The ground surface is so nearly level that you have no sense of contour. . . . It is not a former lake, although in large part it is a former swamp. Geology characteristically repeats itself around the world and down through time, but---with the possible exceptions of the Chilean Longitudinal Valley and the Dalbandin Trough in Pakistan---the Great Central Valley of California has no counterpart on this planet.

~ John McPhee, Assembling California

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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 Preserve 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. Over the past several 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: 

  • California Dairies Records, including records of Danish Creamery and Challenge Butter, 1902-1995
  • Fresno County American Diabetes Association Records, 1954-1970
  • Eaton Family Collection, 1882-2000
  • YWCA of Fresno Records, 1904-1997

Donating a Collection

We would very much like to hear from you if you have historical material you would like to discuss donating to the Fresno Historical Society Archives. However, the Society cannot accept unsolicited donations through the mail or in person. Please call the Society office at (559) 441-0862 or email with your donation request. Please provide a detailed description of the materials, including photographs if possible. All donations are subject to review by the Collections Committee.

Celebrate Diversity

To complement our existing collections, we are currently seeking donations that tell the stories of diverse ethnic communities of Fresno County. We are interested in personal and family papers, business 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 archival holdings and help to preserve our cultural heritage.

Fund an Archival Project

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 Papers, a pioneer Fresno County land developer
  • Vartanian Family Papers, early Armeniain family in Fresno

Would you like to support the preservation of a particular archival collection? Email to underwrite an archival project. 

We have a wish list we would be happy to share:

  • Archival supplies to house the Ted C. Wills Papers, Karen Humphrey Papers, Mabelle Selland Papers, the New Wrinkles Records or the Eaton Family Collection.
  • A flat-bed scanner, 12x17 in. or larger
  • Software and equipment to digitize and transcribe our Oral History Collection

·         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 Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 11:27 AM.