We had come to this dry area . . . and we had paused in it and built our houses and we were slowly creating the legend of our life. We were digging for water and we were leading streams through the dry land. We were planting and ploughing and standing in the midst of the garden that we were making.

~ William Saroyan

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Our Mission

The Sam Wing Chee family of Fresno, c. 1900. Photographer: E.R. Higgins, Rembrandt Studio, Fresno.
Unidentified Fresno woman, c. 1885. Photographer: E.R. Higgins.

Most of what the Fresno Historical Society does is connected with Valley stories -  locating them, piecing them together, preserving them, and sharing them.  Why?


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 people have succeeded and how they failed. 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.

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 theater - 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.

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.

The Society’s mission statement reads as follows: 

  • To collect, preserve, interpret and hold in public trust the records and artifacts that document the history of all the people of Fresno County and the Central Valley region of California;

  • To provide the community with educational opportunities through excellence in programs, exhibitions and use of its collections; and


  • To encourage and promote the preservation and conservation of the community's historic and cultural resources.
Last Updated Friday, January 30, 2015 - 09:48 AM.