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Iris Engstrand and Anne Bullard
Inspired by Nature: The San Diego Natural History Museum After 125 Years
October 21, 1999

There has been tremendous change during the 125 year history of the San Diego Society of Natural History, but the mission of the institution remains essentially as written in 1874. This book celebrates our colorful past and points the way to a promising future. Lessons learned by studying our past include:

  • Our binational region is wonderfully unique and most worthy of continued study and investment.
  • The core Mission of this institution has always been object-based research and education and both are absolutely necessary.
  • Meaningful research, education and conservation efforts in our region require true binational participation and partnership.
  • Our Museum has thrived when it was relevant to the people of our region and languished when it lost touch with the needs of the people it served.
  • Life-long educational experiences have greatly increased the quality of life for those the Museum has served and always will.
  • A small group of committed people can leave a legacy benefiting future generations for centuries and, indeed, our Museum is proof of that.
  • A committed Board of Trustees, visionary leadership, an excellent professional staff, and quality volunteers are all essential ingredients for a successful museum.


Iris Engstrand, Professor of History at the University of San Diego, received her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California. She is the author of 17 books including San Diego: California's Cornerstone (1980); Spanish Scientists in the New World (1981); The First Forty Years: A History of the University of San Diego 1949-1989 (1990); Reflections: A History of the San Diego Gas & Electric Company (1991); San Diego:Gateway to the Pacific (1992); and Quest for Empire: Spanish Settlement in the Southwest (1996). Dr. Engstrand's academic honors include the University of San Diego's distinguished University Professorship (1994-95) and the Davies Award for Faculty Achievement (1984). She has also received Awards of Merit from the San Diego and California Historical Societies, fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, American Philosophical Society and Huntington Library, and research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the California Council for the Humanities.

Anne Bullard, consultant on archival collections, has worked closely with the San Diego Natural History Museum to design the expanded library/archives for the museum addition begun in 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Claremont McKenna College and received her Master of Arts degree in history from University of San Diego in 1994. Ms. Bullard has written articles on San Diego history including "Charles Russell Orcutt, Pioneer Naturalist"(1993) and "1926, the Formative Year of Kensington Heights"(1995) for the Journal of San Diego History. She has worked as a technical writer and instructional designer for San Diego businesses including Mail Boxes Etc. and Andersen Consulting, LLP.