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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Paul Hutchinson Collection of Fowler, California

  • <b>Caption:</b> A Japanese business in Fowler, California, circa 1914. Paul Hutchinson Photograph Collection, glass negative Plate 337, Fresno Historical Society Archives. <br/>
  • <b>Caption:</b> Plate 334<br/>
  • <b>Caption:</b> Plate 273<br/>
  • <b>Caption:</b> Plate 46<br/>
  • <b>Caption:</b> Plate 75<br/>
  • <b>Caption:</b> Plate 7<br/>


The 337 glass negative images of the Paul Hutchinson Collection capture the essence of the Fresno County town of Fowler circa 1914. The photographs document the people, businesses, homes and street scenes of this farming community. Of particular note are the images showing the African American and Japanese communities. As Russell C. Fey, a Fresno professor who studied the photos and wrote an analysis of the collection, stated: “This collection reflects the nature of that community as few known photographers have done in any community in the San Joaquin Valley.”

It was the dedicated efforts of two women’s organizations that preserved the glass plates and subsequently brought this collection to life for research and exhibit use. The plates were given to the Fowler Improvement Association by Paul Hutchinson, and the Association donated these images to the Historical Society Archives in 1970. In 1981 the Society’s La Paloma Guild funded archival housing (archival boxes and a 3T archival envelope for each plate), production of 5x7 film negatives from the glass negative plates, and a research print of each image.

The majority of the photographs in this collection are unidentified. If you have any information on the photos shown here or feel you may be of assistance in identifying the Fowler images, please contact us at

 Learn more about the town of Fowler and the Hutchinson Collection from the following sources.

 “The Hutchinson Collection: More Questions Than Answers,” by Russell C. Fey, Fresno Past & Present, The Journal of the Fresno City and County Historical Society, Volume 24, Numbers 3-4, Fall/Winter, 1982.

 “The Life and Times of ‘Honest Tom’ Fowler,” by Randall J. McFarland, Fresno Past & Present, The Journal of the Fresno City and County Historical Society, Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2004-2005.

 Village on the Prairie: the Story of Fowler’s First 100 Years, by Jon R. (Randy) McFarland, 1972.

Last Updated Sunday, February 16, 2020 - 04:27 PM.