Community Historians are trained volunteers and staff who bring their passion for San Diego history to your community meetings and organizations through informative talks. Our speakers can introduce visitors and tourists to San Diego history or else dive deep into the details of a unique San Diego topic.

Program presentations are illustrated with historic photos and documents from our Research Archives.

Available topics include:

  • Dam the Water and Pray for Rain
  • Old Town to New Town: The Development of San Diego
  • San Diego History to 1915
  • San Diego History 1900-1985
  • San Diego – It’s All About Diversity
  • Settling the San Diego Mission and Presidio
  • World War I in San Diego”

But we are not limited to these! If you have a specific topic in mind for your function, please reach out to discuss options.

Submit a Program Request

Submit a Program Request at least two weeks before your preferred presentation date. Not all presentation topics are available on all dates.

Request a program: Community Historian Program Request

The tuition fee is $150. In the interest of broadly serving all San Diego County residents, tuition assistance is available for those who need it.

Presentations are typically 1 hour.

For more information or questions: 619-232-6203 x 108 or

Community Historians can also be seen on Residents’ Free Tuesdays!

On the second Tuesday of each month, watch a Community Historian presentation at 1:00 pm in our Thornton Theater. Each lecture is free with “Give Forward” admission.

Upcoming Topics

March 13, 2018, 1:00 pm

Settling the San Diego Mission and Presidio
Presented by Sarah Matteson
As the first permanent European settlement in Alta California, the founding of the mission and presidio in San Diego was a major turning point in the history of the region. Mission San Diego de Alcalá and Presidio de San Diego were the products of an expanding Spanish empire that would bring new people to the region; alter the Native cultures; and introduce new foods, animals, and technology.

April 10, 2018, 1:00 pm

San Diego – It’s All About Diversity
Presented by Barry Goldlust
This presentation takes an overview look at San Diego’s history, focusing particularly on the people living here. It begins by looking at the region’s original inhabitants and tracks the changes made by the arrival of the Spanish, the change to the Mexican government, and eventual American control. The presentation also looks at the significant migratory waves that brought new people to the region and the governmental policies and attitudes that shaped these new communities.

May 8, 2018, 1:00 pm

Women in San Diego
Presented by Sarah Matteson
Too often ignored in history, this presentation highlights the women of San Diego. We will look at women through the years to understand what roles they have played in shaping the community and explore their perspectives on the events they lived through.

June 12, 2018, 1:00 pm

San Diego City’s Favorite Park
Presented by Samantha Alberts
Set aside as City Park in 1868, today’s Balboa Park has undergone a multitude of changes in its 150 years. Once a series of barren mesas, the park now boasts several well-known gardens and museums. Learn how the park has evolved in this presentation, and discover some of its less famous uses.

July 10, 2018, 1:00 pm

San Diego Drag Racing And The Bean Bandits
Presented by a guest speaker. Learn more here.

August 14, 2018, 1:00 pm
Presented by a guest speaker: More information will be released closer to the event date.