ORAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS

The purpose of the Oral History collection is to document the history of Fresno County and the Central Valley region through recorded interviews. In addition to interviews conducted by its own staff and volunteers, the Historical Society accepts donated interviews that enhance its collecting areas. Our staff has offered advice and assistance regarding the practice of oral history to Valley organizations and communities.   

We ask people to tell us their stories and we listen when they do!

 

What is Oral History?

Oral history is the systematic collection and recording of personal memories for historical documentation.  In a sense, it is a form of storytelling that involves eyewitness accounts and reminiscences.  At its best, it recovers and preserves important aspects of human life that would otherwise go undocumented.  And while oral history is not always the best method for collecting statistical data, it far surpasses any other for capturing the significance and meaning associated with people, places and experiences.  In short, an oral history is about the human experience.
Since the 1960s, the Fresno Historical Society has gathered stories that can be used in conjunction with other sources of the past to create as complete and rich a picture of our Valley’s history as possible.

The Historical Society Collects Oral Histories

The Society’s Archives holds nearly 300 oral histories. The interviews cover a wide range of topics, including agriculture, ethnicity, aviation, World War II and local history. The interviews are recorded on audiotape and many include transcripts. 

Stories of first and second generation Valley pioneers were recorded starting in the early 1960s.  Over fifty interviews were obtained in the late 1970s as part of the CETA funded Ethnic Oral History Project.  These oral histories focus on the African American and Mexican American communities in Fresno.

More recent additions to the Historical Society’s oral history collection have been added since the late 1990s when the Society established a permanent oral history program called “Voices of Our Valley.” The latest efforts have included recording interviews with pioneering Central Valley farmers and their families, seeking the stories of local African American laborers, farmers, professional and business people, and exploring the lives of people who lived and worked on the Kearney Estate. The Society has also received copies of collections from other Valley communities, including the “Tulare County During the World War II” oral history project.   

ORAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS

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FRESNO COUNTY 

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COMMUNITY VOICES

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AGRICULTURE

LEARN MORE ABOUT COLLECTING ORAL HISTORIES

Fresno County Historical Society 

Located inside Kearney Park 
7160 West Kearney Boulevard 
Fresno, CA 93706

CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC DUE TO COVID-19

Offices Hours:
Tuesday through Friday 

9:00 AM to 5:00 PM

For general inquiries: 

info@valleyhistory.org

t. 559-441-0862

Kearney Mansion Museum & Gallery

CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC DUE TO COVID-19

Weekend Guided Tours held on
Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays at
1:00 PM, 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM. 

Private Group Tours for ten or more are available with advance reservations.

Closed on select holidays and for exhibition installations.

Weekend Guided Tour schedule is subject to change without notice. 

Archives 

Access to the Fresno County Historical Society Archives is available by appointment only. 

CURRENTLY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC DUE TO COVID-19

Research requests should be emailed to:
archives@valleyhistory.org 
 

Requests may take up to 14 days to process.