You hear the words, Fresno Historical Society, and all sorts of things probably come to mind. And, a great many of those things are probably true.
- We do save things. We’re passionate collectors of things small enough to fit in a file folder, as well as those too big to fit in a room.
- We obsess about taking care of things, including the use of acid free storage boxes and folders as well as the use of gloves when we touch things.
- And we’re old. We were founded in 1919 by Valley pioneers and children of pioneer families, and the vision and commitment of these pioneers still informs what we do.
But what you may not know is why we do what we do.
First, we have a passion for California’s Central Valley and its story. We recognize what is remarkable about one of the five most fertile valleys in the world, and we are committed to preserving the Valley‘s history - the Valley experience.
Second, as we see it, history is a story about people’s lives and how they have lived them.
In these stories we can see how it is that people have succeeded. We can also see what they did when they failed which is probably even more important. We can see what courage looks like, get a sense of what it means to persist, catch a glimpse of what it means to be human and maybe even extraordinary.
So you see, when we look at an object, for example, a Native American basket, a 19th century farm tool, a program or ticket from a performance at an historic theatre, we see a story. When we examine a photograph we see stories about people and places and events. When we walk through older buildings we see stories about the people who designed and built those buildings as well as stories about those who lived and worked in them.
So now you know, we’re stuck on stories. We believe that things, like people, have stories connected to them and we happen to love the hunt - searching for those stories, as well as preserving them and then sharing them.
Third, we believe it is vital that as a community, and a state, we have a sense of where we’ve come from. Our history can play a critical role in informing our decisions if we choose to use it.