Life Boost

Wed, Dec 02, 2020

Uncover Santa Cruz History: The Best Books to Gift

Escape into the pages of some of Santa Cruz County’s greatest stories.

Below you’ll find a roundup of our staff’s favorite publications, hand-picked to make excellent gifts for the budding or veteran historian in your life.

Fall deep into the pages as you get lost in years of research covering a breadth of topics about Santa Cruz County inhabitants, places, events, and activities. Written, researched, and published by The MAH’s Publications Committee, you can shop all our publications online.

Plus, with every publication purchase, you're helping support the MAH! Buying a MAH publication directly supports the museum and helps us maintain our collections, develop new exhibitions, and produce educational resources. It's a win-win!

Note: I send out orders as soon as they come in, but you can reach out with any questions on shipping or inventory at You can also learn more about how to get involved with the MAH’s Publication Committee by visiting:


For the Food Lover:

Harvesting Our Heritage

Inspired by a tattered family recipe book, the local foodies turned authors wondered how early Santa Cruzans ate the food they were growing, raising, and catching. Written by local food lovers this MAH publication offers bite-sized history with the perfect amount of delectable recipes. Offering a taste of local history without leaving you stuffed, this publication will fit perfectly on a coffee table, nightstand, or in use with your flour-dusted kitchen recipe collection.

Buy Harvesting Our Heritage

SWC4 Cover web

For Those Who Love Neighborhood Walks:

The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture

This thirty-year-old classic has been thoroughly revised and updated, reflecting the changes the years (and the Loma Prieta earthquake) have wrought. With more than 480 individual entries (covering both present and demolished structures), nearly 200 photographs, biographies of local architects, a supplemental list of buildings, an extensive bibliography, an index of street addresses, and an extensive and carefully researched main index, The Sidewalk Companion is a great addition to every walk around the block!

Buy The Sidewalk Companion to Santa Cruz Architecture

Names on a map

For the Avid Historian:

Names on the Map

This book tells the fascinating story of the 1889 official map of Santa Cruz County and how it came into being. Known as the “Hatch Map,” it not only shows towns, roads, creeks, and mountains, but also landowners. This gold mine of information for historians and genealogists is fully reproduced here and all the names indexed. The book also includes biographies of the key figures responsible for the map’s creation.

Buy Names on the Map

Do you

For the Budding Historian:

Do You Know My Name?

Get a glimpse into the history of Santa Cruz County through the lives of its people. It tells of Native Americans who came to live at Mission Santa Cruz; of Californios who struggled to keep their land after California became a state; of the young men of color who played baseball here in the early 1900s; of African American preachers who founded early churches in our community; of Japanese Americans from Watsonville who were interned after Pearl Harbor.

Buy Do You Know My Name?

P.S. this book is becoming an exhibition in 2021. Learn more here >>


For the Avid Cyclist:

Pedal Pushers

A century of cycling in Santa Cruz County. From bike design to the communities they've enthralled get to know more about Santa Cruz County's biking movement in this beloved publication.

Buy Pedal Pushers

Split history 1

For the Conservationist:

A Split History

The history of the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods consists of many stories: stories that tell of the thousands of years these aged giants thrived as the Ohlone people managed the landscape; that tell of the settlers who came from afar and saw the seemingly endless forests as a source of profit; that tell of the far-sighted women and men who joined together to preserve groves of these ancient trees. The stories progress to the present day as the split interests of logging and conservation continue to collide.

Buy A Split History