City Historian

Current City Historian

Toby A. Echelberry (January 7, 2019 - Present)

Term Expires January 7, 2027.

Historical Articles, Biographical Reports, and Essays, Written by Toby

One of my goals as City Historian is to publish a new report at least once a month the articles in which I have completed

Recognizing Labor Day
"Recognizing Labor Day" delves into the historical roots of Labor Day, highlighting the struggles and sacrifices of American laborers during the Industrial Revolution, the rise of unions, notable strikes and riots, and the establishment of labor laws, culminating in the official recognition of Labor Day as a national holiday in 1894.

California Admission Day
"California Admission Day" details the history of California's journey to statehood on September 9, 1850, the subsequent celebrations that marked the occasion for many years, the political shifts surrounding its recognition, and the author's call to reflect on and honor the state's rich history and diverse contributions.

The History of the Bear Flag and Gilroy
In 1846, amidst rising tensions between American settlers and the Mexican government in Alta California, the Bear Flag Revolt unfolded in Sonoma, where rebels briefly declared an independent California Republic before the U.S. took control, leading to California's statehood in 1850; this article also delves into early settlers of Gilroy, the origins of the Bear Flag, and its eventual designation as the official state flag in 1911.

The El Camino Real and the Bells 
El Camino Real, otherwise known as the King or Royal Highway, runs about 600 miles from San Diego to Sonoma, once used as the main roadway linking each of the California Missions. The Bells are the markers marking the path.

One of the first Gilroy Trustees in 1868 who led and built the foundation of the legislature of the Township and started the framework for Gilroy to become an incorporated City.

Early California Pioneer, miner, farmer, lumberman, and entrepreneur who had a significant history in the Town of Gilroy and Santa Clara County.

Role of the City Historian

The role of the City Historian is to increase public awareness of the history of the City and community of Gilroy. The position's job description was formalized on March 4, 2019 with Resolution No. 2019-04. The City Historian provides interpretation of Gilroy’s past by gathering and evaluating evidence, making thoughtful and appropriate generalizations, and writing well-organized narratives. Duties may include:

  • Providing presentations to organizations and social groups
  • Developing an education program for school tours including history walks
  • Preparing and teaching adult educators in local and regional history
  • Providing articles on local history topics for local print, online and social media 
  • Assisting in providing resource to the City’s Historic Heritage Committee
  • Support for the endeavors of the Gilroy Historic Society
  • Development and continuation of Heritage Tourism activities

Appointed Term of Office

Four (4) year term, with no term limits.


  • Acquire, prepare, record and reporting facts about historically significant Gilroy related events and people.
  • Collaborate with the Gilroy Historic Society on discovery of Gilroy History
  • Collaborate with inter-city agencies, groups and other persons on historical issues
  • Respond to inquiries on Gilroy history
  • Organize and direct commemoration of historical anniversaries and participate in other civic or patriotic observations.
  • Coordinate historical research and subsequent presentation activities among City agencies
  • Advocate for historic preservation and serve as a resource to the City on questions relating to history and historic preservation.
  • Support the preparation of the cultural resources survey, identification of historic structures and prepare nominations to the State and National register of Historic Places.
  • Report to the City Council annual and as required on history-related issues

Functions of the City Historian

Research and Writing 

The first and primary responsibly of the City Historian is interpretation of the past. This involves research and writing on aspects of the City for publication in books, magazines and newspapers.

Teaching and Public Presentations 

As Historian, you may serve as a resource to teachers in the fourth and seventh grade local history curriculum, as a content consultant to speak and lecture to community groups, and you may participate in radio and TV talk shows to disseminate local history.

Historic Preservation

Historians are advocates for historic preservation and a resource to the Historic Heritage Committee and City Council on questions relating to history and preservation. The Historian may be asked to support the preparation of a cultural resources survey to identify historic structures and prepare nominations to the State and National Register of Historic Places, and historic marker programs.

Organization, Advocacy and Tourism Promotion

Historians are asked to organize and direct the commemoration of historical anniversaries and to participate in other civic or patriotic observations, and may participate in local Heritage tourism activities.

  1. Toby Echelberry

    City Historian