is to make history come alive by collecting, preserving, and sharing the stories and artifacts of our common heritage.
The Southern Oregon Historical Society is nonprofit 501c3 organization governed by its elected Board of Trustees, who act in accordance with SOHS bylaws and standard museum practices. The SOHS Director, appointed by the Board, is supported by a dedicated staff. Together, they work with many volunteers who keep the Library open, keep Hanley Farm running, and assist with programs, funding and outreach.
The Southern Oregon Historical Society began in 1946, in response to a proposal to tear down the old Courthouse in Jacksonville. The railroad had bypassed the town 20 years earlier, a new courthouse was built in Medford, and the two-story brick building on Fifth Street had been left to ruin. People with vision saved the 1875 building and established a museum that served the Rogue Valley until 2010. Over the years, the Society also acquired and maintained the Beekman House, Beekman Bank, U.S. Hotel and Catholic Rectory in Jacksonville, and by preserving them helped to establish Jacksonville as a National Historic District.
SOHS built its collection, maintained its buildings and provided programs with support from the tax levy citizens passed in 1949 to fund historical societies throughout Jackson County. Since July 2007, when historical levy taxes were absorbed into the County General Fund, SOHS and other groups endeavoring to preserve, protect and share our heritage have depended strictly on private funding. At this time, the old courthouse in Jacksonville is not open to the public and does not include a museum.The SOHS collection represents the pride and the pain of people who have lived in the Rogue Valley. We have baskets and tools from the earliest inhabitants. We have letters and journals from the first families who arrived in wagons and on foot. We have the tools they used to dig their gardens,and theclothing they wore when they did it. We have treasures that range from the tiniest of fleas to the fanciest of fire trucks. Although we currently cannot support museum space to display the collection, our online catalog provides images and information about many of our artifacts.
Southern Oregon Historical Society is proud to own many of paintings and sketches by Regina Dorland Robinson, including this one (1978.20.31). Our book about her is available, too.
In 1982, Mary Hanley bequeathed the Hanley Farm to SOHS. This 37-acre Century Farm, listed on the National Registry for Historic Places, provides a glimpse into agricultural life from pioneer days to the mid 20th century, in a tranquil and scenic setting.
Since its inception, the Southern Oregon Historical Society has collected, preserved and shared photographs and documents that reflect the lives of Rogue Valley residents. The Archives include many pioneer stories, but also those of later settlers, and of people born and raised in the Valley.