THE SAN DIEGO HISTORY CENTER
Established in 1928
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 Archives. 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 Archives 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 With its rich historical content, archived material and online photo gallery, our website is visited by more than 1,500 distinct visitors daily.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.