"I’m convinced that local history has wide appeal. You have to live somewhere, and wherever you live, it should be an object of curiosity to you. If it’s not, they should throw dirt in your face, because you’re already dead."
— Orange County Historian Jim Sleeper
Orange County is one of the best known – and yet least understood – counties in America. And one of the things missing from many attempts to explain it is an understanding of our past. Too many reporters, feature writers, and even scholars don’t seem to grasp that the roots of the county’s identity run far deeper than the emergence of modern Orange County in the 1960s.
I have been researching and writing Orange County history since 1975. I have always focused more on the older stories; not that our recent history is not fascinating, but there are others better equipped to tell those stories. Besides, there does come a point where these stories cease to be history and become current events.
The index below will lead you to a growing number of stories. Most were written by me, but I will also be adding some original documents from our past. You can also submit questions on the “Ask a Local Historian” page.
This website isn’t meant to be a “complete” history of Orange County – simply a collection of stories I wanted to share. They don’t do any good just sitting in my files.
At its best, local history can help give all of us a sense of connection to the past, a sense of belonging, a sense of place. We are all part of a larger story. If I can help build a growing appreciation of Orange County’s past, my work will be worthwhile.
— Phil Brigandi