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The Sacramento Historical Society was originally formed in August of 1941 as the Sacramento County Historical Society to rescue, purchase and preserve Gold Rush relics and documents associated with the Bank of D.O. Mills.

Former Sacramento 1926-27 Mayor A.E. Goddard, and F. F. Thomson, both of the Thomson-Diggs Company, became Historical Society President and Vice-President, and were joined by Mrs. Harry S. Wanzer as Secretary Treasurer.

On August 8th, 1941 Federal Judge Michael J. Roche recognizing the newly legally registered society, signed an order permitting the sale of some 150 relics and records, comprising the D.O. Mills collection, to the Sacramento County Historical Society for $100. The Society then tendered its historic collection gift to the California State Library. Just a few months later Pearl Harbor was attacked, California went onto a war footing effort, and the Society, and its members faded away.

After the post war founding of Sacramento State, coincident to the long awaited, and promising February opening of the new campus, in April of 1953, Dr. Joseph A. McGowan, Professor of History made an inspiring presentation to the Sacramento Book Collectors Club, extending an invitation for a formation meeting of a new County Historical Society at the Sacramento State Library.

On May 28, 1953, 29 interested parties (22 from the Book Collectors Club) came together agreeing to incorporate the organization as a non-profit organization with Dr. McGowan as President, and conducting the meetings on the 4th Thursday of each month.

It was extraordinarily historic that the first speaker at the first Historical Society meeting on September 24, 1953 was “iconic” 92 year old Sacramento native, Judge Peter J. Shields, formerly secretary of the State Agricultural Society, whose 1905 vision and perseverance is credited with establishing the “University Farm” in what was then Davisville, that opened in October, 1908. Judge Shields began championing the cause of a University Farm to teach agriculture after learning that California students were going to out-of-state universities to pursue such an education.

The organization was formed to accomplish four objectives:

  • To preserve the historical heritage of the Sacramento region with an emphasis on Sacramento County;

  • To promote a greater awareness of our regional history;

  • To act as a resource for inquiries regarding local area history;

  • To educate the public with regard to the importance of Sacramento’s History.


In the spirit of these objectives, we aspire to share our regional heritage from the classroom to the boardroom, elevating and showcasing our shared history in California and the Nation. Together, we can all make a difference through projects and programs that proudly educate all of us in the value of learning about where we’ve been, in understanding where we are going toward building a brighter future.

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