It's a land in which we often impose our dreams. This notion of vastness, . . . this notion of unknown empty spaces in which you can project then all kinds of images, all kinds of dreams and aspirations onto the land.

~ Alex Sargoza, A Land Between Rivers, 2006

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Donating to the Collections

Studio Portrait, Unidentified Woman, Circa 1885. Photographer: E.R. Higgins.Fresno Historical Society Archives


Join the Effort to Save Our Valley History!

Since its founding in 1919, the Historical Society has been committed to building a research repository that holds primary source material that helps tell the diverse story of the San Joaquin Valley. Most of our collections are dated between 1848 and 1960, which include the pioneer days of the late nineteenth century through the development of Fresno County and the City of Fresno in the early twentieth century. Our strongest collections are from civic and community leaders, as well as businesses and organizations.

Society members and friends play an essential role in expanding the Archives’ resources and always have.  For example, over the past many months a number of significant collections have found their way to the Society’s Archives thanks to the generosity of a number of individuals and families in the region, including: 


  • Records of the All-Slavonic American Association (est. 1904)
  • Collection of over 3,000 California/national agricultural journals and magazines
  • Jack Stone Photograph Collection (donor’s photographs, over 300 images with a focus on agricultural development of the Valley’s West Side, digitized by Society staff and volunteers)
  • Vartanian Family Papers (early Armenian family in Fresno), part of the Frank Caglia Collection. 


Over the years individuals have also provided funding to help preserve and make available particular collections, including: 


  • The 1860 Fresno County Census
  • The Edward Smith Diary, an account of Smith’s 1848 overland journey to California
  • William Harvey Family Manuscript Collection (donor was a great grand-daughter of Fresno pioneer William Harvey)
  • Family collections, photographs collections, and records of women’s clubs and civic organizations (donor was The Fresno Historical Society’s La Paloma Guild)

Celebrate our Cultural Diversity

To complement our existing collections, we are currently seeking donations that tell the stories of the diverse ethnic groups of early Fresno County. We are interested in personal and family papers, buisness and organizational records, and photographs from any of the mosaic of cultures that helped to settle the central San Joaquin Valley in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The inclusion of these collections will broaden our Archives and help to preserve our cultural heritage. 

Donating a Collection

If you have historical material you would like to discuss donating to the Fresno Historical Society Archives we would very much like to hear from you.  However, the Society cannot accept unsolicited donations through the mail or in person. Please call the Society office at 559.441.0862 or send an email to If sending an email, please provide a photograph of the material if possibile. All donations are subject to review by the Collections Committee. 

Funding a Collection’s Project

We also hope you will get in touch with us if you would like to underwrite a special Collection’s project. We have a wish list we would be happy to share - a list with a number of different types of items including: 


  • Archival supplies to house the YWCA, Ted C, Wills, Karen Humphrey, and Mabelle Selland Collections

  • Electronic equipment that would help facilitate our efforts to digitize the Archive collections  as well as continue to reach out to Valley communities  to capture and preserve the images of the Valley’s people and their history


Last Updated Monday, July 24, 2017 - 11:15 AM.