The Washington Township Museum of Local History began in 1994 when the collections from two historical groups with a history spanning over 100+ years (The Mission Peak Heritage Foundation and The Washington Township Historical Society) grew large enough that there was a need for a proper storage facility. 25 years later, we continue to acquire many other valuable collections.
Thanks to the help of many volunteers, some paid staff, and generous donations and grants we continue to catalog and find ways to share these collections. All of this is done in the service of furthering our mission, which is to Preserve Southern Alameda County memories, documents, artifacts, and structures from the past and share them with present and future generations.
The museum has several categories of collections including those specified here:
Through contributions from Niles Rotary as well as the California State Library (via the California Revealed Project) you now have online access to our collections through two exciting ports.
Online – Past Perfect
The first online database operates through the PastPerfect Program. At this time, the database contains mostly photographs.
Online – California Revealed
The second online database operates through Archive.org and the California Revealed website. The items on this website are made available through collaboration between our museum and the California State Library (via the California Revealed Project).
(Please see the Research/Library Collections section below for search suggestions and indexes.)
We invite you to take the time to visit our collections here:
Washington Township Historical Society History Talks
California Nursery Historical Park
Washington Township Historical Society Meeting, September 2021
Discussion on the current and upcoming changes at the California Nursery Historical Park in Niles (Fremont).
Niles: Then and Now
Washington Township Historical Society, November 2021
David Kiehn talks about the history of Niles and shows historical pictures, as well as those same locations as they look today.
History of Alameda Creek Watershed & Fishery
Washington Township Historical Society, January 2022
A two-part presentation from the Alameda Creek Alliance and the Alameda County Water District.
Mission San Jose: Then & Now
Washington Township Historical Society, March 2022
A discussion by Patricia Wipfli-Schaffarczyk on the history of Mission San Jose – in commemoration of the 250th anniversary since the founding on the Mission (1797).
Learn about the African American Cultural and Historical Society
Washington Township Historical Society, July 2022
Jean Ficklin presents on the history and work of the AACHS.
History of the Mexican Tortilla Factory
Washington Township Historical Society, September 2022
Owner, Maria “Sucy” Collazo discusses the history of the family-owned and operated Mexican restaurant with a small grocery store and tortilla manufacturing business, located in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, serving Newark and surrounding communities since 1972.
100 Years of Aelpler Gruppe History
Washington Township Historical Society, January 2023
Patricia Wipfli-Schaffarczyk discusses the history of the Aelpler Gruppe, Swiss Park in Newark, and the history of the Swiss communities in the Tri-City Area.
Chinese Railroad Workers in Washington Township
Washington Township Historical Society, March 2023
Victor Wong gives a presentation on the Chinese railroad workers that built the railroad through Niles Canyon and beyond.
Niles Veterans’ Hall
Washington Township Historical Society, May 2023
Learn about the Veterans Memorial Building in Niles & The American Legion Post 837, by speaker Gil Gonsalves.
Castro Valley History Project
Washington Township Historical Society, July 2023
Learn from author Rick Kelly about his newly published history book: Rancho to Ranch Homes: Mapping the Evolution of Castro Valley, California
Our collections are much larger than what can be displayed in a museum at any given time. We have many unique, one-of-a-kind artifacts from the 1860s to present day. Occasionally we will display or post items from the various collections here.
Audio/Video & Oral History Collections
The museum has many audio and video interviews and recordings. See below for a summary of some of the recordings that are available through this website and/or through our Museum YouTube Channel
If you are interested in conducting local history interviews please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interviews are sometimes conducted around a theme. The interviews below are listed alphabetically by name and by category:
- Archives – Interviews and Presentations (1960-1995)
- Fremont Stories (2006)
- Niles Memories (2016)
- Country Club 50 (2016)
- Our Heritage – Interviews and Presentations (1995-present)
Archives – Interviews and Presentations (1960-1995)
69 audio tapes and one movie that include interviews and talks presented between 1970-1990. 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!
- Alphabetical list of listed Audio/Video/ Interviews and Recordings
- Read California Revealed interviews
Fremont Stories (2006)
Fremont Stories: Our Family Album is an Oral History Project that was a part of the Celebrate Fremont 50th Anniversary. It focuses on the many faces of Fremont residents. The city is a merger of five former small towns into a single community with various ethnic, socio-economic, business and age differences. The project highlights the many facets of Fremont life. Fremont Stories: Our Family Album collected stories from people in the community, including new immigrants and longtime residents through video-taped interviews conducted by trained interviewers and residents interviewing each other. Through this process residents learn more about what this community was like, how it has changed and they discuss their hopes for the future.
The interviews are arranged in three categories depending on when the person interviewed came to the area including:
- Washington Township 1955 or before
- Fremont: The New City 1956 to 1976
- Fremont: The United Nations City 1977 to 2006
Thanks to all that helped with this project:
- Production, Videography, Editing: Walter Garcia , Duke DeLeon, EdTV26
- DVD Cover Design: CK Lim
- Production Coordinator: Patricia Schaffarczyk
- Executive Committee Members: Nydia Estrada, Reshma Yunus, Paul Sethy, Andrew MacRae, Natalie Munn
- Videographers: Lis Cox, Tony Cruz, Tom Coroneos, Conrado Villazor, Jamison Boyer, KarYin Tham
- Oral History Consultant: Nancy MacKay
- Sponsored by Celebrate Fremont, Inc and Museum of Local History
The DVDs of all interviews from Fremont Stories, Our Family Album are for sale in the museum store.
Niles Memories (2016)
A series of 10 video interviews conducted in 2017 of Niles residents who lived in the town in the 1950s. (2017)
Country Club 50 (2016)
There were 8 ladies who have been members of the country club of Washington Township Women’s Club for more than fifty years. In 2016 each of these members were interviewed and recorded. Their recordings are available in our museum archives.
Read the summary of the stories of how each person came to live in Fremont and how they joined the Country Club more than 50 years ago. These stories tell how many people came and lived in the Tri-City Area.
Our Heritage – Interviews and Presentations (1995-Present)
A collection of audio and video interviews conducted through the museum from 2010 through the present.
Our Heritage – Interviews and Presentations is also an ongoing project where we collect and conduct oral histories, interviews and presentations.
If you are interested in conducting local history interviews please contact us at the museum at Info@museumoflocalhistory.org
The museum has thousands of original and scanned images of historical photographs of Fremont, Newark and Union City. The images come from several different collections. Visit to the museum to research and request images. Attached is our Image Use Policy. Please view this document if you are interested in acquiring a photographic image.
A sample of our photos can be viewed through our PastPerfect online collections database.
The Library collection includes a non-circulating reference center and is partially cataloged through the PastPerfect Program and available to research during public hours or by appointment.
These include books on local and California history, both rare volumes and recent publications, yearbooks, newspapers, original documents, news clips, research file, maps, blueprints and other original items associated with Washington Township History.
A few items in this collection are available online through our ONLINE COLLECTIONS. Visit the online collections database.
Try one of these links to view specific parts of the collection. The search in our collection is the easiest way to find local information. Examples and links to a few categories are listed below.
- Washingtonian from Washington High School
- Roundup from Thornton Junior High
- Evergreen from Irvington Elementary
Assessor: Assessor books selection from 1893-1902
Other topics of interest may include: California Nursery, album, etc.