For the first time ever California State University, Long Beach will now have a published account of its history.
In Long Beach State: A Brief History—which was just released on Monday, August 24—CSULB journalism professor Barbara Kingsley-Wilson provides information on the people who helped grow the college from bean fields into one of the largest universities in California.
The 322-acre campus—with about 36,000 undergraduate and graduate students—is most notably known for its 18-story high Walter Pyramid, its Long Beach State Dirtbags baseball team, and famous alumni such as Oscar winner Steven Spielberg and gold medal-winning Olympic beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor.
However, not many know the university could have potentially been located in Lakewood, Downey or even Santa Ana.
The book includes interviews and previously unreleased oral histories from President P. Victor Peterson, who helped establish the college in 1949, as well as longtime President Stephen Horn, who served 17 years and helped it grow into a university, according to a press release.
Kingsley-Wilson said she came up with the idea for the project when she came across a history book on California State University, Dominguez Hills while browsing in a Long Beach bookstore.
“I remember thinking, OK, so there must be one for CSULB as it's older and larger,” she said.
But there was no book, so the journalist and history buff decided to write one.
Kingsley-Wilson said the most enjoyable part of the 16-month researching, writing and editing process was meeting people who were there in the early days.
“And hearing oral interviews from those professors and students who took a chance on a new school that started in a converted apartment building with no books on hand,” she said. “It was messy and crazy and the institution grew too fast for planners to get a handle on, but it did grow to become a large university.”
The book was produced by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, the largest and most comprehensive publisher of local and regional content in the United States, the release stated.
“By empowering local history and culture enthusiasts to write local stories for local audiences, we create exceptional books that enrich lives and bring readers closer to their community, their neighbors, and their past,” the publishing house stated.
Those interested in purchasing the 160-page paperback book can do so at Barnes & Noble, Apostrophe Books, the CSULB bookstore on Second Street and the Historical Society of Long Beach.
Above, left photo by Adrian Liwanag.