FAIRFIELD — It’s the job of historical societies to help keep the memory and history of small towns alive, but finding and buying the items that fill local museum collections sometimes can be a struggle.

Fairfield has been fortunate enough to benefit from the generosity of Arthur Julia, a native antique collector who for years has helped fill the society’s collection with unique local artifacts.

In his most recent donation, Julia again has helped the town hold on to its past.

Last month, Julia gave the society a grab bag of valuable items including a 19th-century sewing sampler, a poster from a production at the Fairfield Opera House and an early 20th-century cooler for spring water from the town.

It’s an important donation for the society’s collection and a symbol of Julia’s generosity, said Doug Cutchin, president of the Fairfield Historical Society.

“Arthur has given us a lot over the years,” Cutchin said.

The historical society will hold a special event on Saturday, July 11, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fairfield History House, 42 High St., to show off its new acquisitions and celebrate “food from the past,” including homemade doughnuts, ice cream and taffy.

Julia, now 88, grew up in Hinckley. His interest in antiques started with trying to furnish the home he bought in Fairfield, but it didn’t take long for him to turn hunting for inexpensive furniture into a hobby, and then a career. He collected enough antiques that he started selling them at his home and eventually left his job at an insurance firm to get into the business full time.

Jim Julia, his son, bought the local business in the 1980s and turned it into the nationally recognized auction house, James D. Julia Inc.

As he gets older, Arthur Julia is shedding some of his collection, but he wants to make sure the items enhance people’s appreciation of Fairfield’s history.

“I was born and raised here. It looks like I’m going to die here,” Julia said. “These things should stay in Fairfield.”

Julia’s gift is doubly important, given the difficulty of locating important historical pieces and the expense of procuring them.

“Not only are these things hard to find, but once you find them, can you afford them?” Cutchin said. “We’re not a rich society.”