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Fresno County Genealogical Society

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Overview

Recorded here is a glimpse into the history of the Society and how it has become such an integral part of the Fresno County Library system, as well as Fresno County itself. The Society and Library has a longstanding written agreement attesting to the fact that we have a symbiotic relationship which benefits both the County and the Society. We are pleased to share the following information, and pictures of the Society Library as it is today in 2014.

Books In the Trunk of a Car?

The Society was established in 1965 as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with the Society library in the trunk of Charter Member, Bobbie Badger's car. The library traveled to hospitality rooms of businesses, school auditoriums, the Family History Center on Echo Street, and to members' homes—wherever meetings were being held.

Space of Our Own

By 1968, the Society had secured a space in the basement of the Main Branch of the Fresno County Public Library for our genealogy books and monthly meetings. Members continued to work diligently, hopeful to eventually obtain more space. In 1993, we moved to the second floor of the library. In 2013, the San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center evolved on the second floor as a cooperative effort of the Fresno County Public Library and the Fresno County Genealogical Society. Renovation and re-organization by the Fresno County Librarian updated the Heritage Room to a better lighted, easier-to-explore, comfortable Heritage Center.

Main Research Room in the San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center.

Since moving upstairs in 1993, the Society's holdings have grown from about 60 books to over 12,000. The Society also has periodicals, CDs, microfiche, microfilm, computer, printer, Obituary file, and much more. A partial list can be seen on the Library Resources Page

Main Research Room in The San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center.

The San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center is staffed by County employees and Fresno County Genealogy Society Volunteers. We have been very fortunate to have had a dedicated Society Librarian by the name of Mary Lou Talens since we moved upstairs in 1993. Due to her diligence, the Society Library has thrived and increased in size. Mary Lou retired in 2012. Kathleen Coleman replaced Mary Lou as the current librarian. Already, Kathleen has proved to be a talented and dedicated librarian in her efforts. We are grateful for the hours she expends on behalf of the Society. There has always been an Associate Librarian to help. Kay Brimhall held that position from 2003 to the end of 2010. Zelda Dubel has been in charge of the periodicals for many years and has done a fantastic job, as have so many other dedicated Society volunteers who have worked in the San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center.

Linda Sitterding was the first Librarian in charge of the San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center. She was succeeded by Ray Silvia in 1999; and he, in turn, was succeeded by Historian/Author, William B. Secrest, Jr. in 2005. Nance Espinosa became the current Librarian in charge in August 2011. Senior Library Assistant, Melissa Scroggins, has been on staff and a great asset in the Heritage Center since 2000; and Chris Her, Chris Her began work in the Heritage Center in 2011 as Senior Library Assistant.

The Genealogy Collection is well organized in sections according to the Dewey Decimal System. Bookshelves now have guides to direct customers to specific local, state, national and international records.
Group Biography Family Histories (Autobiographical/Biographical)
Heraldry Church History
Ethnic Groups Census Indexes
Atlases Colonial
Military Passenger and Immigration Records
Mayflower Native American Indian
U.S.A. (Sections for each State) International (Sections for individual Countries)
New England "How to" books on genealogy
Vital Records Daughters of the American Revolution
FCGS Cemetery Projects Transcripts of Fresno County Cemeteries


This is part of the Mayflower section. The Society Library has all 23 Volumes which are a record of the Descendants of Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, in December 1620. They are referred to as the "Silver Books."

Mayflower Families through Five Generations

This vital records section has numerous volumes containing birth, marriages, and death records to 1850 which have been published according to Towns in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850

The Military Section is comprised of volumes and sets of Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, WWI, and WWII. Depicted here are just a few of the Civil War volumes. There are many volumes from Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) in the military section.

Civil War Books

The Society's extensive Obituary File is only partially shown here, and it holds approximately 254,000 obituaries. Filling the drawers in alphabetical order are index cards on which Society volunteers have diligently cut and pasted the obituaries for many years.
Fresno County Genealogical

In addition, there are Fresno City and County newspaper collections on microfilm, yearbook collection, and CDs covering state and country records. There are computers for your use in research with free access to the library edition of ancestry.com. A copy machine is available at a moderate cost.

Computers Available

The San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center on the second floor of the Fresno County Central Library has the reputation of being the best and most extensive genealogy library between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Its holdings include genealogy books, related history books covering all the states and many countries, and local and California history—all providing a broad and sourced research experience for customers using the room. The large genealogy collection belonging to the Fresno County Genealogical Society is complemented by two other genealogy collections: that of the Fresno County Public Library and the California State Daughters of the American Revolution Library, donated to the County Library in 2009. Overall, there are approximately 21,000 books and periodicals in the Heritage Room, and there is always someone there to help. We encourage you to stop by the second floor of the Fresno County Central Library,browse and do a little research whenever you have time.

Current hours for the San Joaquin Valley Heritage & Genealogy Center are:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday 12 N - 5 p.m.


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Fresno County Genealogical Society, P.O.Box 1429, Fresno, CA, 93716-1429
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