included many families. Membership spanned the spectrum of the community and included professionals, labors, homemakers, students and retired persons. By 1977, James W. Fitch, a retired automotive engineer was the president. Annual membership dues in 1977 were: $5.50 for an individual, $12.50 for a family and Juniors $3.00.
On September 24, 1977 the first Mineral and Gem Show was held at the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa. Jack Burris and Ken Gaskins were the Show Co-Chairmen. The Show had working demonstrations, special activities, exhibits, junior member's area as well as a country store. There were fifteen dealers and a wide variety of wares. After a few years the Show was moved across the street to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Sometime between 1985 and 1988, for financial reasons it was moved back to the Veterans Memorial Building where it remained until 2011. From 2012-2016 the Santa Rosa Mineral and Gem Show relocated to the Wells Fargo Center for the Performing Arts, The 2014 Mineral and Gem Show had 41 vendors, demonstrations, displays, classes, auctions and a its first Wild Raffle.
The Society started publishing a monthly bulletin called the GEM-N-I in 1973. It provides news of coming events, educational items and featured articles. For a decade, the early issues were typed and printed on a very old "printing press" . By 1977, the GEM-N-I, had received several awards of excellence. In 2001, with the advances of technology, Ken Evans, newsletter editor, started producing an impressive newsletter on his computer.
By 2007, SRMGS was ready to make some major changes. Kendra, newsletter editor / webmaster, began the transition of the GEM-N-I to digital format in conjunction with the launch of its website www.SRMGS.org. By 2009, printed production stopped as the Society embraced the eco-friendly digital newsletter and joined soical media Facebook and eventually Pintrest. That same year the first Mineralogical Federation Webmaster Competition was heald and our website received its first of several awards of excellence by both the California and American Federation of Mineralogical Societies.
In keeping with the mission of education, SRMGS partnered with the non-profit group 4-H, to educate young people in the field of Geology, Lapidary and Mineralogical studies in the early 2000's. By 2015, SRMGS shifted to making itself available to larger school groups by participating at events such as the Mark West Science Fair, Windsor's Flea on the Green and recently have been asked to teach classes at the Children' Museum in Santa Rosa.
The Santa Rosa Mineral and Gem Society is affiliated with the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and the North Bay Field Trip Chairman's Associations.