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Tuesday, August 23, 2005 | The city is going through a difficult political period that will surely land it a place in the history books. In fact, San Diego is an extremely historic city, but until now, a person wanting to discover that history has had to visit several museums and historic sites to get the full story.

In an effort to change that, a stellar group of local historians met recently at the San Diego Historical Society to begin planning a permanent exhibition about San Diego regional history. The exhibit will be the focal point of the society’s museum in Balboa Park. Many major colleges and universities sent representatives, including Iris Engstrand and colleagues from the University of San Diego, Raymond Starr and several San Diego State University historians, Dawn Riggs of Cal State Fullerton, and Jim Miller of SDSU and the San Diego Community Colleges.

At the invitation of David Watson, executive director of the San Diego Historical Society, the assembled group also included representatives from local historical societies and cultural organizations such as Save Our Heritage Organization, Women’s History Museum, Coronado Historical Association, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The group’s goal is to help the San Diego Historical Society develop an exhibition that tells the story of San Diego’s history- a project the society has attempted to complete for 20 years. Using the society’s massive photograph collection as a starting place, the historians will work with society staff to develop an exhibition that will allow both tourists and residents to better understand the region. Artifacts and objects from the society’s collection relating to early people and industries will augment the research library’s collection of 2.5 million images.

Completion of the permanent exhibition is only one aspect of the revitalization of the San Diego Historical Society under the enthusiastic direction of David Watson. To find out more about the society, this project, or to offer comments, contact him at

Linda Canada, a retired attorney, writes about local history, and is a long-time volunteer at the San Diego Historical Society and other history organizations. Contact her at

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