HIST 587: Monuments and Memory: The Built Environment and Historical Memory in San Diego

Dr. Nathan Ellstrand

Spring 2023

San Diego State University

About the Class

Over the past decade, you most likely have encountered news coverage of debates over monuments. Local community members, activists, politicians, and others engage in discussions – and even action – over whether certain statues should be standing. Confederate monuments have been at the center of such debates, but so too have structures relating to colonialism and fascism.

What exactly is a monument? What is memory? How are both important in our everyday lives, especially in the context of San Diego? The city has not been immune to discourse around monuments. This course utilizes monuments and memory to examine the built environment in San Diego over time.

About the Digital Exhibits

Students in the class worked as part of a group on a digital exhibit on a local monument of their choice in San Diego County. Each group chose and conducted research on its background – what prompted its construction, what was it meant to represent, how was it received, how has its meaning changed over time, and what discussions/debates exist now (or lack thereof).

Please navigate the digital exhibits about the respective monuments at the top of your screen.


This site would not be possible without the assistance of Dr. Pamella Lach, Digital Humanities Librarian and Digital Humanities Center Director, or Laura Scott, who piloted Omeka S at SDSU.

Thank you to the students who worked on these digital exhibits:

Cabrillo National Monument

Chicano Park

Japanese Friendship Garden


SDSU War Memorial

Woman of Tehuantepec