Our Mission

The mission of Napa County Historical Society is to discover and keep history alive through exhibits, lectures, and events, as well as research, publications, and educational activities. We are a membership-based archival and educational organization dedicated to the discovery, preservation and presentation of the people and history of Napa County and its place in California history.

Historical Research

Get started on your local history research project by learning more about Napa history and studying our research guides.

What’s New

History and fun collide in these upcoming programs and events.

Get Involved

Get up close and personal with Napa County history by becoming a member, making a donation, or working as volunteer or intern.

Learn more

Online Catalogue

Explore thousands of historic photographs, manuscripts, scrapbooks, maps, blueprints, books, and ephemera on Napa County history in our online catalogue.


Contact Us

Get in touch with NCHS.

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook.



NCHS offers a variety of guided and self-guided tours of Napa County. Visit our Napa Valley History Tours page to see what we have available.


Visit our shop to buy books, postcards, photo prints, and more!

Earthquake Updates

The 2014 South Napa Quake threw us for a loop, but we are moving forward thanks to your generous support.

Our Story

Jess and Mary Doud, ca. 1979Napa County Historical Society was founded in May 1948 by locals passionate about preserving local history. In the late 1970s, then Executive Director Jess Doud secured the Goodman Library to house their ever-expanding historical research library, as well as for use in displays, exhibits, and educational programs.

Our active Board of Directors, Executive Director, and Research Librarian keep the organization running, and our corps of volunteers and interns assist with research, cataloguing, and publication. We are a small non-profit sustained by your membership and donations.

Blog Roll


Charles and Sarah Grace Crouch

Charles Wiley Crouch was the younger of two boys born to New York natives Francis Asahel Crouch and Rachel Wiley Dutcher in Canandaigua, Michigan, on July 21, 1867. The Crouch family headed west when Charles was ten, and settled in Calistoga. Francis rented the Greer... read more

Atlas Peak Fire

While the Rocky Fire continues to rage just north of Napa – take a gander at the Los Angeles Times’ excellent coverage for updates – let’s take a look back at one of the worst fires in Napa County history, the Atlas Peak fire of 1981. The 1981 fire was the... read more

Mary Ellen Pleasant

On August 19, Mary Ellen Pleasant was born. Her birth year is disputed, and while most sources say 1814, her grave in Napa denotes 1812.  She lived into her 90s, and passed away on January 4, 1904. Here’s a brief biography of this incredible woman. Napa had a... read more

Ask a Librarian: The KKK in Napa

Is it true that there were KKK rallies in Napa? The Ku Klux Klan saw a great resurgence after its reestablishment in 1915, heralded in part by D. W. Griffith’s Klan homage film Birth of a Nation. Many Americans were fearful of the violent and chaotic events taking... read more


Horace Lockwood Gibbs was well known in his day. Born in New York about 1851, Horace married Wisconsin native Nora P. his same age. In 1881, Gibbs had a vineyard of 2.5 acres with 2,500 vines in Calistoga (perhaps on or near his Money Lane property). The Selected U.S.... read more

Port Chicago Mutiny

The Port Chicago explosion on July 17, 1944, was the tragic result of ordering undertrained men into “manifestly unsafe working conditions at the base where only blacks were assigned the dangerous duty of loading ammunition.”[1] The Napa Daily Journal described the... read more