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History of the Arizona Historical Society

Established by an Act of the First Territorial Legislature on November 7, 1864, the Arizona Historical Society (AHS) is Arizona’s oldest historical agency. Architects of the Territory’s code of laws realized they were making history and that it was important to preserve a record of their activities. One of their earliest actions was to create the means for documenting the past and recording contemporary events as they unfolded. This became the Arizona Historical Society, formed to collect and preserve “all facts relating to the history of this Territory.”

Today, AHS serves as the steward of state history, fulfilling its mission to collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate the history of Arizona and the West. Collections, housed in AHS museum facilities throughout the state, number in excess of three million objects. The Society’s artifact and manuscript holdings offer unrivaled opportunities for public programming, educational outreach, and exhibitions, as well as academic and community-based research. AHS collections not only provide premier resources for recounting Arizona’s past, but are invaluable tools for promoting public understanding of contemporary issues such as water availability, immigration, free trade, mining, ranching and agribusiness, the defense industry, cultural diversity, and urban development and revitalization. The Arizona Historical Society — through its exhibits, programs, publications, and outreach — informs and inspires people of all ages by reminding them of the boldness and daring that characterized countless individuals, past and present, who have made Arizona their home.