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Center for Sacramento History logo About center for Sacramento History

History of the Center for Sacramento History

In 1953, the City of Sacramento established an “Historic Landmark Commission”. Their duties included the establishment and administration of a History Museum for the Sacramento community. The Commission began to collect artifacts within a year or two after its establishment. In the late 1960’s, the Commission, in co-operation with the non-profit, “Sacramento Pioneer Association,” opened a temporary City and County museum at 1009 7th Street in a building called Pioneer Hall. The building had approximately 1,000 square feet of collection storage.

By 1969 the County joined with the City in support of the Commission and Museum. The Commission would be re-named the Sacramento Museum and History Commission. The staff was recognized as City staff under the direction of the City Manager and the Commission’s role became advisory. The staff began to actively collect to build up a museum. The Commission focused on the development of a permanent new museum facility. The 1009 7th Street facility soon was inadequate and safety issues related to the building prompted the City to obtain leased facilities in the Mayflower Building on 20th Street, between J & K Streets. Part of the move was also motivated by the acquisition of a very large block of County records in 1976. These records became the basis for the archives program. The Mayflower Building provided about an 800% increase in storage space totaling about 15,000 square feet. The collections and archives remained in the Mayflower site until 1987. An exhibition facility was constructed in Old Sacramento at 101 I Street in a reconstruction of the first City Hall (1854). It was called the Sacramento History Center (now called the Sacramento History Museum) and opened in 1985.

The City and County recognized the archives as their official repository in 1976. The National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) made their first local government grant in California to organize the public records at the archives, publish a finding aid, and develop records retention schedules for the City and County (1979).

By 1978, very significant County record groups began to flow into the archives. Large private collections, including the KCRA-TV film collection were donated in 1978. The Eleanor McClatchy collection was accepted in 1982. From 1980 to 1983, over 2,000 linear feet of County records were deposited at the archives.

In 1987, the City lost its lease on the Mayflower Building and the collections were relocated into two storage facilities for almost two years while a new building owned by the City was completed at 551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd. The building, named the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center (SAMCC), opened in 1990. The physical size of SAMCC was not larger than previous facilities, but it was designed for its use as a collection facility and compact shelving increased the density of storage, which housed the existing collections and provided for an estimated ten years of growth.

SAMCC exceeded its estimated growth projections and was experiencing space issues in eight years rather than the projected ten years. SAMCC has now been at the Sequoia Pacific Blvd. site for over 20 years and because of the lack of space for properly storing a growing collection, 14,000 square feet of leased space at McClellan Park was opened in 2008. The adoption by the City of a Records Management program has already placed over 1,000 linear feet of records at the new temporary McClellan Park site.

In January 2009, the Manager of SAMCC became the Director of the Sacramento History Museum and the Historic Old Sacramento Foundation. The move was made to streamline historic interpretation in Old Sacramento and re-establish links between SAMCC’s collections and the Museum. In May of that year, an organizational name change was made from SAMCC to the Center for Sacramento History, a name that better reflects the community mission of the Center. From 1965 to today, the full-time staff has grown from one to four. In addition, there are three additional positions funded via public/private partnerships and approximately 30 volunteers that dedicate at least four hours per week to the Center.

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