As far as the eye can reach it extends, a heaving, swelling sea of green . . . . the whole landscape showed design, like man's nobelist sculptures. How wonderful the power of its beauty! Gazing awestricken, I might have left everything for it.

~ John Muir, 1867

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Fruit of the Valley: Women & Agriculture Exhibit with Fresno State graduate intern Ariel Lopez, May 2018

The Fresno Historical Society Archives has remarkable manuscript and photograph collections. Archivist Katy Hogue conceptualizes, designs and constructs several exhibits each year using the best of our archival collections. Located in cases at Fresno’s City Hall, in the main lobby and in the lobby of the Mayor’s Office, Fresno Historical Society exhibits offer fascinating narratives that explore unique aspects of Fresno County history.

Current Exhibits:

Fruit of the Valley: Women & Agriculture­

This exhibit explores the many roles of women in the San Joaquin Valley's largest economy. A few pioneering women have been farmers and ranchers as early as the 1880s, while many more women have worked hard in industry packing houses and fields. Images of women have also been used to promote agricultural products as the Sun-Maid Girl and on colorful fruit packing labels. Traditional supporting roles of women included participation in beauty pageants such as the Raisin Queen competition, while homemakers turned produce from the fields into healthy meals for their families and prized goods to compete in the county fair. Today, female farmers are a growing force in the agribusiness industry. 

Located in the main lobby of Fresno City Hall, this exhibit was made possible through the research and writing of Fresno State graduate intern Ariel Lopez. Special thanks to Nikiko Masumoto and Ben Sakoguchi for their contributions to this exhibit. 

Bicycle Novelties: Cycling at the Turn-of-the-Century 

This exhibit explores the evolution of the bicycle from the early nineteenth-century through the earliest motorcycles. The first bicycle was patented in 1817. Yet cycling remained a novelty in the U.S. until the 1890s when the dangers of taking a header over the handle bars of an Ordinary penny-farthing bicycle were solved by the new Safety bicycle. By 1894, The New York Daily Tribune noted, "That the bicycle "fad"...has taken a firm hold on fashionable society must certainly accepted without question." As the 1890's progressed, the bicycle transitioned from a curiosity of the rich to a commodity for the masses. For just $75 - $2,000 today - a cyclist could purchase the healthy recreation of the new Safety bicycle. Bicycle owners demanded road improvements to make cycling easier and innovations in bicycle manufacturing lead to the development of the motorcycle and the automobile. Bicycles also provided middle-class women with new opportunities outside their local neighborhoods, which gave rise to the concept of the New Woman. This exhibit traces the history of bicycling in Fresno County through photographs of the Nishkian Cyclery, Nakamura Cyclery and Fowler’s Hom Cyclery.

Located in the lobby of the Mayor’s Office on the second floor of Fresno City Hall, this exhibit was made possible through the research and writing of Fresno State graduate intern Ariel Lopez.


Summer in the Sierra Nevada

This exhibit features the history of recreation in eastern Fresno County. Learn about early auto racing on the Toll House Hill Climb, local summer camps, and the Shaver Lake Fishing Club. From the earliest resorts to Fresno State’s Sierra Summer School, people from throughout the Valley have taken refuge from the summer heat in the mountains. By the 1910s, resorts developed which allowed families to summer in the high sierra for several weeks. In addition to vacationers, lumbermen and their families worked through the summer in cool mountain air.

Located in the main lobby of Fresno City Hall, this exhibit was made possible through the research and writing of Fresno State graduate interns Cameron Scott and Rosalee Mouanoutoua. Special thanks to Tammy Lau and the Special Collections Department of the Henry Madden Library for their contributions to this exhibit. 

Past Exhibits:

The Voyage of the J.R. McDonald

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Over Here – Fresno County during the Great War

Chinese Heritage in Fresno County

See these exhibits digitally on the Fresno Historical Society Archives Flickr page. 

Historic Photograph Reproductions

Interested in purchasing a digital reproduction of an exhibit photograph? Please review our guidelines for Historic Photograph Reproductions.

Last Updated Monday, May 20, 2019 - 05:52 AM.