San Diego: Where California Began was first published as Volume VI, Number 1 (January 1960) of the San Diego History Center Quarterly. It has since passed through four editions. The fifth edition, published in 1985, was extended by Senator Mills to cover the years between 1959 and 1985. The complete text of the fifth edition is presented here, but the hard copy of the book (available on site in the Research Library) has many more images.

84 pages, softbound, ISBN 0-918740-0405


James R. Mills, was, at the time he wrote this book, the curator of the San Diego History Center’s Junipero Serra Museum, a position he held from 1955 to 1960, when he left the employ of the Historical Society to run for the state assembly in the 79th district. He was elected and served until 1966, when he ran for the state senate, where he represented San Diego County until 1982.

During his 22 years as a member of the California legislature he left his own mark on the history of San Diego. He was the author of the legislation that created the Old San Diego State Park and the San Diego light rail system (the San Diego trolley). He was responsible for the state appropriation of $500,000 for the restoration of the Old Globe Theater after it was destroyed by fire in 1978, and that state appropriation triggered a federal contribution, without which the project could not have been undertaken. He was also responsible for appropriations that built the library building at San Diego State University and the Third College campus at the University of California at San Diego, which he helped legislatively to establish.

While a member of the legislature he served as chairman of the majority caucus in both houses of the legislature and as chairman of the rules committee in both houses. He also acted as the elected chief of the senate for ten years, being president pro tempore from January of 1971 to December of 1980.