History San José preserves and enriches the cultural heritage of San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley through research, collections, partnerships, educational programs and events. History San José is Silicon Valley’s largest and most comprehensive historical organization. We preserve and make available to scholars, teachers, researchers and the general public one of the largest and most comprehensive regional history collections in the state of California.
As part of our mission to “celebrate the stories of diversity and innovation in San José and the Santa Clara Valley,” collections are utilized in rotating exhibits at History Park in San José, as well as satellite exhibits at San José City Hall and other County locations. Our museum collection brings together a variety of objects, including Native American artifacts, Spanish/Mexican Era artifacts, furniture, household items, costumes and textiles, personal items, toys, vehicles, agricultural equipment, canning machinery, art, tools, and objects from the technology industry. The Research Library and Archives include more than 5,000 linear feet of archival records and manuscripts, architectural drawings and specifications, maps, oral histories, audio and film materials, and books, as well as a photographic collection of over 30,000 images documenting the breadth of Santa Clara Valley history.
HSJ preserves the Valley’s material culture, actively engaging the community in original research to share with a world-wide audience. We provide access to research through archives, social media, exhibitions and educational programs. We offer resources and assistance to anyone wishing to research local history, including artists, students, reporters, film makers, designers, business, government and you!
Our partnerships enrich and inform all of our programming, and make it relevant: Academic Film Archive of North America, African American Heritage House, Bay Area Glass Institute, California Pioneers of Santa Clara County, California Trolley & Railroad Corporation, Chinese Historical & Cultural Project, Connie L. Lurie College of Education Assoc., Epic Immersive, Digital Clubhouse Network, Immigrant Resettlement and Cultural Center, Inc., Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, Poetry Center San Jose, Portraits of the Past, Portuguese Heritage Society of California, Rotary Club of San Jose, San Jose Fire Museum, San Jose Printers Guild, Schmahl Science Workshop, Silicon Valley Shakespeare and Spirit of ’45.
We serve more than 24,000 elementary age students in Santa Clara Valley, Fremont, Santa Cruz and the Peninsula. HSJ offers theme-based school programs highlighting local history that are closely linked with Common Core State Standards and new College, and Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies. Our field trips utilize object-based lessons and hands-on activities designed to teach students core competencies required for 21st century life, including empathizing, critical thinking, self-directed learning and collaborating. We also offer internship opportunities for college and graduate students.
Our events focus on programming that results in active inter-generational engagement, enjoyment, and learning through a combination of hands-on crafts, storytelling, cultural performances and family-friendly, inquiry-based tours and experiences.
History Park offers an expansive, outdoor, gated facility with 14 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. This charming, historic town setting is complete with paved streets, running trolleys, mature trees and ambiance like no other place in the Bay Area. Two rooms are also available for meetings or receptions.
Fallon House & Garden
The Carmel and Thomas Fallon House is a jewel in the heart of downtown San José. The site is located across the street from the San Pedro Square Market, on the corner of San Pedro and West St. John Streets.
The Victorian Gardens at the Fallon House offer a lovely, undiscovered retreat from the urban hustle and bustle. Meeting rooms are available in the Fallon House.
Period exhibits include a doctor’s office, a dentist’s office (complete with an old foot-pedal-powered drill), fruit barn (packing shed), blacksmith shed, a livery stable (US terminology for a business that rented out horse-drawn carriages), a working print shop, a gas station, the Pacific Hotel, the Empire Fire House, the Bank of Italy (precursor to the Bank of America), a one-room schoolhouse, a post office and a number of houses of early Santa Clara Valley settlers. The fruit barn not only has many farm implements and devices from the period, but also displays hundreds of photographs documenting the area’s development. It also includes a collection of fruit picker wooden “box ends” from the families and companies of fruit growers from the Valley’s history.
Other attractions include:
A 115-foot scale replica of the San Jose Electric Light Tower that used to tower 237 feet over downtown San Jose
Portuguese Historical Museum
Ng Shing Gung, a former Chinatown religious and community center that is now a museum of local Chinese-American history
Paulson House, an 1890s Queen Anne-style residence with local history exhibits from the California Pioneers of Santa Clara County
Hellenic Heritage Museum, a museum of Greek heritage, operated by the Hellenic Heritage Institute
The California Trolley and Railroad Corporation houses and operates restored antique trolleys, both horse-drawn and electric, and automobiles, both gasoline and battery powered, along with other antique trolleys and cars awaiting restoration.
The Leonard and David McKay Gallery, opened on March 13, 2005, contains a collection of paintings of people, buildings, and landscapes from in and around San Jose.
The Perham Collection of Early Electronics, previously at Foothills Electronics Museum.
Steam locomotive Southern Pacific 1215 and tender in a static display.
Weekdays, tours are offered by paid staff, often for local students on class field trips. On weekends, selected exhibit buildings are staffed on a rotating schedule by volunteers, who also operate a vintage trolley over the length of the park, including under the Light Tower replica.