The Coast News Group
Dennis Jardin, of Oceanside, looks through historic city photos. Oceanside is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Photo by Promise Yee
Dennis Jardin, of Oceanside, looks through historic city photos. Oceanside is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Photo by Promise Yee

Historical Society opens up city’s photo archives

OCEANSIDE — To honor the city’s 125th anniversary, the Oceanside Historical Society gave a PowerPoint presentation of more than a dozen historic Oceanside images at the Civic Center Library on Sept. 14. 

Included were photos of the first school, town dairy, Recreation Park, former Oceanside Pier and early photos of Camp Pendleton.

“We have a very small museum, but one of the largest photo collections,” Kristi Hawthorne, Oceanside Historical Society president, said. “It’s a tremendous research archive.”

The Oceanside Historical Society has more than 10,000 photos, negatives and digital images of Oceanside in its collection that date from the 1880s to 1980s.

“The negative collection is very extensive,” Hawthorne said. The collection holds a large number of photos from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, and fewer images from the 1970s.

“We don’t have a lot of photos from the 1970s,” Hawthorne said. “I think it’s because people are not thinking the 1970s and 1980s are history.”

The collection includes photos that are on loan and donated to the historical society.

“A lot of times people donate the photos outright,” Hawthorne said. “Other times we scan the photo to add it to our collection and give back the original photograph. It might be an heirloom or a family photo.”

To protect original photos, all images are scanned that the public is allowed to handle.

Information is collected from the donor and further research is done to pinpoint the date and location of each image. Buildings, cars, and clothing are all markers of time that help date the photo.

Photos donated by Oceanside families have built much of the historical society’s collection.

“We love to see people’s photo collections,” Hawthorne said. “We don’t have a lot of images of homes and neighborhoods. Photos in a family photo album are just as historic as professional photos.”

Some significant Oceanside contributors to the historical society’s collection are Mary Steiger, Randy Carpenter, Peter Weslow and Dolores Sloan.

“Mary Steiger donated an amazing amount of photos and memorabilia,” Hawthorne said. “Dolores Sloan’s father was a police captain. His photos are the basis that began our photo collection in 1985.”

The historical society’s collection also includes films and videos, which are transferred to DVD.

“We love film and video,” Hawthorne said. “We have a few minutes of a 1956 Miss America contest at the Oceanside bandshell with Raquel Welch as one of the contestants.”

Occasionally the historical society puts out a request for a specific image or time period of photos through its newsletter and Facebook page. Hawthorne said the historical society is always looking for additional images.

“There’s not a photo season, we’re always looking for photos,” Hawthorne said.

The Oceanside Historical Society formed in 1985, a few years before the city celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“Oceanside was getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 1989 and we realized there wasn’t a historical society,” said John Daley, Oceanside Historical Society cofounder and current vice president.

Hawthorne joined the Oceanside Historical Society in 1988, just when the historical society published its first book, “Oceanside, Crest of the Wave.”

Since then Hawthorne authored the second book published by the historical society in 2000, “Oceanside, Where Life’s Worth Living.” A third historical photo book, which is still untitled, is set to be out this year.

The Oceanside Historical society is located at 305 N. Nevada Street.