Connecting Generations: Descendants of Early San Diego

The Descendants of Early San Diego (DESD) is a pivotal organization dedicated to the preservation and celebration of the rich cultural heritage of San Diego’s early settlers. Committed to fostering a deeper understanding of the city’s ancestral history, DESD serves as a beacon for community engagement and education. By promoting the stories, customs, and traditions of San Diego’s diverse ethnic families, DESD aims to bridge the past with the present, ensuring that the legacy of those who shaped the region continues to inspire and influence future generations.


The Descendants of Early San Diego (DESD) serves as the cornerstone organization dedicated to fostering community and public awareness of the ancestral and descendant history of Early San Diego. Through education and outreach, DESD aims to keep the rich heritage of San Diego’s early inhabitants alive.


DESD’s mission is to promote, preserve, and nurture the cultural heritage of San Diego’s early ancestors and their descendants. The organization strives to ensure that the legacy of these early pioneers continues to influence and enrich the community.

Core Beliefs

  • Diversity Enriches Community: Embracing diversity is crucial for a vibrant, healthy community.
  • Value of Family History: Recognizing the moral and intellectual virtues inherent in family history.
  • Past Influences Future: Understanding one’s past is pivotal in shaping one’s future.
  • Cultural Preservation: Safeguarding family trees, stories, customs, and rituals is vital to societal value.

Operating Principles

  • Community Engagement: Foster a collaborative environment where individuals can learn, educate, and empower each other through shared knowledge, research, and programs.
  • Genealogical Support: Aid in creating family genealogies through research support, workshops, and networking opportunities.
  • Historical Documentation: Support the development and writing of biographies, conduct oral history interviews, and partner with like-minded organizations to preserve heritage.
  • Partnerships and Support: Collaborate with organizations and businesses that promote heritage in Old Town, Presidio, Cabrillo, and throughout Alta and Baja California.
  • Acknowledgment of Support: Express gratitude to members, public funders, sponsors, businesses, and organizations for their ongoing support.

Reflecting Diversity in Early San Diego

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park celebrates the historic diversity of California. The ethnic families of Early San Diego include Native American Tribes, Mexicans, Spaniards, Portuguese, Cubans, Peruvians, English, French, Germans, Irish, Filipinos, Chinese, Hawaiians, and more.

What is Your DESD Story?

Descendant families have shared stories, pictures, artifacts, and family treasures with DESD, which aims to preserve these valuable pieces of history. Many families seek to connect missing pieces of their family tree, discovering fascinating details about their lineage, common traits, careers, and talents. Understanding one’s past can significantly influence the development of one’s future. DESD’s goal is to connect members with research opportunities and provide a space for reestablishing family ties while sharing the rich history of San Diego’s early pioneers.

Join the Community

For those interested in sharing their family’s genealogy or conducting research, DESD offers a genealogy website at, where registration is free. To add or correct information about San Diego ancestors, contact DESD at [email protected].

Friends of Descendants

The “DESD Friends” group complements DESD’s efforts by bringing together passionate individuals dedicated to heritage preservation. Friends of Descendants receive updates and invitations to participate in programs, projects, and events.

Staying in Touch

Local members can join various events in Old Town San Diego, Presidio, and Cabrillo. Those living outside San Diego can stay connected via email, Facebook, and the DESD website The annual Descendants celebration has expanded to provide more opportunities for engagement.