Thursday, November 4, 2010

Researching History

Let's say you have a question about local history, such as: What was life in Hollister like in 1937 when your grandparents were kids?  What businesses operated on San Benito Street 50 years ago? or Who founded the town of Hollister?

How and where do you begin researching your question?

Probably the best source in town for Hollister and San Benito County history is the research room at the San Benito County Historical Museum (also known as the Wapple House Museum) on Fifth Street, next to the county library.  How many guessed that was where the brown door lead to in this week's Tuesday in Hollister?

Take it from me, the research room holds a gold mine of facts and figures about local people, places, events, and other matters.  The last time I was there, I learned that:
  • Jacob Watson was the first American to settle in Hollister in 1854
  • in 1880, the population in Hollister was 1,181 and in 1960, it was 15,396
  • in 1916-17, the principal county roads from Hollister were the Balsa (that's how it was spelled), Bird Creek Road, Fairview Road, San Juan Road, Santa Ana Road, and Tres Pinos Road.

Both the research room and museum are under the direction of the San Benito County Historical Society.  The research room holds a a collection of business directories, family histories, assessment rolls, property records, incarceration information, educational registrations, school year books, and local history books, among other resources. It also carries copies of the Hollister Free Lance and Hollister Advance from years past.

The research room is open to the public once a month—every second Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For a small fee, you can make an appointment to use the facility on another day. For more details, visit the historical society Web site and click on the "Research" tab. 

Sheila, Research Room Curator


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