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Local History

Biographical Index of Fresno and Madera Counties

Local/Regional History

In addition to the books within the Roy J. Woodward Memorial Library of Californiana (search Library Catalog for access to them), the collection also includes a large set of printed materials, pamphlets and periodical articles on various aspects of California in the Woodward Pamphlet file. The Woodward Clippings file contains clippings from local newspapers, ca. 1950s to 1960s. The Woodward Photograph Collection contains many individual photographs, slides and negatives featuring Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley.  The Woodward Postcard Collection includes many scenes in Fresno and some towns in Fresno County as well as in Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Stanislaus and Tulare counties. There is also an in-house index to the regional/local history periodicals to which we subscribe. Called the San Joaquin Valley Index, it is available as part of the card catalogue. Ask at the Special Collections counter for assistance in finding any pamphlets, photographs or periodical literature we may have on your topic. 

We also have a number of manuscript collections dealing with local, regional or California history on a number of topics:



George and Maia Ballis Papers (18.5 linear feet). Papers of the local husband and wife activists and artists for social justice and renewable energy and agriculture. Consists of photographs, slides, negatives, journals, videos, and poetry.

Berge Bulbulian Papers  Papers of a local writer and activist, who was involved in the National Land for People organization and an editorial writer for the Fresno Bee.

Lloyd Carter Papers  Papers of the former UPI reporter and agriculture, laber and water issues activist.

Fresno County Commission on the Status of Women

Mineral King Collection, 1947-1995 (3 linear feet). Pamphlets, newspaper clippings, photographs, letters documenting the struggle of a grass-roots movement, largely led by the Sierra Club, to protect the Mineral King area of the Sequoia National Forest from development by the Walt Disney Company.

National Land for People Collection, 1850-1991 (25 linear feet). Books, letters, reports, maps and miscellaneous publications relating to federal irrigation water use restrictions, especially as it pertained to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

No on C Coalition Records, 1999-2002 (5 linear inches). Documents the opposition to the 2002 extension of Measure C, which raised taxes by half a cent to repair roads and freeways in Fresno County. A coalition of community groups spearheaded this failed effort.

STAND (Sane Transportation Alternatives for Neighborhood Defense) Records, 1985-1996 (2.5 linear feet and audiovisual material). Organizational records of a grass-roots group who opposed the construction of Freeway 168, fought the City of Fresno but ultimately lost.

SunMt. Collection (11.5 linear feet) SunMt. is a non-profit educational organization founded by George and Maia Ballis that consists of a land trust and multimedia production center and serves to educate the public about sustainable living.

Tehipite Chapter of the Sierra Club Records, 1979-2002 (11 linear inches). Administrative records, resource materials and chapter publications dealing with management of the chapter, its activities and the issues that concern their members and their position on those concerns.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), 1965-2004 (11.5 linear feet). Records of the Fresno branch of the international organization dedicated to ending war. 


California Tree Fruit Agreement Collection, 1930-2006 (35.5 linear fee).  Reports and marketing materials related to tree fruit growing in California.

Dickey Family Papers, 1917, 1925-1963 (10 linear inches).  Journals and a diary from a family of farm laborers residing in Raisin City in the early 20th century.

Fresno County Farm Bureau Annual Reports, 1918-1954 (2.25 linear feet). Reports documenting the various activities of the Farm Bureau throughout the county over thirty-six years. Includes annual reports by the Home Department, addressing women’s domestic issues and activities.

Fresno Irrigation Court Documents Collection, 1878-1930 (10 linear inches). Briefs and transcriptions from local irrigation related court cases from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries.

Giffen Inc. records, 1911-2000 (78.25 linear feet). Records of Russell Giffen’s farming operations, primarily Giffen Inc., one of the largest farming operations in the Westlands Water District.

Henry Miller Papers, 1880-1965 (3 linear inches [ 210 letters]). Letters from Miller to Patrick Henry Turner, superintendent of the new Columbia Division of Miller & Lux Ranches, near Dos Palos, Merced County, giving detailed instruction on the management of Miller & Lux properties.

Basil Prior Papers, 1894-1956, 1979-1980 (5 linear feet). Mainly diaries and account books of Englishman Basil Prior, detailing daily life on his citrus farm, Las Palmas Ranch, in Lindsay from the 1890s to the mid-1950s. Also includes many photographs, loose and in albums, of Prior and his extended family.

Enoch A. Smith Papers, 1861-1912 (2.5 linear inches). Diaries, letters, notebooks, and receipts relating to cattle ranching in the Fresno area, ca. 1861 to 1901.

John Suglian Collection, 1919, 1951-1955, 2000 (.25 linear inches).  Artifacts and biographical information related to a local immigrant farmer and rancher. 


Reel Pride Collection, 1989- 2019, (1.25 linear inches). Program guides, newspapers, and flyers related to the Fresno Reel Pride LGBTQ Film Festival. 

Crime and Law Enforcement

Robert Chittenden Collection, 1893-1934 (7.5 linear inches). Photographs, correspondence and case files pertaining to crimes committed in Fresno County from 1907-1910, when Robert Chittenden served as sheriff.

Thomas J. Mooney Collection, 1917-1918 (5 linear inches). Mostly legal documents describing the famous trial that falsely convicted and imprisoned Mooney for bombing a parade in San Francisco.

Ethnic Groups

Vernon Brooks Papers, 1912-1985 (5 linear inches). Material relating to the Baptist Auberry Mission Church on Mono Indian property.

Violet Kazue de Cristoforo Papers, 1934-2007 (5.25 linear feet).  Personal experiences of a Japanese-American internee during World War II, and her poetry published about her experiences later in life.

Geoffrey Gamble Papers, 1908-1996 (18.5 linear feet). Research materials from Gamble's Native American linguistics work, specifically on the Wikchamni people. Also includes research materials from John P. Harrington. Gamble's Wikchamni dictionary is available at

Hmong Resource Materials Collection, 1983-1994 (6 linear inches).  Bibliographies, articles, newsletters and guides to the Hmong language, culture and arts.

JACL-CCDC Japanese American Oral History Collection, 1998-2005 (39 DVDs). A collection of 36 videotaped interviews with Japanese Americans (primarily Nisei) in the San Joaquin Valley. Funded by the Japanese Americans Citizens League (JACL), the oral histories were initiated by the late Izumi Taniguchi, a retired professor of Economics at California State University, Fresno. The JACL-CCDC oral histories can be accessed online through our San Joaquin Valley Japanese Americans in World War II digitized collection.

Japanese Americans in World War II Collection, 1920-1995, (1 linear foot). Newsletters produced in internment camps, pamphlets, newspapers, and photographs relating the experiences of Japanese American internees during World War II, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. Also includes official documents issued by the U.S. government declaring the official stance. The Japanese Americans in World War II photographs, newsletters and other publications can be accessed online through our San Joaquin Valley Japanese Americans in World War II digitized collection.  For additional information and resources, please see our Japanese Americans in World War II Resource Guide.

Yuen Lew Papers, (6 linear inches, 1910-1921). Business records and correspondence of a Chinese merchant in Fresno. All the materials are in Chinese.

Molarsky Mono Indian collection, 1936, 1967-1981 (1.75 linear feet). Oral histories, songs and lectures by and about Mono Indians from North Fork and Auberry.  The oral histories have been digitized through the California Audivisual Preservation Project (CAVPP) and are available on the Internet Archive.

Walter E. Pollock Papers, 1942-1955, 1966-1985, 1995 (1.75 linear feet).  Research and writings relating to the Japanese-American incarceration during World War II.

TOMO Foundation Collection, 1942-1945 (9 linear inches). Newsletters and circulars produced in World War II Japanese internment camps and assembly centers in California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and Wyoming. Includes sixty-three official photographs of Japanese Americans in camps and other locations, commissioned by the War Relocation Authority. The TOMO Foundation photographs can be accessed online through our San Joaquin Valley Japanese Americans in World War II digitized collection.


Joseph Creem Papers, 1928-1943 (1 linear foot). Letters, telegrams, and business forms of a Fresno labor contractor and negotiator in the 1930s to 1940s. Creem supplied labor during the construction of Friant Dam in the early 1940s.

San Joaquin Valley Farm Labor Collection, 1947-1974 (2 linear feet). A comprehensive subject collection on Cesar Chavez, the farm labor movement, and the 1966 Delano grape strike. Includes a bibliography and most of the articles it cites.

Table Grape Growers Negotiating Committee, 1965-1987 (3 linear feet). Scrapbooks with newspaper clippings, pamphlets and correspondence dealing with the Table Grape Growers opposition to labor unions in the San Joaquin and Coachella Valleys. 

Local Businesses and Businesspeople

Central Lumber Company Records, (20 linear feet). Business records of an early lumber company in the formative years of Hanford, California, 1896-1971.

Lawrence Cone Papers, 1913-1983 (2.25 linear feet and 1,136 architectural drawings). Fresno’s first Armenian architect, Cone (born Condrajian in Istanbul) designed many private residences, commercial buildings and churches in California and various parts of the country. The collection is comprised mostly of architectural renderings and blueprints.

Roslyn Dienstein Papers.  Materials related to Roslyn Dienstein's law career.

Fresno Bee Collection, 1922-2007 (13.5 linear inches).  Recollections, photographs and other materials from journalists and staff of the Fresno Bee newspaper.

Gottshalks Collection, 1987-1991 (3 linear feet).  Records of the Fresno department store chain.

Hanford Hardware Company Records, (15 linear feet). Business files of a family-owned company, 1912-1960.

Doris Hicks Collection, 1917-1973 (.25 linear inches).  Photographs and biographical information about one of Fresno's earliest female dentists.

Leon S. Peters Papers, 1919-2009 (7 linear feet).  Personal papers from the well-known, longtime Fresno philanthropist whose community work reached far and wide though was most notable at Community Hospital and at California State University, Fresno.  Also includes scrapbooks of photographs and mementos documenting his extensive world travels with his wife, Alice Peters.

Pete Peters Papers, 1980-2010 (1 linear inch).  Manuscript materials from the local businessman who carried on his brother Leon S. Peters legacy of community involvement and giving.

Thomas E. Risley Papers, 1900-1935 (9 linear inches). The personal papers and some business records of a prominent, socially active, civic-minded Fresno businessman and property owner. 

Local Families, Settlers and Personalities

Firebaugh, Burnett and Maxwell Family's Papers

Jack R. Goddard, Jr. collection, 1981-2001, (3 linear inches).  Oral histories, transcriptions and photographs of life in Fresno in the 1930s-1950s from the perspective of a son of a local journalist.

Martin Theodore Kearney Papers, 1865-1906, (9 linear inches). Photocopies of letters, diaries, newspaper clippings as well as the microfilmed personal diaries and address books of Kearney, a Fresno County land developer and grape grower. Also documents the development of Chateau Fresno, Kearney’s proposed estate, now where Kearney Mansion is located. No photocopying of these materials is permitted. The originals reside at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley.

Kneeland Family Papers, 1820-1987 (11.75 linear feet). Letters, diaries and other materials relating to Socialism, the Kneeland Family and their life on Black Mountain near Prather, California after they left the Topolobampo Colony in Mexico. Much material on the flora and fauna of the area.

Kneeland Family Photographs List

McLane/Harris Family Papers, 1865-1963 (4.25 linear feet). Diaries, letters, scrapbooks and photographs from the McLane, Best, Harris, and Boggs families in Fresno. Includes documents from Charles L. McLane, CSUF’s first president.

McLane/Harris Family Papers Photographs List

Rollin Pickford Papers, 1941-2009 (25.5 linear inches).  Journals of the Fresno area artist.

Dr. Chester Rowell Papers, 1888-1912 (9 linear inches).  Papers of the early Fresno physician, mayor, state senator and founder of the Fresno Republican.

Chester Harvey Rowell Papers, 1882-1940 (1.25 linear feet [334 letters]). Mostly personal correspondence between family members but some of the correspondence deals with Rowell’s work as editor of the Fresno Republican (newspaper) from 1898 to 1920. Also includes letters from Rowell’s uncle and namesake, Dr. Chester Rowell.

Alfred C. Thomas Letters, 1850-1851 (1 linear inch [34 letters]). Photocopies of letters from Thomas, a Gold Rush miner who traveled across the country from Cincinnati, eventually reaching San Francisco and Ophir (Mariposa County).

Woodward Family collection, 1902-2007 (5 linear inches). Photographs, artifacts and an oral history interview relating the history of one of Fresno’s pioneering families.  View the digitized collection.

Sierra Nevada

Orlando Bartholomew Collection.  Material relating to the early 20th Century mountaineer and stream-gauger.

June English Forestry Collection, (ca. 13 linear feet and 144 photographs). A comprehensive index and collection of periodical articles, newspaper clippings, and oral history interviews relating to the history of the Sierra National Forest, 1870 to mid-1980s.

John Lewis Collection, (2.5 linear feet and ca. 50 photographs, 1930s-1980s). Research materials for an unpublished manuscript on the history of the U.S. Forest Service in the Sierra National Forest. Includes correspondence between Lewis and Walter J. Puhn, a former Sierra National Forest Supervisor.

Lutz-Ratliff Huntington Lake History Collection, ca. 1915-1960.  Oral history and photographs describing the history of the Huntington Lake area.

Harry Pidgeon Collection, 1907-1989 (3.75 linear feet and 645 glass negatives). Photographic archive of photographer Harry Pidgeon documenting the lumbering activities of the Sugar Pine area, Madera County, and the social life of the lumbermen, ca. 1910 to 1918. The Harry Pidgeon photos are available online through our Harry Pidgeon digitized collection.

Eugene Allen Rose Collection, 1850-2012 (7 linear feet).  Collection of materials related to Rose's research for his books and articles on the Sierra Nevada and the San Joaquin Valley.

Edward Steen Collection, (6 linear inches).  Scrapbook detailing the process of stream gauging in the Sierra Nevada mountains in the 1920s-1930s. 


Lloyd Carter Papers (80 linear feet). Materials related to water issues collected by Carter, a former Fresno Bee reporter and President of the California Save Our Streams Council.

Fresno Irrigation Court Documents Collection, 1878-1930 (10 linear inches). Briefs and transcriptions from local irrigation related court cases from the late 19th through the early 20th centuries.

William Hammond Hall Reports, 1854-1885 (6 linear inches). Photocopies of mostly irrigation reports on areas in the San Joaquin Valley by state engineer William Hammond Hall. Originals held at the archives of the California Water Resources Department in Sacramento.

Rank v. Krug collection, 1947-1967 (9 linear feet). Records from the case between landowners and the federal Bureau of Reclamation on riparian rights along the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam. 


Central California War Veterans Oral History Collection, 2010. Interviews conducted by Fresno State students with Valley veterans from World War II through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hammer Field Collection, 1942-1945 (3 linear inches).  Newspaper articles and photographs related to the World War II Army Air Corps base, which later became Fresno Yosemite International Airport.  The photographs are available online in the Hammer Field digitized collection.

United States Submarine Veterans of World War II, Fresno Chapter Collection, (1 linear inch).  Materials relating to the construction of the memorial for submarine veterans on the Fresno State campus. 

General Local History

The Academy Records, 1935-2000 (3 linear feet). Meeting minutes, correspondence and topical papers of prominent Fresnans who belonged to The Academy, the discussion group Thomas Risley founded in 1935. To access the papers presented by members of The Academy online click here.

Christopher Beaver Collection,  Documentary film related to the San Joaquin River.

Central Valley Cookbook Collection, 1960-2011 (1.6 linear feet).  Cookbooks, both published and unpublished, written by local authors and organizations and detailing local recipes.

June English Local History Collection, 1847-1991, (15.5 linear feet and 102 photographs). Books, typescripts, research notes, newspaper clippings, oral history tapes and transcripts, maps and photographs relating to the history of Fresno and Madera Counties and the adjacent Sierra Nevada Mountains, ca. 1850 to 1984.

Fig Garden Women's Club, 1904-2015 (21 linear feet).  books, scrapbooks, photographs, artifacts and papers of the Fresno area women's club founded in 1921.

John McEwen Hardcastle Collection, 1935-1990 (8.7 linear feet).  Manuscript materials, photographs and ephemera relating to the history of Fresno.

Local Boxers Collection.  Material related to early pugilists in Fresno.

Parties for the Parkway Collection, 1993-2012 (5 linear inches). Schedules for parties sponsored by and benefitting the San Joaquin River Parkway Trust.

San Francisco 1906 Earthquake and Fire Collection, (.5 linear inch). Accounts of the “Great Conflagration” in original San Francisco newspapers of the time and oversize panoramic views of the city printed in the San Francisco Examiner. Also includes some contemporary, retrospective looks at the disaster, a magazine devoted to the event and a personal letter from an anonymous person to his mother, describing in detail his experiences during the crisis.

San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Records, 1937-2012 (4.6 linear feet).  Photo albums, scrapbooks, bylaws and contracts created by the Town Hall organization detailing their history of bringing in influential and important speakers to the valley to discuss various topics of the day.

Harold G. Schutt Collection, 1846-1994 (25 linear feet). Letters, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and ca. 2500 photographs relating to the history of Tulare County with emphasis on the town of Lindsay, the Lindsay Ripe Olive Company and the olive industry, as well as lumbering in the Sequoia National Forest, ca. 1870 to 1975.

Ernestine Winchell Typescripts, 1922-1932 (10.5 linear inches). Photocopies of typescripts for articles Winchell wrote for the Fresno Republican, an early Fresno newspaper. Mostly about local residents with some about places and topics of local interest. There is an in-house subject card file index available.