Orange County historian and Tustin resident James Sleeper was honored by the
Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society for a lifetime of achievement on
Tuesday. Sleeper is the author of numerous books, including “The Orange
County Almanac of Historic Oddities.” Sleeper is often quoted by local
writers and reporters as a source for information on Orange County’s birth
“I do have an affinity for newspapers
especially when they call me 10 minutes before deadline to fill in some
blank,” Sleeper said.
Guy Ball, a Society board member, said
Sleeper is a great role model for budding historians. “It was time for us to
recognize the amazing knowledge Jim has and the generosity he has in helping
others with that information.”
Q: How does it feel to be given a
lifetime achievement award?
Old. They’re honoring me for being old.
I’ll survive the experience. It goes with the territory, I suppose, being
the alleged reigning Orange County historian.
Q: How did you become a historian for
I started out being a writer of short
stories, but by the time I got out of college all the magazines that
published short stories folded. So having been a classical literature major,
history was on the other side of the coin.
Obviously, I am a writer and a
researcher and to fulfill both of those it was logical that I would pursue
local history as I was growing up here. I am fourth generation on one side
(of my family) and third generation on the other in Orange County. I always
had an interest (in history) as my family was reasonably prominent. My
origins are all here.
Q: What are some interesting tidbits
about Tustin’s history?
Tustin is really the nicest of the small
towns in Orange County, and as other areas filled up Tustin inherited many
of the old-time families, ranch families particularly. Tustin was pretty
much agrarian-oriented, like most other cities, until after the close of
World War II. It has many interesting people and character.