Legacy Keepers

A Passion for Heritage at Shasta Historical Society…

The Shasta Historical Society wasn’t always the name of the organization that has spent the last 94 years preserving, promoting and bringing the history of Shasta County to life. When it launched on January 18, 1930, it was known as “Trails of ‘49,” an organization that sought to delve into the stories of pioneers, their influences and the historical landmarks they built. The names of some original charter members, including Francis Carr, Edna Behrens Eaton, Charles Litsch, Alice Reading, and Benjamin and Estelle Loomis, among many others, still grace buildings, streets and other landmarks in Shasta County.

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

In 1951, the Shasta Historical Society took on its current namesake and was incorporated as a nonprofit organization. It has had a few homes over the years, and in 1998, just after Turtle Bay Museum was established, the Shasta Historical Society purchased the building in Downtown Redding that it still calls home today.

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

Through the years, the Shasta Historical Society’s mission has remained the same: to encourage and inspire the community to explore the rich, vibrant, diverse history of Shasta County. It curates exhibits; provides community access to historical documents and resources; hosts historical talks, tours, educational programs, and fundraisers; and disseminates historical content through newsletters, publications, social media and more.

“Our efforts constantly engage the community and ensure the past remains relevant for future generations,” says Gabriel Leete, Shasta Historical Society’s development and marketing manager. “By connecting people with their history, the Shasta Historical Society contributes to a sense of shared identity and belonging.”

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

One of the organization’s most beloved and widely recognized contributions is the annual “Covered Wagon,” a collection of stories written by local historians. Writers are encouraged to include younger family members in the process of researching stories, ones that often include their own family history. Local students have thereby been inspired to write stories of their own – an opportunity that could open the door to a scholarship from the historical society.

In the 94 years since its inception, the Shasta Historical Society has consistently worked to safeguard historical artifacts, documents and stories. In more recent years, it has made a more concerted effort to bring more diverse exhibits and community members into the fold.

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

“The Shasta Historical Society has sponsored exhibits covering the history of unique and traditionally underrepresented communities – from the history of tattooed women in California to the role of African American histories in rural California,” says Jason Salter, Chairman of the Shasta Historical Society Board. “The Society has been a leader in bringing together communities and organizations that share similar passions for history and Shasta County.”

Mike Moynahan, Shasta Historical Society board member and past board president, was a teacher in the Shasta Union High School District in the 1970s and 1980s. “We used to have students use the resources at the Society to research an important Shasta County event, historic structure or an important person – which could be a family member in our community. The students really responded to it and often involved their family members in their research projects. We would invite local historians or community leaders to speak in our classrooms, which enhanced their projects and lead to energized class discussions,” says Moynahan.

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

Today, the team at the Shasta Historical Society continues to look for ways to meet community members where their passions and local history intersect. Last April, during rodeo season, the Society explored the life of Annie Ingle, also known as Anita Studnick, a Wintu woman who rode a bucking bronco. In January, “In Our Backyard” highlighted the history of winter sports in Shasta County. In May, the Society will host the 11th annual Taste of History fundraiser with a Roaring ‘20s theme, and in June, it will welcome an exhibit called Beauty and the Beast: California Wildflowers and Climate Change.

The Society welcomes volunteers, and with so many ways to contribute – from writing to researching to teaching to archiving – there is a position to fit every personality.

Photo by Jessica Zettlemoyer

On a personal level, each Shasta Historical Society member finds their own reason to be inspired. For Moynahan, the Society is a place where his love of history, research and working with the community help influence local culture and enrich lives. For Leete, it’s the people and the cyclical connectedness of the research. For Salter, it’s the stories and the shared passion for history.

“Never a day goes by without some amazing story surfacing at the Society,” says Salter. “If you come and visit for a few hours, read in our library or chat with Shasta Historical Society members, you will quickly become a part of that history.”•

1449 Market Street, Redding • (530) 243-3720 •
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About Kimberly N. Bonéy

Proud wife and mom, is a freelance writer, designer, up-cycler and owner of Herstory Vintage. When she’s not working, she is joyfully wielding jewelry-making tools and paintbrushes in her studio. Antique shops, vintage boutiques, craft stores and bead shops are her happy place.

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