Since his retirement and relocation to the Central Coast, Joe has pursued his life-long interest in early California history. As a docent for the Mission, he researched and wrote Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa: A Pictorial Guide. Additionally, San Luis Obispo: 1850 to 1876 traces the civic development of the mission settlement to city hood. It is the only historical effort to document the formative years of the community.
Over the past several years, he has been developing a new archive for the County Library system and has authored A History of the San Luis County Library – a short book on the subject as well as individual branch library histories including San Luis Obispo’s Carnegie Library. Education has been a major role in his life so he was pleased to compile a list of rural schools and libraries, locations and founding dates. This is the first time an exhaustive list of the approximately 125 rural schools has been made available to the general public. Currently, he is writing a monthly column for the City staff on the history of the early years of the City and presents occasional programs for the Lifelong Learners of the Central Coast and other community groups.
For Journal Plus magazine, he researches and writes a monthly article generally relating to some aspect of central coast history and personalities from the Mission era to prominent pioneer figures. To date, over 120 articles have been published.
As a volunteer, he is the City of San Luis Obispo’s Historian/Archivist. In the latter role, he has been reading, organizing and indexing the early records of the community dating from the late 1850s including Council Minutes, police records, ordinances, correspondence and land documents. Preserving Yesterday for Tomorrow is a community wide appeal for donations to professionally preserve, microfilm, and digitalize these records. For this effort, in October 2012, he was honored by the California Council for the Promotion of History with the Dave Byrd Award of Meritorious Performance. A current long term project is compiling short biographies of prominent residents (1915 and before) for use as street names.
In addition to the research and writing about Central Coast history, Dave Congalton has kindly hosted a discussion with him on his radio broadcast on KVEC regarding various aspects of community history.