Kern County History



Colbert family

African American Voices
Untold Stories of Kern County



This on-going project seeks to document the history of the African-American community in Kern County through oral history, digital history, and an archival artifact collection program. Information collected will be featured here on the Historical Research Center (HRC) website and will serve as a clearing house of information for researchers. Examples of items that we are looking for include photographs, various documents (such as birth, marriage, death certificates or other documents affiliated with your family history), newspaper clippings, yearbooks, and scrap books. We are also looking to document the history of the various church organizations in the community. Items submitted for consideration will be, with permission, digitized and stored in the Walter Stiern Library’s digital library.



Watercolor painting

Architectural History



Kern County has a rich heritage in the area of architecture. Since 2014, the HRC has made great efforts to preserve this heritage. This collection contains a variety of items including blueprints, tracings, photographs, watercolors, correspondence, film, and ephemera. Architects featured in this collection include Charles Biggar, Whitney Biggar, Clarence Cullimore Sr. Clarence Cullimore Jr., John Pedersen, Wilson Call, and many others.


oral history interview

Basque History



Basque History

Mayflower sunset, by Dorothea Lange

Housing History



Bakersfield and Kern County Housing History: Bakersfield Redlining and Racially Restrictive Covenants

The Federal Housing Administration was established in 1934 as a New Deal Program. By 1938, the FHA Underwriting Manual recommended the use of racially restrictive covenants to developers and real estate agents to protect racial homogeneity in the name of financial investment. Bakersfield and Kern County neighborhoods were racially segregated. This page explores the use of racially restrictive covenants from 1938 to 1950.

cullimore collection

General History


Kern County covers an area of almost 8200 square miles and has a rich tradition in agriculture, petroleum, aerospace, and music. In 1914, Wallace M. Morgan offered this introduction in his 1556-page tome, The History of Kern County, California:

“To read Kern County’s history aright, to understand its motive forces, to get in harmony with the spirit of its people and to know why certain otherwise inexplicable events and conditions came to pass, it is necessary to keep in mind several things. First of all, there always has been some big thing doing in Kern County. It is a county of vast size, and its treasures of natural wealth are wonderful in their richness and tremendous in their variety, range and magnitude. Think of 200,000 acres of swamp land, worth from $50 to $100 per acre now and soon to be worth twice these amount, selling within the memory of men now living for fifty cents to a dollar per acre and to be acquired from an easy-going state for even less than this. Think of the great expanse of desert lands almost as cheap and almost as valuable. Think of a great oil wells flowing from ten thousand to twenty thousand barrels per day and leagues on leagues of oil lands to be had for the going and taking. Think of such manifest richness as this and understand what dreams the pioneers indulged in, what cupidity and greed of gain were fostered, what clashes of strong, aggressive, resourceful men the scramble to possess these bounties of nature brought about.”



Masters Theses
(CSUB Students)



This collection features the work of CSUB students in local history research. This scholarship covers the areas of the 1918 Flu Pandemic, bootlegging and prohibition, and housing discrimination in Kern County.


Lawrence Tibbett




Opera and country music: This collection features Bakersfield Opera singer Lawrence Tibbett and the Bakersfield Sound.


colored citizen newspaper







Oral History



The Historical Research Center (HRC) Archives contain over 200 oral histories that were originally recorded during the late 1960s through the mid-1970s. They are currently being digitized and transcribed and will soon be added to this website. Also featured in this collection are interviews with Dust Bowl Migrants, Kern County Pioneers, and formerly incarcerated students.


1952 earthquake




This collection contains photographs documenting architecture, migration, Filipino heritage, disasters, and much more.



HRC Rare Book Room

Tales from the Vault



Tales from the Vault is a collection of stories about Kern County History.