A Letter from the Director
Welcome to the Idaho State Historical Society!
2021 marks the 140th anniversary of our remarkable organization, first as a private non-profit, then as a state Agency established in 1907 under Governor Gooding. We have grown from our original charge of chronicling the state’s story to engaging Idahoans through inspiring educational services that empower their decision making.
By sharing information and understanding about Idaho, we provide tangible links to the past that illuminates and gives context to the present. By stewarding Idaho’s historical collections that resonate with story, we ensure that future generations have a foundation on which to build. By providing access to government records, we continue the legacy of freedoms afforded our state by its guiding documents and citizen action. Historic sites immerse visitors in compelling, authentic learning environments. Through exhibitions, public programs, and purposeful conversations, our state’s story is a beacon for civic engagement.
We have delivered on our promise to preserve and promote Idaho history as a trusted resource. We boldly move forward to serve Idahoans, informed by the spirit of those who came before, inspired to listen, engage, and lift the human spirit.
We hope that you will join us in that endeavor! Please attend a program, experience an exhibition, contribute a meaningful collection item, join as a member or let us know how you would like to be part of the Idaho State Historical Society’s family.
Executive Director & State Historic Preservation Officer
Idaho State Historical Society preserves and promotes Idaho history.
Our vision is to make history essential and accessible through dynamic and gratifying services that inspire, enrich and engage all Idahoans.
- ISHS is responsive to the needs of its customers
- ISHS advances the Agency through innovation
- ISHS is seen as a trustworthy resource
- ISHS owns customer requests
- ISHS exceeds expectations
- ISHS collects, preserves, and provides access to State-owned archaeological and historical artifacts, sites, and archival materials
- ISHS represents a statewide and national perspective and collects materials to represent all Idahoans
- ISHS teaches and promotes essential historical literacy and the historical thinking process through its public programs
- ISHS develops programs based on customer needs with focused outcomes
- ISHS is committed to making history an essential resource for the people of Idaho through both traditional and innovative services that respond to social needs
- ISHS is committed to team unity and mutual respect among its staff, board, partners, and volunteers
- We demonstrate genuine passion for work through enthusiasm and excellence through accordance with professional standards.
The Idaho State Historical Society is a trusted guide through the state’s history and how it has shaped every aspect of our lives, our land, our communities, our government and our people. Created in 1881 and established as a state agency in 1907, the Idaho State Historical Society (ISHS) is an extraordinary system of cultural and historic resources comprised of the Idaho State Museum, Idaho State Archives, Idaho State Historic Preservation Office, Old Idaho Penitentiary and Historic Sites Program. ISHS preserves and provides access to irreplaceable state-owned historic collections, including prehistoric, historic and state artifacts; photographs, maps, manuscripts and architectural drawings; territorial, county, city, and state government records. ISHS stewards and maintains 61 buildings which include historic and significant structures. ISHS benefits Idahoans though key programs including Capitol curation and exhibition; records management through the State Archives, operation of cultural facilities of the state including the Idaho State Museum and Old Idaho Penitentiary, and management of the programs under the National Historic Preservation Act, including the National Register of Historic Places Programs.
The Idaho State Historical Society serves over 110,000 people each year through educational programs, inspiring exhibitions, fun events, genealogy and family history, research use, and technical assistance. Annually, over 15,000 school-aged children benefit from ISHS programs and visits.
The Idaho State Historical Society is state assisted and raises more than half of its budget to support services and programs with a mix of fees, public and private grants, memberships, corporations and philanthropic gifts.
A Message From Idaho Governor Brad Little
Whether you’re a student needing educational resources, you’re seeking an inspiring experience, or you’re visiting Idaho from another state, we invite you explore not only Idaho’s rich history but your part in that story, too. The Idaho State Historical Society is a great resource to help Idahoans and visitors understand our history and where we’re headed.
Monday-Friday | 8 am-5 pm
Closed most state holidays.
2205 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, ID 83712
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
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