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Guide to the Thomas E. Risley Papers, 1900-1935
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Thomas E. Risley Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1900-1935
    Creator: Risley, Thomas E., 1881-1942
    Extent: 9 linear inches
    Photographs: In box 2.
    Repository: Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).

    Sanoian Special Collections Library.
    Fresno, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The papers were donated through John Powell in 1985.

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been transferred to California State University, Fresno.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Thomas E. Risley Papers, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.


    Thomas Eugene Risley was a businessman and property owner in Fresno, California, during the early part of the twentieth century; he was also a socially active community figure. Born in Arizona in 1881, Risley moved to Fresno in 1889 when his father Eugene W. Risley, an attorney, moved the family west. Risley studied mining engineering in college. Upon graduation he relocated to Nevada to work in the mining industry. Returning to Fresno in 1915 to look after his father's business affairs, Risley became a very wealthy and influential man. Risley also had a family by this time--his wife Gladys, and their daughter, Eleanor. His reputation for astute financial dealings brought him the attention of local political figures. As a result, he was appointed to various political positions in the Fresno area, including that of city commissioner in 1923. Risley also took an active interest in education and was the chairman of the committee on schools of the Fresno County Grand Jury.
    Thomas Risley died of heart disease in 1942.

    Scope and Content

    The Thomas Risley papers measure 9 linear inches and date from 1900 to 1938. The collection is arranged in seven series: Personal information, Clubs and organizations, Financial records, Fresno County schools, Fresno politics, Property, and Photographs.
    The Personal information series (1916-1931) contains personal correspondence to Risley's daughter, Eleanor, as well as her school essays and progress reports from elementary school through college. Also included is Risley's will.
    Clubs and organizations (1925-1931) include correspondence between club leaders documenting Thomas Risley's participation in local social clubs and organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Community Chest.
    Financial records (1918-1935) include investment records, stocks, bonds, receipts of property maintenance, and bank account records.
    Risley participated in the advising of Fresno County schools(1925-1932), especially on funding and other financial matters. He was also a member of the Fresno County Grand Jury dealing with educational matters.
    The Fresno politics series (1918, 1924-1925) contains the correspondence between Risley, as Finance Commissioner and other city officials and business leaders in Fresno.
    The Property series (1900-1935) includes Risley's deeds to both residential and commercial sites as well as a few to his father's buildings in the Fresno and San Francisco Bay areas. Also included are his mining claims throughout California as well as the blueprints for his Fresno home.
    The Photographs (undated) feature one of Risley's daughter, Eleanor, and several of various unidentified individuals (presumably family members).