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Oakland, California
Ascension Historical Society


  • Archives, Description


    The Ascension Historical Society (AHS) established our historical archives in 1989 in a furnished classroom with the initial purchase of a four drawer fire proof filing cabinet, and a dead bolt lock all funded by the Parish Council Our Archives are located in the Ascension Cathedral complex.

    We have since acquired five more filing cabinets, two computers, and a laminator. With the addition of a small storage room we have over 250 linear feet of shelving alone. Due to the limitation of available space we are unable at this time to accept items such as furnishings, clothing, and such from immigrants' homes, and specifically a valuable collection of old, authentic folk costumes from Greece.

    We choose to believe that the missing records of minutes of the Boards of Directors prior to 1954, as well as specific records from the 1960s have been kept in someone's possession for safe keeping these many years and will some day surface.

    Our crew of volunteer archivists meets weekly spending an aggregate 24 hours to catalog and document our collections in preparation for digitizing them.


    We feel it is our responsibility to display material from our collections. This is another of our tasks.

    We've organized numerous exhibits of photographs and artifacts, displaying them for our church community anniversaries and festivals and even in conjunction with civic libraries and other civic organizations.

    We've also organized exhibits for special occasions after Divine Liturgies, for instance during our Founders Day commemorations and the Veterans Day commemorations that our society has held over the years.


    Here are some descriptions of a few of the interesting artifacts:

    • Military Records

      Our collection of military records contains photographs and separation papers of men and women who served in the Armed Services of both the United States and its Allies from the Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Balkan Wars, WW I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, as well as in peacetime.

      Our archives hold the biographies of four known Greeks who served in the U.S. Civil War. Our archives also hold the 1898 separation papers of an Oakland Greek immigrant who served in the United States Navy during the Spanish American War.

    • Baptismal Font and Icons

      We have collected and are preserving the first baptismal font, its pedestal engraved with the date and names of its donors; segments of the iconostasis with the All Seeing Eye; and two large, dated and *signed icons on canvas; as well as the cornerstone; all from our original church building, dedicated to the Dormition (the Assumption). The two icons were restored by attaching them to new canvas backings at a cost of $1,000 in preparation for our week-long exhibit during the 75th anniversary celebration of our community.

      Among these sacred objects, we also keep a hanging kandyli from an immigrant's home in Oakland, c. 1899, which the family donated to us.

    • Newspaper Article (1933) leading to Commemorative Plaque (1996)

      An old newspaper article in our archives, for example, reveals that a tribute to President Franklin D. Roosevelt was held at Lakeside Park in Oakland and was attended by 10,000 residents in May 1933. The chairman for the civic event was Mr. James Chavalas, a Greek immigrant. Immediately after the official service, an olive tree was planted and given to the city of Oakland to conclude the tribute. A photograph accompanying the article shows two daughters of Greek immigrants, one daughter costumed as "America" and the other as "Greece" during this event. The olive tree still stands today. Discovering the history, we installed a bench and commemorative plaque near the tree in 1996.

    • Current Events

      Current events are incorporated into our archives. Records, printed materials and other items; photographs of individuals, organizations, civic, political, social and athletic events: all of these continue to provide documents for the activities of our community and will eventually become historical.

      Our collection of obituaries of local and former residents is already a valuable resource for biographies.

  • Summary List

    See the ARCHIVES SUMMARY LIST, next page.


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