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Table of contents What's This?
  • Scope and Contents
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Separated Materials
  • Related Materials

  • Contributing Institution: California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections
    Title: Jan Dennis Papers
    Creator: Dennis, Jan
    source: City of Manhattan Beach City Council
    Identifier/Call Number: SPC.2020.025
    Physical Description: 39 boxes
    Physical Description: 39 Linear Feet (37 record storage cartons; 2 document cases; one oversized poster)
    Date (inclusive): 1958-2021
    Date (bulk): 1985-2019
    Abstract: This collection contains material collected and authored by Jan Dennis regarding Manhattan Beach local politics and history. The majority of this collection contains Manhattan Beach City Council meeting minutes, agendas, memorandums, staff reports, and resolutions; and clippings, reports, flyers, brochures, and other documents regarding various events, locations, groups, and programs located in Manhattan Beach. Also included in this collection are clippings, reports, and other documents related to Manhattan Beach Unified School District; as well as a few booklets, reports, and other material related to education and South Bay Union High School District. Lastly, this collection contains copies of Jan Dennis' published works, such as "A Walk Beside the Sea", "Shadows on the Dunes"; "Manhattan Beach Fire Department"; and others.
    Language of Material: English .

    Scope and Contents

    The Jan Dennis Papers (1977-2020; bulk 1985-2019) contains 28 boxes and 28 linear feet of material collected and authored by Jan Dennis regarding Manhattan Beach local politics and history. The majority of this collection contains staff reports, and meeting minutes and agendas from the City of Manhattan Beach city council; and clippings related to various events, locations, groups, and programs in Manhattan Beach. Also included in this collection are copies of some of Dennis' published works on Manhattan Beach, and material related to Manhattan Beach Unified School District. Series I: City of Manhattan Beach is comprised of three subseries and includes: City of Manhattan Beach City Council Meeting minutes, memorandums, agendas, and staff reports; documents related to budgets, resolutions, ordinances; and other material. Series II: Reference Materials contains clippings, reports, brochures, memorandums, newsletters, Manhattan Beach General Plans, and other material related to various events, buildings, programs, establishments, and groups located in Manhattan Beach. Series III: Manhattan Beach Unified School District and Education Material contains documents and clippings related to Manhattan Beach Unified School District including documents related to Mira Costa High School and the district budget; as well as documents related to the South Bay Union High School District, Community Health Education Project and Child Safety/Abuse Prevention Program, and other educational reports, clippings, articles, and booklets. Series IV: Published Material contains books written or co-authored by Jan Dennis on topics related to Manhattan Beach and includes copies of "A Walk Beside the Sea"; "Shadows on the Dunes"; "Skirts Across the Sand", and others.


    Janet DeNike Dennis was raised and educated in the small New England town of Ridgefield, Connecticut. After graduating from Ridgefield High School, she attended Art Career School in New York City, which led to her initial work in newspaper advertising for JC Penney. Jan then segued into the graphic arts department of the publishing house, YEAR Inc., where she worked on the production of pictorial books and current event magazines.
    In 1957, Jan and her husband, Stan, created Janstan Studio while living in Santa Monica, CA. Janstan Studio is a graphic arts business that Jan continues to operate. Two years later, the Dennis' moved to Manhattan Beach, CA., where Jan developed a rich passion for the town and its history. While raising their two children, Jan became actively involved in the community, volunteering for nearly every non-profit organization in Manhattan Beach including the local head start program, which eventually lead to her becoming the head of the Mira Costa PTA.
    After serving on the Planning Commission, Jan was elected to the 1984 Manhattan Beach City Council, where she served as the second female mayor in the city's history from 1986-1987 and was also the president of the Chamber of Commerce. As she became more involved in the community, Jan found that her adopted hometown was filled with a fascinating history and realized there was a need to explore its heritage. She began researching the town and its citizens and shared what she learned in numerous magazine articles and nine books that were dedicated to the residents of Manhattan Beach. Her collection of materials is unparalleled in scope and has proven to be an invaluable resource for the community.
    Jan has written nine books on Manhattan Beach as of 2020. Her first book, "A Walk Beside the Sea: A History of Manhattan Beach," was published in 1987; followed by "Shadows on the Dunes: An Architectural History of Manhattan Beach" (2001); "Manhattan Beach" (2001); "Manhattan Beach Police Department" (2003); "Manhattan Beach Pier" (2005); "Skirts Across the Sand: A History of Manhattan Beach Women" (2008); "Manhattan Beach Chronicles" (2012); "A Thread in the Tapestry: A History of Sepulveda Blvd. in Manhattan Beach" (2017); and "The History of the Manhattan Beach Fire Department" (2019). In 2006 she started the Manhattan Beach Heritage Conservancy to "recognize, preserve, and revitalize the historic architectural and cultural resources of Manhattan Beach" ("Manhattan Beach historical conservancy comes into 21st century"). Dennis is also a member of the Neptunian Woman's Club of Manhattan Beach, and the local historical society.
    Jan has also been recognized with numerous awards including many Community Service Awards, Outstanding Service Award and Distinguished Service Award for the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce, Medal of Valor Service Award, I Love MB City Council Commendation Service Award, the Lion's Club International's Citizen of the Year, Manhattan Beach Chamber's Rose and Scroll Award, El Camino College Distinguished Woman Award, and the 2013 Woman Of Distinction Award for California Assembly District 66. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the City of Manhattan Beach, and in 2017 she received the Bob Meistrell Local Legend Award.
    Sources: "Manhattan Beach : Dennis Becomes Mayor". 4 Sept. 1986, www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1986-09-04-cb-13902-story.html
    "About Jan Dennis." Jan Dennis - Manhattan Beach Historian, www.janstanstudio.com/jan-dennis-manhattan-beach-about.html
    "Jan Dennis." Southbay, 9 Nov. 2017, southbay.goldenstate.is/jan-dennis/
    "Manhattan Beach Historical Conservancy Comes into 21st Century." Easy Reader News, 30 Apr. 2016, easyreadernews.com/manhattan-beach-historical-conservancy-comes-21st-century/
    Dailybreeze. "Former Mayor Jan Dennis Fell into Role as Manhattan Beach Historian." Daily Breeze, Daily Breeze, 6 Sept. 2017, www.dailybreeze.com/2012/12/15/former-mayor-jan-dennis-fell-into-role-as-manhattan-beach-historian/
    "Jan Dennis Biography", Kristin Long, 2020.
    "Community Service History", Kristin Long, 2020.

    Community Service History

    1966-1967 Head Start Program volunteer
    1968-1972 Member of the Woman's Auxiliary for the Manhattan Beach Little League
    1968-1985 International Student Service Host Family
    1968-1993 Member of the Chamber of Commerce
    1969-1970 Member Bay Area Narcotic Roundtable
    1969-1971 Coordinating Council Narcotic Representative
    1969-1972 Member Juvenile Justice Committee
    1969-1972 Created/organized First Living Christmas Tree. Decorating ceremony for small children. Tree still in Polliwog Park.
    1969-1973 Member of the Coordinating Council
    1970 Created PR campaign for the Police Department: "Smile at the Next Policeman"
      Created PR for Drug committee: "Action Eye Opener"
      "Community Service Award" — Manhattan Beach Police Department
      "Commendation for Community Service" Chamber Of Commerce
    1970-1971 President of the Manhattan Beach Little League Woman's Auxiliary
    1970-1974 Created and published the "Dugout News" for the Manhattan Beach Little League
    1972-1982 Member Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
    1972-1973 2nd V.P. Coordinating Council
    1974 Appointed to Commission for Manhattan Beach School District Educational Goals
      "Outstanding Service Award" Chamber of Commerce
    1974-1986 Co-founder and member of the Steering Committee for the Medal of Valor Awards Luncheons
    1977 President Mira Costa PTA
    1978 President and formed the "Mira Costa Circle" from the Mira Costa PTA
    1979-1980 President Mira Coast Circle (PTA)
      "Distinguished Service Award" – Chamber of Commerce 1979-1984
    1979 Appointed to the Blue Ribbon Ad Hoc Committee for consolidation of Police & Fire Department
    1981 Appointed to the Planning Commission
      Appointed to the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee
      1st V.P. Chamber of Commerce
      Manhattan Beach profile, "Jan Dennis, Manhattan Renaissance Woman", in Beach Reporter
    1982 President Chamber of Commerce
      Member "Re-E1ection Campaign for Marilyn Ryan" Committee
      Formed the Manhattan Beach Olympic Committee
    1982-1984 Chairman of the Medal of Valor Awards Committee/Luncheon
    1983 Created JPH Enterprises (Touring Company)
      Member of the El Segundo Employers Association
    1984 "Medal of Valor Service Award" for 10 years of dedication
    1984-1988 Member of the City Council
    1986-1987 Mayor City of Manhattan Beach
      Chairman/ Founder of the 75th City Anniversary Committee
    1986-2000 Member Historical Society
    1987 Initiated Manhattan Beach FLAG and LAPEL PIN
      Initiated Student Government Leadership Day Program for Mira Costa students
      Researched, wrote and self-published a coffee table book, "A WALK BESIDE THE SEA", a history of Manhattan Beach containing 209 pages
    1987-1989 Board of Directors Historical Society
    1988 Member Neptunian Woman 's Club
      Ran for Council and Lost
      Founder/Member Manhattan Beach Residents Association
    1988-1991 President Manhattan Beach Residents Association
    1990-1991 1st V.P. president Coordinating Council
      President Coordinating Council
      Program Chairman Manhattan Beach Residents Association
    1991 "Community Service Award" — Carnation Co. & Volunteer Center
    1992-1993 Program Chairman Neptunian Woman's Club
    1993 Worked on the book, "BLOW" author Bruce Porter
      "Citizen of the Year" Lions Club International
      "Certificate of Appreciation — Coordinating Council
    1994-1996 Wrote for the Manhattan Beach Little League Roster
    1996-1998 President Neptunian Woman's Club
    1997 Created/Chairman "Envelope of Life" project
      Developed the City's 85th display at the City Library. Subject: The Neptunian Woman's Club
    1998 started new coffee table book, "SHADOWS ON THE DUNES" a history of Manhattan Beach Architecture
      First "Bright Light" personality in "Beach Reporter"
      "El Camino College Distinguished Woman Award" placed on the Women's Wall of Fame in Schauerman Library at the College
    1999 First to be declared an "Icon" of Manhattan Beach by the "Beach Reporter"
    2001 Signed contract with Arcadia Publishing for the adaptation of "A WALK BESIDE THE SEA". New title "Images of America: Manhattan Beach" .
      "Appreciation of Donation" — Manhattan Beach Police Department
    2002 Self-published "SHADOWS ON THE DUNES", 207 pages.
      Researched & wrote "MANHATTAN BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT" for Arcadia Publishing
      Donated "Life Shear Rescue Tool" to Fire Department
      "Appreciation of Donation for Rescue Cutters" – Manhattan Beach Fire Department
    2004 Researched new book "MANHATTAN BEACH PIER" for Arcadia Publishing
      Developed and Chaired the "Manhattan Beach Cultural Heritage Conservancy"
    2004-2005 "Certificate of Appreciation" – Home Instead Senior Care
    2005 Researched and wrote, "MANHATTAN BEACH PIER", published by Arcadia Publishing
      Donated a $14,000.00 Kiln to the Mira Costa High School Ceramic Department
    2006 Wrote history of "THE BADMINTON CLUB" for the Club's 70th Anniversary
      Started a 4-year scholarship for Sara Hilgendorf, who graduated from Mira Costa and went to UCLA
      "Rose and Scroll Award" Chamber of Commerce and Don Knabe, Supervisor, 4th District
    2006-2008 Researched, wrote, and self-published "Skirts Across the Sand", a 100-year history of Manhattan Beach Women
      Had printed & published "Skirts Across The Sand"
    2009 Chaired the Neptunian 100th Anniversary
      Wrote "How Well Do You Know Your Town's History" for the "Manhattan Beach Sun" newspaper
    2010 Member 100th City Anniversary Committee
      Developed "Walking Tour" for Manhattan Beach Cultural Heritage Conservancy
      Developed "Manhattan Beach History" Deck of Playing Cards
      "El Camino College Distinguished Woman Award" — placed on the Women's Wall of Fame in Schauerman Library at the College .
    2016 Distinguished Service Award City of Manhattan Beach
    2017 Researched, wrote and published, "Thread in the Tapestry: A History of Sepulveda Boulevard in Manhattan Beach"
      Bob Meistrell Local Legend Award
    2019 Researched, wrote and published, "The History of the Manhattan Beach Fire Department"

    Preferred Citation

    For information about citing archival material, see the Citations for Archival Material  guide, or consult the appropriate style manual.

    Conditions Governing Access

    There are no access restrictions on this collection except where noted at folder-level.

    Conditions Governing Use

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Donated by Jan Dennis, 2019 and 2020.

    Separated Materials

    Duplicate copies of books were removed from the archival collection and are cataloged in the Gerth Archives book collection. One oversized poster for the "Manhattan Beach Centennial Parade and Picnic 2012" has also been removed from the collection and is located in Map Case 4, Drawer 5.

    Related Materials

    To access copies of all of Jan Dennis' published material; as well as other published material related to Manhattan Beach please consult the CSUDH OneSearch catalog 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Manhattan Beach (Calif.)
    Clippings (Books, newspapers, etc.)
    City councils
    Manhattan Beach (Calif.) -- History
    Manhattan Beach Historical Committee
    City of Manhattan Beach City Council