Welcome to the Regional History Department where the past is preserved and accessed both in the library and through innovative online solutions.

The Jeanne Lane Moritz Regional History Department of the Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho, is a resource, like a national park or a wilderness area. We preserve the history of the Wood River Valley to aid visitors and researchers in their understanding of the land and the people of the area.

The Regional History Department was established in 1982 as a research and resource center and a depository for the preservation and long-term storage of two-dimensional historical materials relating to the Alturas and Blaine County regions of Idaho.  These materials include books, oral history interviews, diaries, letters, official reports, photographs, ephemera, manuscripts, newspapers on microfilm, DVDs and videos, and other related materials.  The purpose of the department is to support research and enrich the experience of our visitors.

Regional History Department

Hours: Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Closed Sunday

Phone: 208-726-3493, ext. 112

Mary Tyson, Director of Regional History
Christina Jensen, Regional History Librarian
Randy Kemp, Regional History Digital Collections and Systems Librarian
 Helen Morgus, Children’s Librarian (and Regional History!)

Our Collections

Oral History Collection

The oral history collection contains nearly 500 interviews preserving the memories of the people of the Wood River Valley. Subject matter ranges from the industries that created our lives in the valley — from mining, ranching, timber, railroad, recreation, and tourism to pioneer life and local tragedies. A few theme-related projects have been recorded such as the Gibbonsville Project and the Miriam Breckenridge Sheep Farming Project. Sound clips from the Miriam Breckenridge Project are accessible online in an e-exhibit via VoiceThreads.com. Here are the links:

Click to listen to Dennis Burks talk about early 20th C. sheep farming.

Click to listen to Alta Horton Ellis discuss growing up at Pole Creek Ranger Station near Smiley Creek, Idaho.

Below you can listen to a complete interview with John Breckenridge conducted by Miriam Breckenridge in 1978. John was a sheep rancher in Twin Falls, ID. Every summer he brought his sheep up to graze in the Sawtooth Mountains. In this interview he talks about his ranching years from the 30s to the 70s.

To directly access the Wood River Valley Oral History digital collection click here: http://rhd.thecommunitylibrary.org/luna/servlet/s/48szng


Historical Photograph Collection

women-fishingOur  photograph collection includes many subject areas from views of early Ketchum, Hailey, and Bellevue; Union Pacific Railroad publicity photos of Sun Valley resort; many aspects of sheep ranch life; and documentation of the mining era: 1880s to 1950s. The early known photographers included in the collection are:  Martyn Mallory, Eugene Antz, and Louis Holliday. Other prominent collectors of photos were Dorice Taylor, Art Ensign Jr., the Institute of the American West, Nellie Vierra, Wood River Journal (photo morgue), and various community individuals. To see our digital collections, CLICK HERE.

hemingwaynobelprizeErnest M. Hemingway

The Regional History Department has one of the most extensive collections of information on Ernest M. Hemingway in the nation. Our holdings encompass  collections amassed by his ardent fans John Bitner and Victor Gould. It also includes books by and about Mr. Hemingway as well as oral  history interviews with many people who were his personal friends and family members. We have photos not found in any other collection. On loan to the department is a Royal typewriter (on display at the Sun Valley Museum of History) that traveled with Hemingway on an Italian liner from Genoa to Havana Cuba.

The Mary and Ernest Hemingway House in Ketchum is also a significant artifact of the Regional History Department’s Hemingway collection.

Below, you can view a video that highlights our collection of oral history interviews relating to Hemingway in Idaho.  

 Click here to go directly to our YouTube page.

Ski History Collection
Sun Valley 1950 Ski Team

Sun Valley 1950 Ski Team

The Ski History Collection has approx. 400 books, 5 historical magazines, over 4,000 photographs, film and video footage, and several dozen oral histories. Within Ski History, one of our largest collections is the Bill Lash Collection. His initial donation in 1988 of video tapes, books, and publications–as much on ski instruction as on Sun Valley resort–created the foundation of the hybrid collection.

Additional collections you’ll find in the Regional History department:

Our Special Collections:

  • Lewis Family Albums
  • Edith Ellis Hyde Papers
  • Dorice Taylor Papers
  • Art Ensign Jr. Collection
  • Institute of the American West



Our Online Resources

Through generous grants from foundations and individuals, the Regional History Department has embarked on a journey into the digital age. Projects are underway to make more of our materials available online. In the near future we will be digitizing the newspapers printed around the turn of the 20th Century. We will also be refining our digital photo gallery to enhance user accessibility.

Please note, all images belong to The Community Library.  Downloading photos or use of any photographs is strictly prohibited unless in agreement by the library. We appreciate viewers respecting our Historical Photography policy. Contact us using the contact form below.

Regional History Photo Collection


Contact The Regional History Department

The Staff of the Regional History Department is always happy to help our visitors in their research whether newspaper ads, family history, or doctorial dissertations.

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