Our Mission

The mission of Napa County Historical Society is to discover and keep history alive through exhibits, lectures, and events, as well as research, publications, and educational activities. We are a membership-based archival and educational organization dedicated to the discovery, preservation and presentation of the people and history of Napa County and its place in California history.

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Napa History Tours B2 copy

For a one-time donation, get Napa Valley history in the palm of your hand with these self-guided online tours for biking and walking.

Historical Research

Get started on your local history research project by learning more about Napa history and studying our research guides.

Online Catalogue

Explore thousands of historic photographs, manuscripts, scrapbooks, maps, blueprints, books, and ephemera on Napa County history in our online catalogue.


Contact Us

Get in touch with NCHS.

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Visit our shop to buy books, postcards, photo prints, and more!

Earthquake Updates

The 2014 South Napa Quake threw us for a loop, but we are moving forward thanks to your generous support.

Our Story

Jess and Mary Doud, ca. 1979Napa County Historical Society was founded in May 1948 by locals passionate about preserving local history. In the late 1970s, then Executive Director Jess Doud secured the Goodman Library to house their ever-expanding historical research library, as well as for use in displays, exhibits, and educational programs.

Our active Board of Directors, Executive Director, and Research Librarian keep the organization running, and our corps of volunteers and interns assist with research, cataloguing, and publication. We are a small non-profit sustained by your membership and donations.

Blog Roll

History of Berryessa Valley

What follows is a transcription from a photograph album in the NCHS collections called “The Buildings of Lake Berryessa.” This album was the property of Paul C. Donovan, a park ranger at Lake Berryessa. The document was used for a tour by land and air, possibly on... read more

Guy Fling: George Yount’s Guide

By Marie Bowen Many Napa County historians concede that George Yount first visited Napa Valley in early 1831 guided by Guy Freeman Fling, the man sometimes referred to as the first American to explore the Napa Valley. They traveled over an old Native American trail... read more

The Ride to Creston Station

By Marie Bowen Tracing the California Pacific Railroad (later Southern Pacific) tracks across the 1876 and 1895 “Official Map of Napa County,” one often encounters railroad depots named for nearby residents, past or present:  Buchli, Thompson, Trubody, Bale, and... read more

The Crowey Family

By Lauren Chevlan The story of the Crowey family is one of achievement and lost potential. George Washington “Wash” Crowey was said to have been left on the doorstep of his adopted parents, John and Susannah Hall Garner of Granville, North Carolina in 1812. However,... read more

Ups and Downs of the Napa Valley Opera House

By Ted Tyson Beginning in June 1879, George Crowey and Ellen Hogan commenced designing a new opera house with architect Ira Gilchrist and contractor John Cox. In association with Joseph and Samuel Cather Newsom, they worked out their dream in what was then Napa’s... read more

Harvey Milk Day

by Kilian Fitzgerald Harvey Bernard Milk was born on May 22, 1930 in Woodmere, New York, to a middle class Jewish family. After graduating from Bayshore High School, Milk attended New York State College for Teachers. Graduating in 1951, Milk enlisted in the US Navy... read more

Napa County and the Anti-Chinese League

TW for racist language. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882 and was further amended in subsequent years. The act severely reduced Chinese immigration, especially for women and children. Those who remained in California often worked in agriculture, and there... read more

2016 Napa Valley History Tour

On April 14-16, 2016, Napa County Historical Society hosted its fourth annual Napa Valley History Tour. This year we shook things up a bit with some new sites and activities. On the first day we offered guided tours of the Ackerman Heritage House, formerly known as... read more