Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thanks for the Memories

One of Sacramento’s historic treasures, James Henley, is retiring but will, thankfully, continue providing us all with more knowledge about our heritage through his personal work, and the memories will continue.

Take care Jim.

Editorial: History in the making
Best wishes to keeper of Sacramento's lore
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Did you know there was a cavalry charge on Sacramento's Front Street in the late 1800s? Now that he's retired, city historian James Henley is planning to finish his book about the incident, part of the nationwide Pullman Railroad Strike of 1894.

If Henley had not been born in Sacramento 63 years ago, that story and much of the early history of the river city would be deeply buried, some of it lost entirely. The city's historian and manager of the Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center for the last 40 years, Henley served as the meticulous keeper of Sacramento's history since he was in graduate school at Sacramento State College in the early 1960s.

As recounted by Bee reporter Dixie Reid, he fell into the job when a history professor gave him the choice of taking an exam or cleaning up a burned-out building in Old Sacramento. He chose to clean out the building, and he's been researching the history of old buildings and that of their inhabitants ever since.

He has been the collector, the organizer, the curator and the chronicler of all things Sacramento as well as the go-to man for anyone who needs a historical fact checked. As president of the Sacramento County Historical Society, he has been the most prolific contributor to the society's quarterly journal. One typical issue included articles by Henley on slavery in California, Chinese missionary efforts in Sacramento, early political cartoonists and a history of an early county coroner – examples of the breadth of Henley's interests and knowledge.