Shasta Historical society

Past Exhibits

Her Side of the Story: Tales of CA Pioneer Women and Shasta County Women of Influence

February 3, 2023 – May 28, 2023

Thank you to our generous sponsors for making this exhibit possible.

Chico Feminist Women’s Health Center

Illuminating the hardships, joys, and lives of female pioneers in California, Her Side of the Story: Tales of California Pioneer Women and Shasta County Women of Influence will appear at the Shasta Historical Society from February 3, 2023 to May 28, 2023. The traveling exhibit features over 30 first-person accounts collected from women who traveled by land or sea to settle throughout California prior to January 1, 1854 and profiles of local Shasta County women from the 1850s to the present day.

As preparations were being made for the commemoration of California’s Golden Jubilee in 1900, a letter printed in a San Francisco newspaper asked why “no provisions had been made for the pioneer mothers.” In turn, The Association of Pioneer Women of California was formed. The group collected and preserved the reminiscences of women who arrived in California before 1854 in a single ledger. This incredible document, filled with over 800 handwritten stories of California pioneer women, is the basis for the exhibition at the Shasta Historical Society. The ledger and exhibition create a more complete and balanced understanding of our shared history by highlighting women’s voices and experiences as they traveled to California.

This exhibit, augmented with local stories, represents some women who were pioneers in the usual sense as they journeyed overland in the 19th century and established new lives in California. Others were pioneers in their professions and areas of expertise. They came from varied backgrounds and used both traditional and non-traditional roles to make significant impacts on society and influence those who followed. These women represent their many peers, those well known to obscure, for whom we did not have enough space to include. Intermingled together, the displays from Exhibit Envoy and our local information, photographs, and artifacts capture a diverse collection of amazing women who blazed trails across the physical and societal landscapes and helped to shape Shasta County, California, the world, and who we are today. 

The exhibit, however, does not represent all voices. As such, an important section of the exhibition is comprised of forty diverse portraits of unidentified women. These women represent the thousands of pioneers whose stories were never recorded; each one had a story to tell which is lost to time. In addition to viewing the exhibition, teachers, historians, and researchers may now use this online resource to access the contents of this book, and to search through the digital transcriptions of each story to learn more about the experiences of these women and their journeys to California.

Exhibition Support: Her Side of the Story: Tales of California Pioneer Women was developed by the Society of California Pioneers and travels through Exhibit Envoy. Shasta County stories included in the exhibit were developed by the Shasta Historical Society. About Exhibit Envoy: Exhibit Envoy provides traveling exhibitions and professional services to museums throughout California. For more information, visit

Hidden Treasures of Shasta Lake: What Lies Beneath the Waters?

September – January 2022

                                                                                                                                                                            This exhibit explores the often-forgotten history that hides beneath Shasta Lake. The building of Shasta Dam and subsequent flooding of the landscape behind it buried several historic treasures under the lake’s cool, dark depths. Through this exhibit learn why Shasta Dam was built and how Shasta Lake changed the landscape. Explore the mines and smelters built to extract and process ore and the communities that grew up around them in the late 1800s. Investigate the transportation network of roads, railroads, bridges, tunnels and ferries that connected this isolated area to the outside world. Droughts, like the one we are currently experiencing, often provided us with glimpses of these treasures from the past. The more the water recedes, the more is revealed. Hidden Treasures of Shasta Lake aims to increase awareness and appreciation of this area of northern California, the dam and lake, and their impact on some of Shasta County’s people, ecology, economy and history. “Hidden Treasures of Shasta Lake” features artifacts and images stretching over 100 years of Shasta County history. The physical objects and images are all that remain of an interesting and diverse history that is often forgotten now that it resides beneath the waters.

Pollinators: Keeping Company with Flowers

Explores the Magic and Science Between Pollinators and Flowers

April– July 2022

Pollinators: Keeping Company with Flowers, a traveling exhibition explores the diversity of native California pollinators and their flowers through a series of vivid photographs. Take a closer look at California ecology through the lives of these pollinating species and the needs and obstacles of these important insects. In addition, Shasta County has a rich history of pollinators being an important part of our ecological and economic structure.

The exhibit features over 50 photographs of pollinators in wild and garden settings, primarily taken by Northern California plantsman and naturalist, John Whittlesey. These images vividly portray the intriguing lives of bees, butterflies, flies, and beetles. You will also find images, stories and artifacts relating to the importance of pollinators, particularly bees, to Shasta County history. The exhibit aims to increase awareness and appreciation of the incredible beauty and diversity of pollinators in California, as well as the impact they can have on local businesses and economies.

Exhibition Support: Pollinators: Keeping Company with Flowers is a traveling exhibition from Exhibit Envoy developed by Jennifer Jewell and John Whittlesey.About Exhibit Envoy:  Exhibit Envoy provides traveling exhibitions and professional services to museums throughout California. Our mission is to build new perspectives among Californians, create innovative exhibitions and solutions, and advance institutions in service to their communities. For more information, please visit www.exhibitenvoy.or

Gadgets Galore! Transforming the American Household

Various gadgets, both recognizable and strange, will be on display in Gadgets Galore!, illustrating how industrialization transformed every American household in the 19th-century. The invention of mechanical processes and the discovery of electricity and steam power would impact day-to-day life around the world. Mass production, faster communication, and more widespread transportation systems combined to industrialize the American household by inspiring the invention of the gadgets we rely on today. Uncover the histories of these strange objects, and how their invention led to the gadgets that are integral to our lives today, through traveling exhibition “Gadgets Galore! Transforming the American Household.”

California Votes: Exercise Your Right!
September 9, 2021 through December 9, 2021
Online Exhibit

Chock full of maps, historic photographs, and voting information, the non-partisan exhibition California Votes: Exercise Your Right! will be on display on the Shasta Historical Society website from September 9th to December 9th, 2021.  

  The discovery of gold in California in 1848 changed the future states’ demographics and finances. In just two years, the population grew from 14,000 to almost 100,000. It was obvious from the outset that California needed a government. In this exhibit, flyers, campaign posters, and voting guides highlight how Californians have engaged with politics in the past.

Brought to you by Shasta Historical Society Wherever There’s a Fight – an exhibition curated by Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi and toured by Exhibit Envoy. It is available online in English and in Spanish The exhibit tells the story of people throughout California History who fought violations of their civil liberties and reminds us that each generation has its own fights to keep our rights meaningful. This exhibit opens to the public July 11th through September 2nd, 2021.

“Black and White in Black and White”: Images of Dignity, Hope and Diversity in America


The exhibit has concluded, but to view the  monthly program click here.

In 1965, 16-year-old Doug Keister acquired 280 glass plate negatives, originally found at a local garage sale. He immediately made prints from some of the plates, revealing powerful, early 20th-century portraits of African Americans in Lincoln, Nebraska. These astonishing images are now on display in a new traveling exhibition curated by Keister, Black and White in Black and White: Images of Dignity, Hope, and Diversity in America. This exhibition appears on the Society website []  from March 11, 2021 to June 3, 2021. 

Black and White in Black and White features striking photographs attributed to African American photographer John Johnson. Using his Lincoln neighborhood as his canvas, Johnson crafted these ennobling images of his friends and family between 1910 and 1925. Equally as important as Johnson’s depictions of African Americans are his images of blacks, whites, and other racial groups together, an occurrence that was almost unheard of at the time.

The Smithsonian Institution recently acquired 60 of these photographs for their collection. Michèle Gates Moresi, curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, underscores the importance of Johnson’s work: “They speak to a time and a place where African Americans were treated as second-class citizens but lived their lives with dignity…You can read about it and hear people talk about it, but to actually see the images is something entirely different.” 

Additional related Society programming can be found at 

Exhibition Support:  Black and White in Black and White: Images of Dignity, Hope, and Diversity in America is curated by Douglas Keister, traveled by Exhibit Envoy, and presented with support from California State University, Chico.

Exhibit Envoy provides traveling exhibitions and professional services to museums, libraries, cultural centers, and universities.  Our mission is to build new perspectives, create innovative exhibitions and solutions, and advance institutions in service to their communities.  For more information, please visit

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