"Preliminary to the dedication of the park. . . came the
incorporation of the San Diego History Center late in 1928 and the building
of the museum which occupied the first six months of 1929," relates Mary
Marston. “Father proposed the forming of an organization that would stimulate
interest in our historical background and be an aid to scholars and historians
of the future. For the society’s headquarters father offered the memorial
building which he had in mind. The society, which had been organized in 1880,
was incorporated December 13, 1928, Father was made its first president."
One of the founders of the society and a member of the Board
of Directors until the day of his death was Julius Wangenheim.
The by-laws of the San Diego History Center state that it is
… a non-profit, cultural and educational organization, dedicated to the
discovery, collection and preservation of books, pamphlets, maps, genealogies,
portraits, paintings, artifacts, relics, manuscripts, letters, journals,
diaries, surveys, field books, news-papers, historical landmarks and buildings
and other related documents and objects which establish or illustrate the
history of Western America, particularly the City and County of San Diego and
the State of California.
The society is also committed to the publication,
dissemination and proper interpretation of such historical materials.The
society maintains a unique and valuable research library
and manuscript collection located in the museum. It houses a remarkable and
growing collection of materials dating from 1542 to the present, including 6000
published volumes, biographical files on thousands of San Diegans,
including early pioneers, 250 reels of microfilm of San Diego newspapers dating
from 1851-1939, 500 photostatic copies and 32 reels of micro-film of Spanish
documents in Mexico City’s Archivo General pertaining to Southern California
between 1769 and 1840, 300 indexed typescripts and tape recorded interviews
with early settlers, numerous official city and county documents, over five
hundred maps, 8000 photographs and iconographic items, and a wide variety of
miscellaneous primary and secondary source materials pertinent to San Diego
history. The library is open to the public.
The museum is open six days a week and houses relics of the
Spanish, Mexican and early United States periods of San Diego’s history.
The society sponsors many activities including a Young
Historians organization, field trips, conventions, lectures, films, autograph
parties, tours, archeological excavations, restoration of sites, exhibits,
historical speakers, etc. It also publishes a quarterly historical magazine and
a monthly newsletter.