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Contributed: pre-2006

Local History and Genealogy Resources

of the California State Library

Contributed by Dan Mosier

This book is for anyone who is interested in researching California history and genealogy in State Libraries. The State's two great libraries, the State Library in Sacramento and the Sutro Library in San Francisco, contain a wealth of information that is available to the public. The types of information in these two libraries are listed and described in this invaluable guide. What I find most useful about this book are the list of sources, such as newspapers, great registers, census records, etc., and the range of years available in the holdings. Mr. Strong also mentions what can or cannot be loaned or photocopied.

The book is divided into five major parts: Introduction, the State Library, the Sutro Library, Online Access to Library Materials, and Selected Sources of California History and Genealogy. The Introduction gives a little background on the history of the collections and the libraries, their purpose, and the types of materials acquired.

The State Library section is divided into a California Section and General Collection. Under the California Section are the following topics: The Resources and Collections section lists and briefly describes the holdings for the following types of sources:

  • Federal census records
  • State census records
  • DAR California Chapter compilations, which lists 118 volumes of vital
  • records, cemetery records, court records, war honor rolls, obituaries, wills,
  • church records, and more compiled from newspapers, courthouses, and other
  • sources for different counties.
  • Great Registers of Voters, 1866-1944 (except 1899)
  • City and County Directories
  • Telephone Directories, from 1897
  • Bibliographical Dictionaries, such as "Who's Who In California"
  • County and Local Histories
  • Newspapers, from 1846
  • Periodicials, from 1854 and published indexes
  • Manuscripts, such as diaries, letters, account books, hotel registers, minute
  • books of businesses and organizations
  • Maps, from block books to atlases
  • Portraits, over 25,000 Californians
The Specialized Files and Indexes section describes the following specialized files and indexes in the holdings:
  • Information Files, which contain 3.9 million citations pertaining to California from books, periodicals and newspapers, on microfiche
  • Newspaper Index
  • Pioneer Record File
  • Biographical Files
  • Mortuary Records
  • Sacramento City Cemeterey Records
  • San Francisco Voter Registrations
  • Sacramento County Voter Registrations
  • World War I Biographies
The Guides and Collection Summaries section briefly describes the various guides and collections in the holdings, such as the "California Art and Artist File," "Cataloged Manuscripts and Diaries of the California Section," and "General Magazine Index."

The Published Genealogical Sources section lists and briefly describes 18 books on genealogy, such as "California Death Indexes," "California Bride and Groom Indexes", and "Indexes to California Vital Statistics."

The last two items of the California Section describes the services and how to use and contact the California Section of the State Library.

The General Collection section briefly describes the books pertaining to history and genealogy, such as biographies, peerage, heraldry, telephone books, newspapers, periodicals, and DAR Lineage books, with a few examples provided. Specialized Indexes are mentioned, such as "Blacks in Selected Newspapers, Census and other Sources." There is also a description of the services provided and how to use and contact the general collection section of the State Library. The Government Publications Service provides information on:

  • U.S. Census
  • U.S. Military Records
  • Government Officials
  • Local Histories, such as Blue Books, registers, year books
  • Maps, such as topographic maps
The Sutro Branch Library section lists and briefly describes the following holdings:
  • Family histories, over 4000 volumes
  • Local histories
  • City Directories
  • Telephone Directories
  • Federal Census Records on microfilm
  • Indian Census Records
  • DAR Lineage Books
  • Military Lists, such as Patriot Index, Index to War of 1812 Pension Application, etc.
  • Boston Transcript File, newspaper clippings of genealogical interest
  • Periodicals, such as major genealogical periodicals and organization newsletters
  • San Francisco Public Library Genealogy Collection
  • Support Collection, such as atlses, gazetteers, maps, guidebooks, etc.
  • Card Index Files on surnames, local history, mortuary records, etc.
  • Subject and catalog guides
  • Published genealogy indexes, biographies, and other sources
The last part of the Sutro Library section tells about its services, how to use and contact the library, and even gives directions on how to get there.

The Online Access to Library Materials section talks about using RLIN, MELVYL, and DRA to access these materials.

The final section of the book lists 171 selected sources of California history and genealogy.

Some California libraries that have the above item:

  • Berkeley, Berkeley Public Library, 929 L786 1991, ref.
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley Bancroft Library, F860 .L68 1991 Reference
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley GovSocSci Library, F861.A12 L6 1983 Ready Reference
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley Hum/Area Library, F861.A12 L6 1983 Desk
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley Main Library, F861.A12 L6 1983
  • Campbell, Campbell Library, R 016.9291 Local, ref., R 026.9794 Californ, ref.
  • Castro Valley, Castro Valley Branch Library, 026.9794 Local
  • Cupertino, Cupertino Library, R 016.9291 Local, ref., R 026.9794 Californ, ref.
  • Davis, University of California Davis Shields Library, F860.L6 1983, F860.L6 1991
  • Dublin, Dublin Branch Library, 026.9794 Local
  • Fremont, Centerville Branch Library,026.9794 Local, ref.
  • Fremont, Fremont Main Library, 026.9794 Local
  • Fullerton, California State University Fullerton Library, CALIF L575 L81Docs/State
  • Hayward, California State University Hayward Library, F860u59 ref
  • La Jolla, University of California San Diego Library, F860 .L633 1991Circ.and Reference
  • Los Altos, Los Altos Library, R 016.9291 Local, ref., R 026.9794 Californ, ref.
  • Los Angeles, University of California Los Angeles University Research Library, F 860 L595 1991, Z 1261 L6 1983
  • Milpitas, Milpitas Library, R 016.9291 Local, ref., R 026.9794 Californ, ref.
  • Morgan Hill, Morgan Hill Library, R 016.9291 Local, ref.
  • Newark, Newark Branch Library, 026.9794 Local
  • Oakland, Oakland Main Library,
  • Palo Alto, Palo Alto Main Library, R026.9794 L811
  • Pleasanton, Pleasanton Branch Library, 026.9794 Local, ref.
  • Riverside, University of California Riverside Rivera Library, Z1261 .L6 1983 Spec Coll
  • Sacramento, California State Library, Z881 .C164 1983 California, Z881 .C164 1991 California Circ. and Non Circ
  • San Diego, San Diego State University Library, Z1261.L6 1983 spec coll
  • San Francisco, California Academy of Sciences Mailliard Library, Z1261 .L6 1983
  • San Francisco, Hastings College Law Library, Reference Z1261 .L6 1983
  • San Francisco, San Francisco Public Library, 979.4 L787 1991 ref and circ
  • San Francisco, Sutro Library, Z881 .C164 1991 Circ and Non Circ
  • San Francisco, University of California San Francisco Library, F860 .L6 1983 History Reference
  • San Jose, Alum Rock Library, R 026.9794 Californ, ref.
  • San Jose, San Jose State University Library, F860.L63x 1991 spec coll
  • San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo Branch Library, 026.9794 Local, ref.
  • Santa Barbara, University of California Santa Barbara Main Library, Z1261 .L6 1983
  • Santa Clara, Santa Clara Library, 929.1 L81, GR 929.1 L81
  • Santa Cruz, University of California Santa Cruz McHenry Library, Z1261.L6 1983 Reference
  • Saratoga, Saratoga Library, R 026.9794 Californ, ref.