California History Center

History as Education

Focusing on California and regional studies, the California History Center and Foundation present exhibits, offer classes with De Anza College, publish books and a periodical, and operate a library and archives. Special events including lectures, panel discussions and workshops are also featured.

New Installment: Witnessing History

dean congratulating student

Carolyn Wilkins-Santos, a former De Anza College dean, has been a lifelong advocate for equity. In this new installment of the Witnessing History series, she describes her family influences, her experiences as a college student protesting discrmination in the 1960s, and her later years as an educator promoting opportunities for all students.

The new installment includes excerpts from a video interview conducted by historian David Howard-Pitney, who also wrote the accompanying article.

Hidden Histories of Japantown

city view with fans and writing on sky

The California History Center is co-sponsor of an ambitious, augmented reality community art project in San José’s Japantown neighborhood, along with a companion exhibit at the Japanese American Museum of San José.

The project, “Hidden Histories of San José Japantown," features pieces by nine artists, installed throughout the neighborhood. It combines technology, art, history and culture to find a new way of sharing stories about the Chinese, Japanese and Filipino communities that helped shape Japantown. With the help of an easily downloaded mobile app, anyone can view the augmented reality artwork while walking around the area.

woman with augmented reality image"Hidden Histories” was initiated by Tom Izu, executive director emeritus of the California History Center, and Susan Hayase, who were inspired by the work of augmented-reality artist Tamiko Thiel.

They partnered with local artists including De Anza alum Maylea Saito, as well as scholars, historians and activists to develop the project.

About the California History Center

With its programs and resources, the California History Center  – which has received numerous awards and honors – is an active focal point for California history studies and has been recognized as an "outstanding educational facility" by the State of California.

Emphasizing living history, the center provides students with a unique opportunity to "encounter the historic site, document, or experienced individual, and personally interpret and recreate a period in history."

Housed in the reconstructed le Petit Trianon, a national registered landmark located on the De Anza campus, the center offers credit classes, changing exhibits and a video documentation program. The magazine Californian appears 3 times a year. Students can participate in all of these activities

Additionally, the center's Stocklmeir Library hosts a growing collection of materials on California history and on almost every aspect of Santa Clara Valley's development, including student research papers, books, journals, video and audio oral histories, photographs, manuscripts, newsletters, clippings and pamphlets.

Audrey Edna Butcher Civil Liberties Education Initiative

Audrey ButcherAudrey Butcher was a local World War II-era schoolteacher who taught students that civil rights must be protected and never again violated as they were with the internment of Japanese Americans. In Audrey's honor, her daughter, Margaret, donated a generous gift to the CHC to create a civil liberties education initiative. 

The gift will help ensure the ongoing operation and long-term sustainability of the CHC.


Lori Clinchard

Lori Clinchard
Faculty Coordinator

California History Center

We're Open!

The California History Center is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Executive Director Emeritus

Tom Izu

Tom Izu
Executive Director Emeritus

California History Center

Tom Izu Honored

CHC board members

The California History Center's Tom Izu has been honored by a prominent community organization for his work as a civil rights educator and advocate.

Izu is one of four honorees recognized by the Asian Americans for Community Involvement organization during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May 2020. His profile was also featured by NBC Bay Area.

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