Historian Buffing Up:
Alumnus Considers County Archivist
a Dream Job
From Titan Magazine (Fall 2003)
In a technological world where people around
the globe are becoming “virtual” neighbors, one former
Titan is encouraging us to remember to “think locally.”
“We need connections to the people around us
to be able to work together to solve problems and meet challenges,”
says Phil Brigandi ’87 (B.A. history). “Local history
gives us a sense of place, and that’s important these days.”
Brigandi should know. He was hired in April to serve
as the official Orange County archivist, a position that has been
vacant since the budget woes of the mid-’90s. For someone
interested in local history since fourth grade and already an authority
on county history by his teens, it’s a dream job.
Brigandi is an Orange County native who graduated
from Orange High School in 1977. As a teenager he cultivated his
interest in the county by joining the local historical society and
researching the history of his high school.
Once at Cal State Fullerton, he signed up for a variety
of classes on topics from earthquakes to western American authors.
“If it had anything to do with California, I took it,”
After graduation and a few free-lance research jobs,
he joined the Ramona pageant in Hemet, the longest-running outdoor
play in the United States, as its historian. Moving out of Orange
County was hard, but the chance to make a living as a historian
was too good to pass up. Thirteen years later he’s come home
to the historical Santa Ana courthouse.
Since Brigandi started his job, he’s been trying
to organize and catalog the archives collection. One of the most
interesting documents he’s come across is the Great Register
of Voters, a voter registration list from the turn of the century.
Already the author of several books on local history, Brigandi is
toying with a few other ideas—a book on the citrus industry
or perhaps the origin of names of Orange County places.
In the meantime, he’s relishing his new position
and the rare opportunity for a career as a local historian: “Orange
County is my home, and I’m glad to be back.”
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