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San Joaquin Valley Water Collections

Oral Histories

The Water Archive oral history interviews encompass a wide variety of subjects including agriculture, engineering, water politics, the environment, and business.


Image of dam, undated.  George and Maia Ballis collection.

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

Orland Bartholomew Papers (2.5 linear inches).  Materials relating to the early 20th Century snow surveyor, mountaineer and stream-gauger.  Contains maps, photographs, correspondence, and newspaper clippings.

Berge Bulbulian PapersPapers 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(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.

Tony Coelho oral history.  Interviews with the former U.S. Representative about a variety of issues, including several water issues he dealt with during his 10 years in Congress.

Two men on makeshift bridge over river, undated.  June English Forestry collection.

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.

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.

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

Workmen on Shaver Lake Dam during construction, 1893.  Eugene Allen Rose Collection.

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.

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.

Log jam on flume, undated.  Eugene Allen Rose collection.

Claude Laval, Jr. 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.

Charles (Chip) Pashayan, Jr. Papers, (1977-1990). Pashayan was born in 1941 in Fresno. He served as a Republican Representative to the U.S. Congress from 1979-1991. Pashayan donated his papers to Fresno State after leaving Congress in 1991. The collection includes significant material on water and reclamation legislation, and contains photographs, press releases, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and videotapes. The collection is unprocessed.

Man next to flume, circe 1900.  Harry Pidgeon collection.

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.

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.

Farmer standing next to river with irrigation pipe, undated.  Rank vs. Krug collection.

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.

Celebration on dam for Central Valley Project, 1951.  Eugene Allen Rose 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.

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.

B.F. (Bernie) Sisk Papers, (1955-1978). Sisk (1910-1995) was a Democratic Representative to the U.S. Congress from 1955-1979, and was a major force behind the San Luis Water Project, part of the Central Valley Project, and other water and agriculture related legislation. Sisk served on the House Rules Committee and was instrumental in the passage of significant House reforms which resulted in the 1970 Legislative Reorganization Act and the televising of the Watergate hearings. He also was involved in the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The collection includes materials covering the above legislative topics, among others, as well as speeches, newspaper clippings, press materials, subject material, and correspondence. The collection is curently being processed.

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

Sun Mountain, (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.

Map showing location of Friant Dam, undated.  Rank vs. Krug Collection.

Woodward Local History Collections
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.

Kerckhoff Dam, undated.  Woodward collection.