www.sandiegohistory.orgSAN DIEGO HISTORY CENTER


Established in 1928
An 87-year-legacy of public service to the San Diego community



The San Diego History Center tells the diverse story of our region – past, present and future – educates and enriches our community, preserves our history, and fosters civic pride.


One of the oldest and largest historical organizations on the West Coast, the San Diego History Center is one of the only institutions dedicated to the heritage of a major American metropolitan region. The History Center was established in 1928 by noted philanthropist, businessman and civic leader George W. Marston, who built the Junípero Serra Museum to house the new institution on Presidio Hill, site of the founding of San Diego and California.  Marston gifted the Serra Museum and the adjacent land to the City of San Diego in 1929. For over sixty years, the Serra was the site of the Historical Society and Research Library. In 1982, the Historical Society moved its collections and museum to Balboa Park, maintaining the Serra as an auxiliary museum and educational center. In 2010, San Diego History Center was formally adopted as the institution’s name.


The History Center is the steward of our heritage and the principal resource for San Diego history – collecting, preserving and displaying unparalleled collections of regional history. No other institution is solely devoted to preserving San Diego’s collective history and enhancing community identity. A unique civic resource committed to public engagement and collaboration, the History Center partners with other museums, San Diego and regional school districts, other historical organizations, media, businesses and corporations to deliver programs to the broadest audience.


The History Center presents dynamic, engaging exhibitions highlighting what makes San Diego unique and the region’s emerging role in the 21st century. We serve as a lifelong learning center for all members of our community, providing outstanding educational programs for school children and popular programs for families and adults. The Research Library serves residents, scholars, students and researchers onsite and online. With its rich historical content, archived material and online photo gallery, our website is visited by more than 1,500 distinct visitors daily. Since 1955, in cooperation with the University of San Diego, the History Center has published the prestigious Journal of San Diego History, one of the only scholarly publications dedicated to a major American metropolitan region. Since 2013, the History Center has been a Smithsonian Affiliate.

The History Center operates facilities in two National Historic Districts: the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park; the Research Library and Document Archives also in Balboa Park; and the Junípero Serra Museum in Presidio Park. The History Center has 40 full and part-time staff and contractors, and more than 100 volunteers assist with research, archiving, collections, education, exhibitions, membership and events. The History Center is governed by a 23-member Board of Trustees and a 19-member Advisory Board. We serve a membership of 1,700 and over 150,000 visitors annually at both museums. The San Diego History Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose operations are supported by earned income from admissions, memberships, store and photo sales and facility rentals. Our primary source of support is contributions and grants from individuals, foundations and corporations, as well as county, state and federal grants and annual operating support from the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. The FY16 operating budget is $3.5 million.
For more information: Financials (pdf)      Annual Report


Our vast regionally and even nationally significant collections encompass 45 million documents – business, public and architectural records, maps, diaries and manuscripts; 2.5 million historic photographs, one of the most important collections in the western U.S.; 1,700 oral histories, the largest collection in California; 1,500 films, some rare and historic; 15,000 historic objects, including artifacts dating back to the Kumeyaay; 7,000 items of historic clothing, one of the finest collections in the U.S.; and a significant collection of San Diego artwork.


The History Center presents engaging, family-friendly exhibitions with hands-on participatory activities that tell the remarkable stories of our region. Recent exhibitions have showcased the San Diego tuna industry and the regional craft brew industry and explored the history and impact of the U.S. Military on San Diego. Art exhibitions include major exhibitions on Charles Reiffel, WPA Depression Era art and contemporary San Diego landscapes. The Balboa Park museum was at the historic heart of the 2015 Centennial Celebration, with year-long marquee exhibitions on the Art of Dr. Seuss; the 1915 Exposition; Masterworks, displaying paintings shown at the 1915 Expo; and a new documentary film, Balboa Park: Jewel of San Diego. Major 2016 exhibitions are The Lore behind the Roar! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo, and a comprehensive exhibition on famed San Diego architect, Irving J, Gill.


The History Center was the primary museum celebrating the Balboa Park 2015 Centennial. In 2019, the Serra Museum in Presidio Park will be the focal point for the celebration of San Diego’s 250th birthday. The History Center is enhancing access to both museums and to our research collections, incorporating new technologies to enhance the visitor experience and expanding school programs and educational outreach. We are reinvigorating the Serra Museum, transforming it into a heritage tourist destination through a comprehensive interpretive and exhibition master plan.


(Board of Trustees Image courtesy of Dave Siccardi)


Thompson Fetter, President; Chairman, T. Fetter & Co.; Past President, San Diego Zoological Society
Joe Craver, Vice President; retired U.S. Air Force colonel and founder, Galaxie Defense Marketing
John Morrell, Vice President; Chairman and Managing Partner, Higgs, Fletcher & Mack
Bob Watkins, Vice President; President and Chairman, R.J. Watkins & Company, Ltd.
Frank Alessi, Treasurer; Former Director of Finance, Centre City Development Corporation
Allan Wasserman, Secretary; Senior Vice President, Fidelity National Title
Margie Warner, Assistant Secretary; Community Volunteer
Robert F. Adelizzi, President Emeritus; Chairman, Monterra Corp.
Hal Sadler, President Emeritus; Chairman, Tucker Sadler AIA


Charles ‘Chuck’ Bieler, Former Executive Director, San Diego Zoo Global
Richard Bregante, Attorney, Retired
Raymond Carpenter, President, R.E. Staite Engineering
Brian Chambers, Vice President and Senior Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo Bank
Debby Cushman-Parrish, Director, Cush Enterprises and Selma Investments
Dan Eaton, Attorney, Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek
Jim Fitzpatrick, CEO and Publisher of San Diego Magazine, LLC
J. Kevin Heinly, Principal and Managing Director, Gensler
Gayle Hom, Principal, Hom Strategies, Former Director of Community Affairs, Price Philanthropies
Robert A. Kittle, Retired Editorial Page Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Brian Mooney, Principal, RICK Engineering
Kay Porter, Community Volunteer
Ellis C. Smith, Principal, Messner and Smith
Stephen B. Williams, Principal, co-founded SENTRE


Malin Burnham, President, The Burnham Foundation
Thomas A. Caughlan, Director of Safety & Standardization, Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton; Co-Founder Fleet Week San Diego
Iris Engstrand, PhD, Professor of History, University of San Diego
M. Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Historic Preservation Kim Fletcher, President, Investors Leasing Corporation
Tom Karlo, General Manager, KPBS
Bob Kelly, Executive-in-Residence, National University Sanford Institute of Philanthropy; Former President, The San Diego Foundation
Helen Kinnaird, Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist
Yvonne W. Larsen, Community Leader; Past President San Diego Zoological Society
David Malcolm, Chairman, Suncoast Financial
Seth W. Mallios, PhD, Chair, Department of Anthropology, San Diego State University
Rana Sampson, Vice President/Promotions Manager, Union Bank, Greater San Diego Coachella Valley & Riverside
Hon. Lynn Schenk, former Congresswoman, 49th District
Drew Schlosberg, Community and Public Relations Manager, San Diego Union-Tribune
Mary L. Walshok, PhD, Dean, University of California San Diego Extension
Stephen B. Williams, Principal, SENTRE Partners
Hon. Pete Wilson, former Governor of California; former Mayor of San Diego
Karin E. Winner, former Executive Editor, San Diego Union-Tribune



William Lawrence, Executive Director
Maria Howard, HR Manager
Lorraine Schmalenberger, Staff Accountant
Woody Ledford & Associates, CPA


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Matthew Schiff, Marketing Director
Gabe Selak, History Ambassador
Diana Inocencio, Graphic Designer/Web & Social Media Manager
Allison Hendrickson, Visitor & Volunteer Engagement Manager
Lynda Balloni, Visitor Engagement Associate
Souti Chatterjee, Visitor Engagement Associate
Anita Mercado, Visitor Engagement Associate
Lauryn Semere, Visitor Engagement Associate
Manny Aguilar, Store Associate


Tina Zarpour, Education Director
Sarah Matteson, Content & Interpretive Specialist
Samantha Alberts, Education Coordinator
Kristina March, Education & Curriculum Specialist


Tara Centybear, Collections Manager/Curator
Chris Travers, Director of the Photograph Collection
Tammie Bennett, Registrar
Jane Kenealy, Archivist
Samantha Mills, Assistant Archivist
Amanda Tewes, Oral Historian
Carol Myers, Photo Archivist
Natalie Fiocre, Image Technician


Keith Busby, Facilities/Exhibits Manager
Nyabthok Goldet, Museum Custodian


The San Diego History Center is committed to attracting, developing and retaining a highly qualified workforce and to providing a work environment where all employees, volunteers and interns are encouraged to reach their highest potential and are valued and recognized for their contributions to fulfilling our mission. The History Center is an equal opportunity employer, dedicated to a policy of non-discrimination in employment on any basis including age, sex, color, race, creed, national origin, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, political belief or disability.


Development and Events Coordinator

Please send your cover letter and resume to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with “Development & Events Coordinator” in the subject line. Please, no phone calls. 


The San Diego History Center offers many rewarding volunteer opportunities. With more than 100 active volunteers assisting in many departments and on special projects, volunteers are the lifeblood of our institution.

Advertisers & Partners

Learn more about the advertisers and charities featured in Giving Back Magazine.

See Partners