OREGON'S CENTENNIAL in 1959 was the occasion that sparked community interest in historical events and motivated a group of Josephine County citizens who had a passion for history. Many of the group had parents or grandparents who were early settlers in the county. Following the celebration of Oregon's 100th birthday, the group incorporated the Josephine County Historical Society on May 9th, 1960 with two main goals: (1) establishing a museum for artifact collections and exhibits, and (2) organizing a research library for paper documents and research. Many struggles and changes occured over the next several decades in the Society's locations, financial situation and organizational structure, but today those goals of the founding group are a reality.
The Josephine County Historical Society operates an historical house museum, the Schmidt House, located at 508 SW 5th Street on the corner of 5th and J Streets in Grants Pass. Anna and Flora Schmidt gifted their family home to the Society in 1978. Tours of the house are given Tuesday-Friday during the hours 10:00-4:00. More on the Schmidt House Museum page.
Located next door to the Schmidt House is the Society's Research Library at 512 SW 5th Street on the corner of 5th and K Streets. With expansion in mind in 1991, the Society purchased an empty lot across the alley from the Schmidt House. For the next four years, the Board of Directors explored possibilities for a future research library. In 1995, the Ken Roberts Company donated a house and financially helped the Society move it to the empty lot. After renovations, accomplished with generous community support, the combined research library and bookshop opened in 1997. Research help is offered Tuesday through Friday during the hours 10:00-4:00. The Bookshop is open the same hours. More on the Research Library page.
The Josephine County Historical Society logo was designed by Hans Jergen-Grun, a draftsman and accomplished artist, and first appeared on the back cover of the 1963 Oldtimer, the Society's first publication. Since then, the Society's Publications Program has expanded, through the efforts of several historians, to include various local history books which are featured in our bookshop. Shorter history articles are written by staff and/or volunteers which are submitted weekly to the local newspaper or monthly to local newsletters and a few to yearly publications. More on the Publications page.
The Society's mission is all about collecting, preserving, exhibiting, promoting and interpreting local Josephine County history. Our library and museum are sites where collections, exhibits, and research are conducted. Through our bookshop and publications program, we promote and preserve history. To encourage community interest in history, we host educational as well as entertaining events at our facilities, and the History Players present outreach programs to students and other groups. More on the Living History Program page.
A Board of Directors is the governing group of the Historical Society. The Board meets every month for reports of the Directors and daily operations of the Society and to make policy decisions. The Society staff consists of an Executive Director, an Administrative Assistant and many dedicated volunteers.