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.


Napa History Tours B2 copy

For a one-time donation, get Napa Valley history in the palm of your hand with these self-guided online tours for biking and walking.

Historical Research

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

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.

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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


Delilah L. Beasley

Delilah Leontium Beasley was born in 1871 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her father, Daniel Beasley, was an engineer and her mother, Margaret Harris, raised her five children at home. When her parents died when she was a teenager, Beasley went to work, first as a masseuse then... read more

NCHS and Tulocay Cemetery Announce New Collaboration

Game-changing agreement forged to use the old office at Tulocay Cemetery to house a small history display, library, and additional NCHS office space and staff. The Tulocay Cemetery Association and the Napa County Historical Society are pleased to announce an agreement... read more

Henry Hanson Thompson

by Patricia Renait, NCHS volunteer Henry Hanson Thompson was born on January 16, 1866, in San Francisco. His father died that same year leaving his mother with four young sons. She remarried, had two more sons and they moved to a ranch in Napa in 1873. It was there... read more

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Last summer NCHS received a huge donation of thousands of negatives from the Napa Valley Register spanning the 1960s-2000s. We are still in the arduous process of sorting through the negatives, but we have uncovered some very cool gems. The negatives below were taken... read more

Snow Days

It may be chilly this winter, but the jury is still out as to whether or not the temperature will dip low enough to get snow down on the valley floor. Napans of the past, however, got their fair share of white winters… Boys playing in the snow, January 1898.... read more

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Celebrates Christmas in Napa

by Virginia Means Part of the world-wide Anglican Communion, Episcopalians have celebrated the season in Napa City since 1858 using the Book of Common Prayer. Over time, new has been added to the old. First, Christ Church, now called St. Mary’s, has begins the holiday... read more

The Late Nathan Coombs

For more than a year past the friends of Hon. Nathan Coombs have been under constant apprehension concerning his physical condition. For several years it has been known that consumption has fastened upon him, and was slowly but surely sapping his vitality, inch by... read more

Growing Boys Instead of Grapes

by Kilian Fitzgerald The Boys Scouts of America, Napa Country was founded by Elmer Bickford and John L. Shearer in 1911. Bickford was from a Napa banking family and well-regarded as a community leader. He was an avid photographer and bird watcher. Shearer was the... read more

How Napa Celebrates Hanukkah

This year, Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, begins at sunset on Sunday, December 6 and ends on Monday, December 14. The holiday is an eight-day celebration that begins on the 25th of the Hebrew month, Kislev. Lauren Chevlan, volunteer for NCHS and the... read more