The Washington Township Museum of Local History began in 1994 with the collections from two historical groups whose history spanned over 100 years, Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and Washington Township Historical Society. Since this time the Museum has acquired many other valuable collections. A summary of these collections include the following:
Research Library/Archival Files
The Research Library and Archival Files include a non-circulating reference center and is cataloged through the PastPerfect Program and available to research during public hours or by appointment.
The Museum Library and Research and Archival Files
include books on local and California history, both rare volumes and recent publications, yearbooks, newspapers, original documents, news clips, research notes, maps, blueprints and other original items associated with Washington Township History.
The Museum has thousands of original and scanned images of historical photographs from several collections. Come to the museum to research and request images. Attached is our Image Use Policy with associated charges. Below is a list of a few of our collections.
- Robert B. Fisher, MD Photo Collection*
- City of Fremont Collection
- Judge Durham Collection
- Stanford Collection – Book of winery and home photos
*Online Archives includes selected photos from the Robert B. Fisher Collection. The plan is to continue to expand this online library and to include samples from other collections.
Our artifact collections are much larger than what can be displayed in the museum that include many unusual one-of-a-kind items. Occasionally we will display or post items from the various collections. Listed are a few collections which contain unique artifacts.
- Gomes Collection
- Museum Exhibits
Audio/Video and Oral History Collections
The museum has a large collection of oral histories and talks, audio taped, video-taped and/or summarized/transcribed. Below is a sample of our collections, and the online locations. Many of our interviews are on the museum YouTube Channel for updates: Historical Society of Fremont, Newark and Union City.
BJ Bunting — In this exteneded interview BJ talks about the Bunting and Overacker families settling in the area. Niles at the time of the depression, going to school, neighbors and working. Niles Elementary school, Railroad, WWII and the Merchant Marines, Railroad work, volunteer deputy reserve.
Anita Deppner — Part 1: Anita Deppner was born and raised in Niles and lives in the family home today. She talks about her family being Mexican and how it was difficult for her father to purchase a house in an area of the town that did not welcome “Mexicans” or people of “other” ethnicities. Part 2: Anita talks about growing up in Niles and about all the fun places her and her brothers enjoyed as children and as teenagers. Part 3: She remembers Elderberry Park, Garden of Allah, teen dances at the Veteran’s hall, cutting apricots with family and going to Logan high school, as a part of the first class that attended all four years at the new high school. Part 4: Anita tells about how she returned to school at Ohlone and her work life and retirement. She ends with a story about her former counselor, Guy Emanuele.
Sandy Guderyon — Part 1: Sandy Lewis and her parents came to Niles when she was in the third grade in 1948. Sandy describes living in small town Niles. She talks about playing with friends and walking to downtown for all essentials. She was a “mill” kid because her dad worked for the American Forge Company next to Pacific State Steel Company. Sandy talks about the movies, Joe’s Corner and Mellos Restaurant. Part 2: Sandy continues to talk about growing up in Niles after they moved to Morrison Canyon Road. She tells how she met her husband and work while in high school and about principal “Pop” Goold. Sandy married and moved away then returned with her family to Morrison Canyon Road. She had many fond memories and friends from her life in Niles.
Thelma Jones and Lorraine Harland — The Frates sisters, Thelma (Jones) and Lorraine (Harlan) grew up in Niles with their maternal grandmother, Carrie Martin. They talk about their Portuguese heritage and growing up in this small community with many aunts, uncles and cousins and life-long friends. They have fond memories of the many relatives who lived near Niles, the Saturday movies, the businesses on Main street and going to Niles grammar school. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Art Kimber — Part 1: Art Kimber was born and raised in Niles. His father and mother founded the Kimber Farms a poultry breeding business that gained international recognition in the 1940s-1960s. Art talks about his parents and brother, John, and growing up in Niles. Art also flew bombers during WWII. After the war art returned to work in the poultry business and various capacities. Art also enjoys music ad did his father.
Laura Pessagno and Joan Lopez — Part 1: Laura and her daughter talk about family and friends and living in Niles. Laura talks about the Passagno family and their business. Their children, Janet and Joan went to various schools. Part 2: There were other Italians living in the area. Janet and Joan both married, lived and worked in the area. Janet married Harry Avila, owner of the Rexall Pharmacy in Niles and Joan married Allen Lopez whose family owned the Niles Flower Shop. Both daughters raised their families in Niles. The Passagnos were very active in the Washington Township Hospital in many capacities from working in the service league to organizing fundraisers to having their family members as patients in the hospital. Part 3: Joan talks about the Lopez family and the Niles Flower shop. Then Laura and Joan talk about living in Niles during WWII, the flood of 1956, the Niles Flea Market, Big Daddy’s and Elderberry Park
Roby Pierce — Roby Pierce moved from Mississippi to Niles when he was 18 years. After WWII (1945) and three years in the Navy, Roby moved to Niles where he married, worked and lived until his death in 2017. He talks about life in Niles, his marriage, and life at the Pacific State Steel mill where he operated the hand mill and cut steel from the hot bed. Roby was 93 years old when. Part 1, Part 2
Dan Rodarte — Part 1: Dan was born in Niles and he talks about how his family came and lived in the “barrio”. Dan talks about family and friends growing up in Niles. Part 2: He worked from the time he was in grade school cutting apricots to working at a gas station. He earned money to buy a car and went to Oakland tech and Laney College to become an airplane mechanic. Part 3: Dan joined the army and served for two years. He married and had a family. Dan remembers the connections to people he had from living in Niles.
Marian Speno — Part 1: Marian (Henple) Speno moved to Niles with her family when she was in seventh grade. Marion talks about her family during and after WWII and growing up in Berkeley, and in Livermore before they moved to Niles where her father was the head gardener for the famous International Kitchen Restaurant and Pottery Shop. Part 2: Marian continues to talk about going to high school and having adventures with friends in Niles. She tells of snakes and friendships at Washington high school. She won the competition to become Miss Washington Township in 1955 and married in 1956.
Susanne and David Turner — Susanne and David Turner are both long-time residents of Niles and their family histories in the Tri-City area go back many generations. They discuss their family histories, growing up in Niles and marrying and making a home in the town they love, Niles. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Carol Zilli — Carol’s Zilli was born and has lived in Niles her whole life. She talks about her family, the DiGiulios who came to Niles in the early 1900s. They owned the Pontiac garage business. Carol recounts the Niles flood of 1955 and talks about family and friends growing up in Niles. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Audio Interviews – California Audiovisual Preservation Project
List of sixty-nine audio tapes and one movie that include interviews and talks presented between 1950-1990. The quality is not always the best, but you may recognize the names of some of the “old timers.” Many of the tapes were recorded and collected by two of our most prominent historians, Dr. Robert Fisher and Philip Holmes. For a quality sample, listen to Raymond Copeland or Margaret Overacker, as they tell stories of days gone by. Enjoy! View or listen at archive.org.
- Alphabetical list of all Audio/Video/Oral History Interviews and summaries
- Fremont Stories
- Newark History Collections – summary with categories
- Museum Audio Interviews & Meetings (1950-1990)
- Country Club of Washington Township 50-year Members Interviews – audio tapes and summaries