The Mill Valley Historical Society’s origin was inspired by the dedication of Lucretia Hanson Little, former City of Mill Valley Deputy Clerk and official Mill Valley historian. Born in 1908, Mrs. Little was raised in Mill Valley, graduated from Tamalpais High School, and in 1926 joined the first class at Marin Junior College, now College of Marin. After leaving Mill Valley in 1927 to attend Northwestern University in Illinois, she returned in 1950 and held the position of Deputy City Clerk from 1951 until her retirement in 1973.
Mrs. Little was an avid scholar of Mill Valley, Marin County and California history, and her particular interests included John Reed and his 1834 Mexican land grant, the Reed family, the Coast Miwoks, and Mission San Rafael. She was widely known for her own efforts to ensure accuracy of historical information, and to encourage the preservation and appreciation of her community’s cultural and historic resources.
In 1976, Mrs. Little donated her personal collection of scores of historical documents, photographs and artifacts to the City of Mill Valley, creating the foundation for the Mill Valley Public Library Lucretia Hanson Little History Room’s collection and setting the stage for the formation of the Mill Valley Historical Society.
In January 1978, shortly after Mrs. Little passed away, the Mill Valley Historical Society was officially organized by a group of local citizens who shared her interest in and passion for Mill Valley history. The founding officers of the MVHS were President Helen Dreyfus, Vice President Carl Mosher, Secretary Dorothy Killion, and Treasurer Judith Barnett. The organization was legally incorporated as a nonprofit public benefit corporation in 1985, and described its purpose as follows:
“… to gather, catalog and preserve the records and memorabilia relating to the City of Mill Valley, Marin County, California, and environs, to provide means for the dissemination of this material to the public, to celebrate the community’s historic past and changing present, and to organize Marin County residents and other persons to support these objectives.”
The dedication in May, 2009, of a bronze plaque commemorating Chief Marin's birthplace in Mill Valley. Betty Goerke, vice president of the Mill Valley Historical Society, receives a blanket from the Coast Miwok tribal council recognizing her new status as an honorary tribal member. Goerke is the author of "Chief Marin: Leader, Rebel and Legend" and a resident of Mill Valley since 1962.
MVHS Dedication of Reed Adobe Plaque
Mill Valley Historical Society Board of Directors and Members, descendants of John Thomas Reed, and City of Mill Valley dignitaries gathered for the dedication of this interpretive plaque which marks the site of the adobe home of John Reed and his family.
The Mill Valley Historical Society is a non-profit organization of about 400 members. Officers and Board Members are elected at the annual dinner meeting in October.
Today the Mill Valley Historical Society has a membership of over 400, and continues to serve the community through a variety of means including:
- Collaborating with the Mill Valley Public Library in support of the Lucretia Hanson Little History Room;
- Overseeing the installation of historic plaques and signage in our community;
- Conducting and publishing oral histories;
- Conducting local history tours;
- Publishing information about local history;
- Conducting a monthly speaker series;
- Collaborating with similar organizations;
- Serving as a resource for those seeking information about local history;
- Collaborating with the City of Mill Valley to foster appreciation of our Historic and Cultural Resources.
Board of Directors 2024
- Nancy Emerson - President
- Dan Kelly - Vice President
- Steven Pitsenbarger - Secretary
- Michelle Muir - Treasurer
- Nancy Bloch
- Graham Davis
- Betty Goerke - Emeritus
- Charlie Kelly
- Matt Mathews
- Mia McCall
- Lisa Newman