Community and family members come together to celebrate ‘Patricia A. Schaelchlin Day’ in La Jolla
The late historical researcher’s donation of books and research materials makes up a large part of the La Jolla/Riford Library’s History Room.
“What an example she is to all of us,” Anne Dring said of her mother, late historical researcher Patricia Schaelchlin, at the inaugural “Patricia A. Schaelchlin Day” celebration July 7.
About 50 people, including about 16 of Schaelchlin’s family members from around the country, gathered for the event at the La Jolla/Riford Library, to which Schaelchlin donated her enormous collection of books and research materials before her death in 2006. Those materials now make up a large part of the library’s History Room.
But Schaelchlin undertook several preservation projects while in La Jolla, working for several historical organizations, archiving materials and establishing protective spaces for designated buildings.
“Patricia was always curious and pursuing history, learning, understanding and safeguarding and ever interested in sharing her interest and research with others,” Dring said.
“Today would have been Patricia Schaelchlin’s 99th birthday,” La Jolla youth services librarian Katia Graham said. “Her influence transcends generations.”
Graham, along with others from the La Jolla/Riford Library and its nonprofit support group, Friends of La Jolla Library, planned the celebration to honor Schaelchlin’s contributions to La Jolla and beyond.
The History Room, which usually operates on an appointment-only basis, will be fully staffed and open every July 7 in Schaelchlin’s honor, said San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones.
Schaelchlin “left a lasting legacy, not only in La Jolla but all of San Diego,” Jones said. “That’s a testament to her ability to bring community together.”
The Schaelchlin Day event was a “very public moment here in terms of what it means to La Jolla,” said San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla.
What’s important to the city of San Diego “is the individuals that give of themselves not only on a day-to-day basis but leave a legacy behind that we can all celebrate,” he said.
LaCava then issued the family a proclamation declaring July 7 “Patricia A. Schaelchlin Day” in San Diego. “We are better for [her contributions] and we are eternally grateful,” he said.
The celebration gave Schaelchlin’s family “an opportunity to … really take stock of what an exceptional person she was,” Dring said. “As we remember many of Patricia’s significant achievements and recognize her wide range of interests, we are also proud to remember her as a wonderful mother. She was a homemaker who, along with our dad, raised three kids and later was a special part of the lives of six grandchildren.”
While raising her children, Schaelchlin went back to school to obtain a master’s degree in anthropology and wrote her thesis on the diaries of early La Jollan Anson Mills, who received the second telephone ever installed in La Jolla.
“Her careful interpretation of his diaries provides a rich capsule of the life of an everyday La Jollan in the early years of the 20th century,” Dring said.
In the spirit of her mother’s drive to share her research, Dring said the celebration was a “natural and perfect opportunity” to donate the original manuscript of Schaelchlin’s thesis to the library.
“This is where it belongs,” Dring said. ◆
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