Written by The Business Journal Staff
Fresno State’s Henry Madden Library has been awarded grants of $100,000 by the Central Valley Community Foundation to establish the Howard K. Watkins Photographic Archive, the largest collection of its kind documenting much of the greater Fresno/Clovis area since the 1970s.
The grant was provided in partnership with the Howard K Watkins Photo Archive Fund, which was established in 2006. The fund has received donations from nearly 950 donors with the goal to make the photographs accessible to the public.
The permanent archive will be available to students and members of the general public for research purpose and to experience a visual history of the community over the last four decades.
Watkins, a retired attorney, began taking photos in the 1960s and has amassed a collection of more than 300,000 photographs of elected officials, community and business leaders, celebrities, community groups, events, historic buildings, and public art, making his collection a reflection of our community’s collective experience. Included in the collection are notable photos of celebrities, athletes and leaders like Muhammad Ali and Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Watkins said he is honored to partner with the Central Valley Community Foundation and the Henry Madden Library.
“Originally, photography was my hobby, but became my passion as I began taking more than 15,000 photographs a year for the past several years,” Watkins said in a statement. “I am glad my vast collection of photographs will become available to all for generations to come.”
Ashley Swearengin, the president and CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation, said the photographs allow the community a glimpse of history.
“When we come together as a community, we make history,” Swearengin said in a statement. “Over 935 community members contributed to this fund to make this project a reality. Now, we get to enjoy our community’s history through the lens of Howard K. Watkins.”