History San José manages the City of San Jose’s historic collection as part of its contract with the City. The seismically retrofitted, climate-controlled Collection Center is located in the City of San Jose’s Central Services Yard.
Collections & Exhibitions Team
Ken Middlebrook – Curator of Collections
Cate Mills – Curator of Library & Archives (includes photographs & audiovisual material)
Katrina Anderson – Collections Associate
Search the Collection
We are increasing the number of records and images available online on a weekly basis. In addition, audiovisual content is available through YouTube and the Internet Archive. Search now.
Artifacts document the lives of the diverse inhabitants and the history of the institutions of the Santa Clara Valley. The collection brings together locally-made Native American artifacts, Spanish/Mexican Era artifacts, furniture, household items, costumes and textiles, personal items, toys, vehicles, agricultural equipment, canning machinery, art, tools, and technology. Artifacts are complemented and documented by material in the Museum’s Library and Archives. Major collections include:
- The Perham Collection of Early Electronics
- Frances Dainty & Co. Collection
- Knapp Plow Collection
- Soccer Legacy Collection
- Steffi Abbott Sims Collection
- “Trader Lou” Collection
- Southern Lumber Collection
- Orchard Supply Hardware Collection
The collection comprises over 70,000 images on glass-plate negatives, daguerreotypes, tintypes, and albumen prints, as well as modern formats, from the San José Chamber of Commerce, local freelance press photographers, early portrait artists (such as the eccentric Astley D. M. Cooper), and personal family albums of Santa Clara Valley citizens. Search for images in our online catalog. Notable series include:
- Rare portraits (salted paper prints) by Carlton Watkins
- Photographs by Alice Hare, one of a handful of female photographers working in Santa Clara County at the turn of the 20th century
- Photographs of Big Basin Redwoods Park taken by local photographer Andrew P. Hill
- Images of post-War San Jose by commercial photographer Shirlie Montgomery
- Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) cannery equipment sales/marketing photographs (1919-1978)
Research Library and Archives
In addition to the Photograph Collection, the Research Library and Archives holds more than 5,000 linear feet of archival records and manuscripts, architectural drawings and specifications, maps, oral histories, audiovisual materials, sheet music, and books documenting the history of Santa Clara Valley from 1777 to the present. Included are the records of the Pueblo of San José (founded 1777), the oldest municipal records in the state.
Historic and Reconstructed Buildings
The Peralta Adobe-Fallon House Historic Site is located in the center of the San Pedro Square Market in the historic heart of San José, and includes the original 1797 Peralta Adobe and 1855 Thomas Fallon House.
History Park represents San José’s past through 32 original and reconstructed historic buildings, many relocated to the 14-acre Park to prevent their demolition. History San José partners and affiliates conduct programs at the buildings, bringing to life the diverse stories of Santa Clara Valley.
Donations to the Collection
History San José is a collecting institution and welcomes donations that reflect our mission. Please visit our Donations page for guidelines.