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Javier Servin

Episode 163

Howser in the SGV

Javier Servin AKA Foo Howser is a dude that loves the rich and diverse history of California and wants to get others excited about it as well. His passion for California history was sparked by watching Huell Howser and by the amazing history teachers he had growing up. He earned a B.A. in History from UC Merced, where he wrote his thesis on the life and rebellion of Estanislao of the Lakisamni Yokuts of the San Joaquin Valley. He earned an M.A. in Moving Image Archive Studies form UCLA and currently works as an archivist in Hollywood. He is a first-generation Mexican immigrant and has the vaccine scar to prove it.

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Javier Servin Takeaways

Passion for Local History

Javier Servin, known as “Foo Howser,” greets the world with a profound passion for local history particularly focused on California. His belief is that travel isn’t necessary to uncover rich historical narratives, as intriguing stories lie hidden in one’s own city. This passion was ignited in the fourth grade with a school project on California missions, through which he learned about the Chumash people. His discovery that indigenous history existed right in his backyard sparked his lifelong interest in the history of California.

Inspired by Huell Howser

Javier’s style and approach to documenting history are deeply inspired by Huell Howser, a renowned figure in California history television. He has watched every single episode of Howser’s shows, which span across different programs and topics. Howser’s ability to make even the seemingly mundane aspects of history fascinating greatly influenced Javier. He emphasizes tangible, contemporary history that people today can visit and experience. By visiting and documenting historical sites, Javier feels he is keeping Howser’s legacy and spirit alive, making history accessible and engaging for a modern audience.

Educational Background and Expertise

Javier’s academic achievements bolster his role as a historian. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from UC Merced, with a special focus on California history, and a master’s degree in moving image archive studies from UCLA. His professional experience as an archivist, where he manages and preserves digital media for a Hollywood studio, gives him a comprehensive skill set in research and archiving. This background equips him to tackle historical topics with depth and accuracy, ensuring that his content is well-researched and reliable.

Use of Social Media for Storytelling

Leveraging social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, Javier creates short, engaging videos that bring historical narratives to life. His videos are often concise, offering digestible bits of history that are easily accessible to a broad audience. The feedback he receives from viewers highlights the positive impact of his work, as many express newfound pride in their local communities. By utilizing these platforms, Javier reaches a wide audience, promoting historical awareness and encouraging people to explore the history around them.

Support from Family

Javier credits much of his success to the unwavering support of his wife, who acts as his camerawoman and biggest encourager. Her suggestion to turn his insightful historical musings into shareable content was the catalyst for what has become Californiography. This family support system not only aids in the technical production of his works but also serves as an emotional backbone. Together, they navigate various historical sites, doing the research and legwork required to produce informative and engaging content.

Future Plans and Expansion

Looking ahead, Javier plans to broaden his scope beyond Southern California to cover other regions such as San Diego and the Central Valley. He aims to delve into less commonly known historical sites and stories, bringing them into the spotlight. Upcoming projects include a detailed look into local chains like Baker’s Drive-Thru. His future content will continue to unearth the rich historical tapestry of California, providing his audience with deeper insights and encouraging explorations of their state’s heritage. Javier’s meticulous research and dedication ensure that each story he tells is both informative and captivating, sustaining the viewer’s interest in local history.

“I want to get people excited about their own history.”

– Here, Javier emphasizes his goal to make local history accessible and interesting to the general public, highlighting the importance of discovering historical stories within one’s own city.


“California is our backyard.”

– He often says this to encapsulate the idea that significant historical sites and stories are closer than people might think, encouraging exploration and learning.


“Inspired by Huell Howser, I’m keeping his spirit alive.”

– Javier’s mission is to continue the legacy of California’s beloved historian, maintaining the same enthusiasm and approachability that Huell Howser brought to historical storytelling.


“My wife Ellie… she’s my greatest supporter.”

– This quote underscores the essential support he receives from his wife, who helps him behind the scenes with his projects.


“I love the fact that the Rose Parade was started to rub California’s great weather in the face of their family and friends back East.”

– Javier’s anecdote about the origins of the Rose Parade reflects his love for the quirky and competitive spirit embedded in California’s history.


Music Credits

Like it Loud, Dyalla, YouTube Audio Library

Scarlet Fire (Sting), Otis McDonald, YouTube Audio Library

Indecision, Dyalla, YouTube Audio Library

Picture of Javier Servin

Javier Servin

The Rose Parade

Javier appreciates the Rose Parade for its historical roots, initiated by East Coast transplants to showcase California’s excellent winter weather to their friends and family back east. This tradition aligns with his passion for local history and community pride.

Mary’s Market in Sierra Madre

A historic eatery initially a meat market, now a beloved breakfast spot in Sierra Madre. Javier enjoys its history and ambiance, combined with its excellent food offerings like eggs benedict and coffee.

In-N-Out in Baldwin Park

He values its significance as the starting point of the now-iconic fast-food chain. Javier appreciates the replica of the original stand, which serves as a reminder of the chain’s humble beginnings and its impact on California culture.