Arizona Historical Society
|Founded||November 7, 1864|
|Founder||Arizona territorial legislature|
|Purpose||collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the history of Arizona, the West, and Northern Mexico as it pertains to Arizona|
The Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is a non-profit organization whose goal is to collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the history of Arizona, the West, and Northern Mexico as it pertains to Arizona. It does this through 4 regional divisions. Each division has a representative museum. The state-wide divisions are as follows: Southern Arizona Division in Tucson, the Central Arizona Division in Tempe, the Northern Arizona Division in Flagstaff, and the Rio Colorado Division in Yuma. It was founded by the territorial legislature on November 7, 1864.
History of the Historical Society
The Arizona Historical Society was founded as the Society of Arizona Pioneers. With the a new railroad being built and change on its way to Tucson, Arizona, pioneers worried that their stories of battles with the desert heat and the Apaches would be lost forever. The society was founded to preserve these stories and provide charitable service work to the local community. Over time, the Society evolved to provide storage for official state papers and collect the histories of many Arizona citizens. Collections expanded beyond the capacity of facilities several times, until a one block large basement was created to store records and documents. Today the Society maintains several museums in the state with the generous help of over 3000 members and dozens of volunteers.
Exhibits and Collections
The Natural History Collection mostly contains information and artifacts pertaining to mining with more than 21,500 specimens and objects. The size of this collection is due mostly to the aquesition of collections held by the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum, previously maintained by the Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources (ADMMR).
Special Exhibits at the museums include:
The Museum at Papago Park - Desert Cities; Ghosts of Arizona; and Views From the Home Front: Arizona Transformed by WWII.
Downtown Tucson Museum - Exhibits featuring early downtown Tucson businesses including a barbershop and a drugstore.
The Fort Lowell Museum - A Bite to Eat: Feeding the Troops, an event that explores how troops stationed in Arizona have been supplied up until the present day.
The Arizona History Museum - 150 Years of Arizona History, a soon to come special exhibit exploring the sometimes-scandalous history of the Historical Society complete with 150 favorite artifacts selected by Society employees.
Online - John Dillinger; and Arizona Military Forts: an Online Research Tool.
Library and Archives
The Arizona Historical Society currently houses a large collection of published and unpublished historical documents in its library and archives division. The collections are divided among 4 locations in Arizona, with each location specializing in certain aspects of history. The Society lists its collection specialties as follows:
"Tucson Collections Strengths: Territorial era, Southern Arizona and borderlands, business, genealogy, ranching, politics, mining, military, law, non-profit and grass roots organizations, ephemera, photographs, and maps.
Tempe Collections Strengths: 20th Century, Maricopa County and Central Arizona, oral histories, architectural drawings, TV news reels, aviation, banking, healthcare, business, non-profit organizations, arts and culture, photographs and photographic studios.
Yuma Collections Strengths: Territorial era to 1940s, Western Arizona, oral histories, agriculture, genealogy, military, local organizations, education, church history, early transportation (railroad, steamboats, plank road), aviation, business, Lower Colorado River, irrigation, Yuma Prison, and photographs.
Flagstaff Collections Strengths: Territorial era to 1950s, Northern Arizona and Colorado Plateau, business, politics, law, lumber industry, railroads, genealogy, local organizations, Indian Pow Wow records, education, healthcare, maps, oral histories and photographs."
AHS libraries are staffed by knowledgeable librarians who can aid in professional research or answer general research questions at the research help desk.
The Journal of Arizona History
The Historical Society publishes a quarterly journal. The journal is issued to members, and contains articles about Arizona history. Photo essays and reviews are included along with standard articles. The Historical Society additionally publishes books, a list of which can be found on their website.
- C.L. Sonnichsen, Pioneer Heritage: The first Century of the Arizona Historical Society, Tucson: 1884.
- Arizona Historical Society, Library and Archives
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