Press Room

2008-03 Pioneer women portrayed at Docent Council.pdf
2008-03 Historical Museum unveils Hispanic artistic heritage exhibition.pdf
2008-02 Lions club grant release.pdf
2008-02 County black history told at Docent Council.pdf
2008-01 Museum Docents to learn about Germans from Russia.pdf
2008-01 Howser release.pdf
2007-11 Joaquin County Historical Museum celebrates Christmas with Festival of Trees.pdf
2007-09 Museum hosts historic preservation workshop.pdf
2007-09 Gold Fever at San Joaquin County Historical Museum.pdf
2007-05 Precious Cargo exhibit opens at San Joaquin County Historical Museum.pdf
2007-04 Volunteer release edit.pdf
2007-03 San Joaquin County Historical Museum celebrates Springtime on the Farm.pdf
2006-12 Release - New Museum Director.pdf
2006-06 Sparks in the Park set for July 1 ,2006.pdf

Featured Activities Archive
The Critter Corral farm animals will be back on May 5!
The Critter Corral farm animals will be back on May 5!

Visit and pet these farm animals on Saturdays and Sundays beginning May 5, 2018 all summer from 10 a.m. to 3.  Encounters with the animals are free with REGULAR Museum admission.  Adults ($5); Seniors 65+ or teens age 13 to 17 ($4); children age 6 to 12 ($2) and Historical Society members and children 5 & under are free. The Critter Corral will be open on weekends through August 26th.


Expanded Native Peoples Gallery
Expanded Native Peoples Gallery

On August 21, 2015, the expanded Native Peoples Gallery opened. There is a Caring for the Land mural with information about how Native nations carefully managed local landscapes. Exhibit cases displaying baskets and other artifacts include videos showing traditional basket and tule house making, acorn preparation, and deer hunting, etc. There is also a video of swimming salmon. 

In the second room, sit on a circular wooden bench and listen to three recorded stories. In one recording Glen Villa, Jr. (Northern Miwok/Plains Miwok) tells about the First People and a traditional creation narrative. Another recording is of a traditional Yokuts story, told by Sylvia Ross (Chukchansi Yokuts). The third recording tells of the Indian freedom fighters led by Estanislao, for whom the Stanislaus River and County were named. A cannon barrel of the type used by the Mexican army in battles against the Indians is displayed. There is a hands-on activity for younger visitors, and a large mural of an Indian man and woman bedside a lush riverside. The Homelands mural is a photo-mosaic made up of more than 7,000 small photos, which depict important plants, animals, landscapes, and so on.

The expanded Native Peoples Gallery was funded by the Nature Education Facilities Program, created by the 2006 Clean Water Bond Act, and with donations in memory of Richard Beecher Salmon.

All New Settlers Exhibit and the Morse-Bewley Pioneers Gallery dedicated February 8, 2015
All New Settlers Exhibit and the Morse-Bewley Pioneers Gallery dedicated February 8, 2015


A new permanent exhibition tells the story of the early American settlers of the region, families who came after the Gold Rush to build farms and futures in San Joaquin County. “The Historical Society was extremely fortunate to be able to use the Elliott family as an example of the early settlers. They came from their tallgrass prairie homestead in Illinois to San Joaquin County in 1859,” says David Stuart, director of the museum. “Their descendants preserved one of the six wagons that made up the Elliott family wagon train; it has been restored as the centerpiece of the exhibition.”

The exhibition draws extensively from the diaries of two Elliott sisters who recorded their experiences on the five-month, 2,500-mile trek across the continent. Eva Elliott Morse, 25, and Maria Elliott, 22, documented the drudgery, emotions, hazards, and hardships of their journey on the California Trail. The Settlers exhibition uses quotes from Eva and Maria to tell the story of the overland emigration on a large map of the route, in artifact labels, in a flip book of “Wonders of the West,” and even in audio messages.

“What makes the audio passages from the diaries even more special,” says Stuart, “is that Eva’s and Maria’s words were given voice by Eva’s great great granddaughter and great great great granddaughter.”

The Elliott and Morse families put down roots here in the heartland. The diary writers’ father farmed in San Joaquin County, as did their husbands and all but one of their four brothers. Family members are credited with planting the first Tokay grapes in the area in 1892 and the Morse farmhouse still stands and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Eva’s son, Edmund Morse, was a community leader around the turn of the twentieth century. One of Maria Elliott Norton’s sons was the public administrator of San Joaquin County, a district attorney, and a Superior Court judge in Stockton. Maria’s and Eva’s younger brother, Charles Elliott, served as the auditor and county recorder of San Joaquin County.

The Settlers exhibition was made possible by support from Eva Elliott Morse’s great granddaughter, the late Marilyn Roberts Bewley, and her husband Dr. Ross Bewley. The area of the museum has been designated the Morse-Bewley Pioneers Gallery in honor of Mrs. Bewley.

Grant Project Will Update Many of Museum’s Exhibits
Grant Project Will Update Many of Museum’s Exhibits

The Strategic Plan approved by the Board of Trustees of the Historical Society in early 2011 stated that: “In recent years the [Society] properly focused on policy development, artifact conservation, and bringing the 18.5-acre Museum grounds and facilities to standards. With those areas initially addressed, more emphasis [will] be placed on updating the long-term exhibits at the Museum.”

The San Joaquin County Historical Museum was fully re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums in the summer of 2011—keeping it among the four percent of Californian and American Museums fully accredited by AAM. Since then, in accordance with our Strategic Plan, the Historical Society Board, staff, and volunteers have focused much more attention on long-term exhibits.

About the time we concluded the re-accreditation effort last year, the Historical Society was notified that it was one of forty-four entities to be awarded a grant from the Nature Education Facilities Program, created by the Prop. 84 water bond of 2006 and administered by State Parks. This message provides an update on that project as of October 2012.

The half-million dollar grant project has four main components: (1) new exhibits at the Museum entrance to provide orientation to the County’s natural features and setting; (2) an updated and expanded Native Peoples gallery in the Erickson Building; (3) updated audio messages, graphics, etc. along the Sunshine Trail living exhibition of native plants and habitats; and (4) development of a new Delta/water walkway around the existing “Weber” pond.

After an extensive search, the Historical Society selected The Sibbett Group, headquartered in Sausalito, to guide this exhibit planning and design. The planning process kicked off with “stakeholders” meetings in March and the development of the broad conceptual understandings of the project. Design Development (AKA preliminary design) followed and a detailed Visitor Experience Outline was produced. The Outline notes the historical themes and topics for each exhibit in the four main project components, as well as suggested interpretive media (audio messages, graphic and text panels, artifact-based exhibits, hands-on exhibits, video programs, hand-held “visitor guides,” etc.). A second “stakeholders” meeting in mid-September verified that the process was on the right track.

We have just begun the Final Design phase for the project exhibits. We anticipate having exhibit blueprints completed in the late summer of 2014, after which the exhibit fabricator will build the exhibits. We hope to have all the new exhibits installed by winter 2015..

Parallel to the exhibit planning and design process, the Historical Society went through another selection process and selected Diamond Crane Company of Diamond Springs to construct a new windmill to aerate the pond (and help us tell Museum visitors how important windmills were in this region). Other pieces of the project will include installation of new walkways, planting of additional specimen plants in the Sunshine Trail and the pond, and installation of new benches and other infrastructure.

Stay tuned for future updates….

Festival of Trees
Festival of Trees

On December 6 and 7, 2014 the Museum's Docent Council presented the 23rd annual Festival of Trees event at the Museum.  All proceeds supported the Museum's educational programs and services..

Randy Sparks and The New Christy Mistrels
Randy Sparks and The New Christy Mistrels

Randy Sparks, founder and director of The New Christy Minstrels, had for several years given a benefit concert for the San Joaquin County Historical Society. On Friday, July 25, 2014, the benefit concert will   feature a social hour and a delicious New York steak dinner,followed by the concert with Randy and The New Christy Minstrels..  . Thanks to Randy and to all The New Christy Minstrels! The photo album are photos from the 2001 concert.

Vintage Car Show at Museum
Vintage Car Show at Museum

The Museum Docent Council organized a vintage (1970 or earlier) car show at the Museum on Saturday, June 18, 2011. Proceeds from the event benefited the "Raise the Barn" campaign to build an education building at the Museum. In addition to the antique and hot rod cars, visitors enjoyed music, games, a crafts boutique, and food by Royce's Farms BBQ. Two late 1950s micro-cars were popular with the kids, as they were the basis for the character Luigi in the Pixar animated movie "Cars" and Professor Z in "Cars 2" (released this summer). 

Stockton Sunrise Rotary Event
Stockton Sunrise Rotary Event

 The Stockton Sunrise Rotary Club held its 26th Annual Wine and Food Tasting event at the Museum on Friday, June 3, 2011. About 800 people enjoyed an evening of live music, wine poured by two dozen wineries, and food from nearly as many restaurants. The club’s fundraising event included a silent auction and a wine auction. The Stockton Sunrise Rotary Club supports more than 50 local charities and nonprofit organizations (see It's a pleasure for the San Joaquin County Historical Society to host this event at the Museum.

Star Party at the Museum
Star Party at the Museum

Saturday evening, October 16, 2010, the Museum hosted the Stockton Astronomical Society's "Star Party."  Four hundred visitors enjoyed star shows in two indoor portable planetariums, illustrated lectures on NASA, programs on the phases of the moon, kids' crafts, and--when the clouds allowed--viewing through telescopes. 

Rehab of Sunshine Trail
Rehab of Sunshine Trail

The San Joaquin County Historical Society partnered with the nonprofit group Tree Lodi in a proposal to the Lodi Lions Club. We were guided by the original designer of the Sunshine Trail exhibition, Mike Schneider. Our project was selected as the Lodi Lions Club community improvement project—the “Lions Love Lodi Excellence in Community Service Grant”—for 2008. The project is the first phase in rehabilitating the Sunshine Trail living exhibition.

The Sunshine Trail is a unique educational and recreational resource—a loop trail that passes through plants representing life zones in a transect across California, from the Redwood Coast, through the Valley, and into the Foothills and the Sierra. The exhibition was initiated and championed by Soroptimist International of Lodi and was planted 25 years ago. The trees have matured and recent years of deferred maintenance had taken their toll.

In June 2008, tree crews from Grover Tree Service removed a number of large hazardous trees. They also completed the high-level removal of deadwood, thinning/weight reduction, and the removal of many smaller trees that were shaded out. The technical tree work was funded by the Lodi Lions grant.

Work crews from Lodi Lions Club and Tree Lodi removed thousands of invasive Privet trees—from seedlings to large trees that had to be felled by chainsaw—and did lower-level clean-up. This will allow Museum staff to access and repair the irrigation system. Eventually, many of the lower-story specimens that had been shaded or crowded out will be replanted.

The financial planning firm Drummond & Hickingbottom has assisted by encouraging gifts to an endowment for ongoing Sunshine Trail maintenance.

Plein-air Art Camp
Plein-air Art Camp

In June 2008, students from Tracy (2), Franklin, McNair, Lincoln (2), St Mary’s, Tokay, and Lodi high schools attended a Plein-air Art Camp at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum. En plein aire in French means painting in the fresh air. Plein-air painting has come to mean representational painting done from real life in nature. It is a national and worldwide movement that has significant roots in San Joaquin County. The Haggin Museum in Stockton has taken an active role in promoting plein-air painting and the Plein-air Art Camp at the Museum was an outgrown of the Plein-air Painters of America exhibition at The Haggin last fall and winter.

The students were assigned full sets of equipment and materials, and received instruction from renowned local artist Gil Dellinger. They did “studio work” in the Museum multi-purpose room, painted outside at locations within the Museum grounds and at the Japanese Garden (in Micke Grove Regional Park), and took a field trip to The Haggin Museum. The students progressed through a series of exercises to develop their skills. For example they started with the development of ability to see and interpret values from photographs, then moved on to interpret the same values from natures, and finally explored how to turn those value studies into accurate color studies.

The San Joaquin County Historical Society plans to offer additional art camps at the Museum in the future.

Designation of the Fresno Scraper as an Engineering Landmark
Designation of the Fresno Scraper as an Engineering Landmark

On March 26, 2011, in a ceremony at the Museum, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designated the Fresno Scraper as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Following a welcome by Claude Brown, P.E., the President of the San Joaquin County Historical Society, and Chad Johnson, P.E., Chair of the Mt. Diablo Section of ASME, Richard Pawliger, P.E., the Chair of the ASME Committee on History and Heritage, explained the landmark program, which has named about 250 noteworthy engineering breakthroughs.

William Adams, Jr., P.E. (retired), summarized the importance of the Fresno Scraper, developed in the San Joaquin Valley in the late 1880s. The horse-drawn device was used to build irrigation ditches and level farmland for irrigation. It later was used throughout the world, including in the construction of the Panama Canal and the early levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It was the forerunner of virtually all subsequent earthmoving implements.

The ASME landmark plaque was unveiled and presented by past ASME president Robert Nickel, P.E., to Larry Ruhstaller, chair of the County Board of Supervisors, and Ken Vogel, Supervisor, County of San Joaquin.

David Stuart, Executive Director of the Historical Society and Museum, introduced the exhibition on earthmoving equipment now being developed at the Museum. He invited the 65 attendees to visit a "preview" of the exhibition in the Brown-Jones Building and to see the 1919 Holt 75 Caterpillar Tractor being restored by volunteers in the Museum's restoration workshop in the Hammer Building.