Were you in North County from the late 1960s to early 2000s? Could you identify places, people?

Former Times Advocate/North County Times photographer Dan Rios
Former Times-Advocate/North County Times photographer Dan Rios (left) donated to California State University San Marcos his archive of photojournalism negatives from 1968 to 2001. He and archivist Laura Nelson (right) sorted through his negatives as part of the cataloging process in 2020. Volunteers are needed to help identify people, places and events in the photos.
(Don Boomer / For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Volunteers sought to identify historical photos in North County from 1968 to 2001 that were taken by newspaper photographer Dan Rios


Volunteers are needed to help identify people, places and events in historical photos taken in North County from the late 1960s to early 2000s that were taken by newspaper photographer Dan Rios.

Rios’ photographs cover 33 years of San Diego history, including an important era in the development of North County.

In addition to covering North County, Rios traveled throughout San Diego County documenting what he saw, including milestones such as the construction of the Coronado bridge and restoration work on landmark buildings in Balboa Park along with everyday life.

Rios, a photographer for the Escondido Times-Advocate and North County Times newspapers from 1968 to 2001, donated his collection of roughly a million photographic negatives to the University Library Special Collections at California State University San Marcos.

Images in the collection, known as the Dan Rios papers, also include negatives from professional staff photographers at the two North County newspapers. Along with the negatives, the collection includes photographic prints, slides, contact sheets and correspondence.

The library estimates about half of the photographs in the collection do not have adequate caption information, such as where the photo was taken, who the people in the picture are and what was happening when the picture was taken.

To fill in these gaps in information, the Escondido Historical Society and Cal State San Marcos library are recruiting volunteers who might be able to recognize some of the historical photos from 1968–2001.

The Cal State San Marcos library is working on scanning 11,000 photographic images and posting them on the Flickr digital media platform, where community members can add comments on the who, what, when and where of these photographs.

The project began last July, and the first batch of images was uploaded to Flickr in August. The project is scheduled to end June 1. To date, 4,480 images have been digitized, 2,477 have been uploaded to Flickr and 905 images have been commented on.

The cost of scanning the images is funded by Cal State San Marcos’ Community Engaged Scholarship initiative to document “the forces, events and people that have influenced the region’s evolution.”

With the community input, the library will update its records, making Rios’ images valuable to future generations, including researchers, students, faculty, genealogists and lifelong learners.

To participate, community members should create a Flickr account. For more information, visit the Dan Rios Photo Identification Project at archives.csusm.edu/identifying-rios-photographs.