Beyond the river stretches the interminable prairie, where the fields of harvested wheat lie wrapped in slumber; . . . . The light stealing upon the broad shadows, first touches the tops of the prairie wagons. . . . Then, making more and more progress, it shines. . . and at last, in full glory of splendor, brings out the yellow of the cultivated fields and the course brown of the sandy soil.

~ Picturesque America, 1872

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Educator Resources

C Street School kindergarten class, c 1905. Photograph by John H Maxwell

The history of the San Joaquin Valley is rooted in the history of California and the American West. Culturally rich and diverse, the story of Fresno County is tied to the history of the land. From the Gold Rush to westward migration and immigration to settlement and agricultural development, local history reflects regional and national trends. The Fresno Historical Society is proud to offer lesson plans, primary resources, and educational field trip opportunities to our local teachers. We hope your students enjoy exploring local history!

Lesson Plans:

Six lessons have been created to help teach aspects of San Joaquin Valley history using the topics of immigration, agriculture, and regional pioneers and pioneer life. These lesson plans are aimed at 3rd, 4th and 8th grade levels. Primary source material from the Fresno Historical Society Archives is featured in the lesson plans including photographs and documents such as census pages, posters and brochures. 

Primary Sources:

We are happy to offer a binder of primary source material for local educators to check out for up to four weeks at a time. Fresno Historical Society Archives - Primary Resources, 1860-1915 is a large binder containing printed images and documents from a variety of archival collections relating to immigration, discrimination, agriculture, water history, migration, and industrialization. Organized in to the subsections listed below, this resource includes an introduction to each collection, as well as general Fresno County history resources. Supplementary material gathered to provide background information and to contextualize the primary sources is available upon request via Google Drive.


  • Conquest of California – Taming the People 
  • Selections from the Millerton Collection relating to Native American and Chinese relations, 1862-1867
  • A. W. Peters Glass Plate Negative Collection - Mono Indian Photographs, 1895-1896

  • Reclaiming the San Joaquin Valley – Modifying the Landscape
  • Colony Farm Photograph and Advertizing Collection, 1870-1900
  • Voyage of the J. R. McDonald steamship on the San Joaquin River, June 11-16, 1911

  • Settlement of the West – Migration & Immigration
  • Charles H. Robinson Family Collection, 1858-1915
  • George Washington Mordecai Research Collection, 1868-1920
  • Immigration Photograph Collection, 1870-1948
  • Paul Hutchinson Glass Plate Negative Collection including images of Fowler’s ethnically diverse community, 1914

  • Harvesting the Sierra Nevada – Use vs. Conservation
  • Gustavus Fagersteen Album, including images of Yosemite Valley taken in the 1880s by an early Yosemite photographer
  • Selections from the Logging Collection, 1880-1915
  • A. W. Peters Glass Plate Negative Collection – Construction of the San Joaquin Electric Company powerhouse, 1895-1896

We hope to have another binder available relating to World War II and mid-twentieth century immigration in late 2019.

Educational Field Trips

Time Travelers Education Days

Time Travelers Education Days, Thursday and Friday, October 18 & 19, 2018, is a living history educational experience, inviting students to face-to-face encounters with the people and circumstances of the American Civil War. Time Travelers helps students recognize what history is and how it touches and shapes their lives. By engaging with the “real people” of the Civil War, students construct a historical narrative they can relate to as they learn about past events and personalities.

Contact Time Travelers Coordinator, Tina Guidry at to be added to the notification email list to ensure receipt of additional information and the registration date as soon as they become available later in the year.  

Kearney Mansion Museum School Tours

Bring your class to learn about the agricultural beginnings of California’s San Joaquin Valley through the story of one of California’s agricultural pioneers, M. Theo Kearney. Tour the 115-year-old Kearney Mansion, which served as the ranch manager’s house and the headquarters for Kearney’s 5,000-acre Fruit Vale estate. Located in historic Kearney Park, it is a perfect setting to have a picnic lunch after our class tour! Experience a one-room school house in the Carriage House Education Center complete with 120-year-old elementary school desks.

Contact Tours & Programs Coordinator, Brittany Marquez at or call the Society office at (559) 441-0862 to schedule your school tour.  

Last Updated Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 05:52 PM.