Hi! I’m Barbara

I am a native San Franciscan, a scholar of California and the American West, and a historian who bridges the worlds of academic and public history. From my home in the Lost Sierra, on the traditional territory of the Mountain Maidu and Washoe peoples,* I work to make the past relevant, compelling, and accessible.

In 2013 I transitioned out of academia, leaving a tenured faculty position at the University of South Florida, because I realized just how huge the appetite for history was among the general public, and I wanted to have a hand in creating high quality, compelling stories and experiences. I also realized that I could have the broadest impact through public history, taking my work out of the classroom and into the world.

In 2014 I began working as the historian for the Presidio Trust, a federal agency. I was charged with making the history of the Presidio of San Francisco accessible, relevant, and engaging to a widely-diverse public audience. To that end I created an interpretive platform that activated historic sites to tell place-based stories at new locations on its campus; I curated several community-engaged exhibits that won awards; and I developed smart, innovative educational programming for life-long learners.

If you'd like to read more about me, my San Francisco upbringing, and how that influenced my approach to history, feel free to browse the first 5 pages of my book, Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846-1906, at this link.

Come learn with me

Browse The Joy of History events coming up. You are always welcome to drop-in to an ongoing series!

Hang out with a history expert. Read fascinating histories (or just skim and come for discussion!) Interrogate how the world came to be as we find it. There are no stupid questions — we are all here to learn something new.

Current TJOH Book Club:  see the titles

Tickets on Eventbrite:  thejoyofhistory.eventbrite.com

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*If you want to know who the Native peoples were who lived where you live today, check out this map: native-land.ca

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Using the Past to Empower Your Present
Barbara Berglund Sokolov, PhD started The Joy of History in 2020 to foster a community of learning in these historic times we find ourselves living in.