It's a land in which we often impose our dreams. This notion of vastness, . . . this notion of unknown empty spaces in which you can project then all kinds of images, all kinds of dreams and aspirations onto the land.

~ Alex Sargoza, A Land Between Rivers, 2006

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Photograph Collections

Original Daguerreotype and case, Daguerreotype Collection.
Photo by: Fresno Historical Society Archives

The photographs, over 30,000 images, housed in the Fresno Historical Society Archives reflect Fresno County and regional history from the earliest times to the present. The photographs show the growth and development of the Central Valley, its people, agriculture, industries, and communities. The photographs also take us on journeys -- through the eyes of Fresnans we witness trips to California’s mountains, their experiences in war and travels not only in America but around the world. The photographs date from the 1870s to the present.   

The collection includes photographic images in many formats:

  • daguerreotypes
  • ambrotypes
  • tintypes
  • cartes-de-visite
  • cabinet cards
  • cyanotypes
  • film & glass plate negatives
  • panoramas
  • postcards
  • 35mm slides
  • scrapbooks and albums
  • stereographs

The Society’s photography collections are organized into the following categories:

Fresno City
Includes businesses, buildings (including Fresno County Courthouse), churches, disasters, Fresno Fire and Police Departments, districts and neighborhoods, hospitals, landmarks, organizations, parks, theaters, schools, street scenes of Fresno City (1870s-1980s) and other subjects/topics related to the City of Fresno.

Fresno County
The Fresno County Fairs, rabbit drives, the County’s towns and communities (including mountain towns such as Ockenden, Pine Ridge), sheriff’s department, and schools.

Subject headings include: Agriculture (includes images of crops, farm equipment and machinery, packing houses, vineyards, and wineries), Irrigation, Logging Industry, Recreation & Sports, and Counties/Cities/Towns in California.

Portrait Files
Ethnic & Cultural Groups
Family Collections
Group portraits
Pioneers & Leaders

Photograph Albums
The contents of the albums document a wide range of subjects: for example, family snapshots of celebrations and travels, a business recording its building, expansion or employees, or an organization’s pictures of its members and events.

This category contains photographs from:

  • Professional photographers such as R. W. Riggs and A.W. Peters.
  • Individuals who collected photographs depicting a broad range of topics or a specific subject (such as logging or agricultural scenes).
  • Photographs from manuscript collections such as the M. Theo Kearney Collection (images of agriculture, views of Fresno City, people of Fresno County and the Fresno Fire Department Collection.
  • The Paul Hutchinson glass negative collection of the town of Fowler circa 1914.

Highlights from the Collection

Last Updated Sunday, February 23, 2020 - 05:34 PM.