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Contributed: pre-2006

An Index to the Biographies

in 19th Century California County Histories

Contributed by J. Carlyle Parker

An index to the Biographees in 19th Century California County Histories.
J. Carlyle Parker, Gale Genealogy and Local History Series; v. 7. Gale Research Co., Detroit, 1979. 279 p. Out-of-print.

Reprint. Turlock, Calif.: Marietta Publication Co., 2115 North Denair Avenue, 95382; 209-634-9473, 1994, 3 microfiches.

"This index indicates, for some 16,500 individuals, the county of residence, date of the history, and the beginning page of the biography. For some counties there are more than one history. In addition, the location of actual copies or microfilm copies of each history is listed. This is a very welcome addition to the aids for genealogical and biographical research in California." -- New York Genealogical and Biographical Society Record 110 (October 1979): 246.

"The entries are listed alphabetically in the first column on each page, followed by the county, year and page reference. At the front of the book a 'Key to Books Indexed' unlocks this system of entry by providing in alphabetical order the county name, year of publication, and author/title information, again in columns. An added bonus in the 'Key' provides aids in locating copies of the county histories or their reproduction equivalents as well as library catalog numbers." -- Dr. Doyce B. Nunis, Jr., Southern California Quarterly 62 (Summer 1980): 198.

"Parker's Index is obviously in another tradition -- it provides an entry into existing records by indexing the biographees. To have culled from sixty-one California county histories (all that were published for the fifty-eight counties between 1855 and 1898) the 16,500-odd entries indexed here is no small feat. Parker is a painstaking and accurate indexer who uses the computer to assist in making order of alphabetic chaos." -- Ernestine Smutny, The Pacific Historian 23 (Winter 1979): 126-27.

"California has a staggering number of county histories--large tomes approaching 1,000 pages each, many produced in the form of a 'mug' book (a portrait and biographical history book). For reasons best known to the author and publisher, few were ever indexed, and those that did have an index left much to be desired. Thus, this work by a genealogical librarian, has the excellence associated with one who is a user also, in that sketches are now in one alphabet." -- P. William Filby, American Reference Books Annual 1980, p. 213.

"As many of these county histories are too rare to be loanable, the fact that the page numbers are included in each entry makes it possible to request photocopies of the appropriate pages from holding libraries through the Inter-library Loan System." -- Cindy Lo Buglio, Spanish-American Genealogist Annual 1980. pp. 35-36.

Except for the indexing for the seven histories of Alameda (1876 and 1898); Butte (1882); Kern (1883); Monterey, San Benito, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo (1893); Napa (1873); and San Diego (1883) counties, An Index to the Biographees in 19th-Century California County Histories has been superceded by the California Information File (CIF). However, it is recommended that both the...Index to the Biographees... and the CIF should be consulted. While determining the above exceptions, it was discovered that there are many omissions in the CIF that are covered in the Index to the Biographees.

A large number of entries in the Index to the Biographees contain only initials for given names, whereas CIF includes many full given names in 19th-century histories. If a researcher knows only the initials of a person, the Index to the Biographees will best serve him or her. If full given names are known, it may be best to use the CIF.

Another problem with CIF is that there are many misfiled card (entries). As the result of the above study another problem was found with both indexes. There are different page numbers for the county histories of Amador (1881), San Joaquin (1879), and Trinity (1940). The problem with the Trinity county history is that the 1940 publication date, which was used for indexing for the Index to the Biographees is a new typesetting, not a reprint of the 1858 first edition which was apparently used by the indexer for the CIF.

The conflicting pages of the Amador and San Joaquin histories are yet to be resolved. Two theories may be at the root of the problem. The problem may have been created by the publisher printing revised editions of a history while using the same title and date of publication, or some histories have been combined together, changing the page numbers of the second or last title in the combined volume.

If a researcher cannot find a page that is cited in either the CIF or Index to the Biographees, check the book's index (if available) or its table of contents, if it contains the names of the biographees. If an index or detailed table of contents is provided in the book, then browsing in the book may help, or check either the CIF or Index to the Biographees from which the page citation was not obtained.

All California public libraries should have the CIF. If your public library does not have it, please encourage them to acquire it from the California State Library Foundation, P.O. Box 942837, Sacramento, CA 94237-0001, for $137.50.

There are works similar to the CIF and the ...Index to the Biographees... that are statewide indexes to biographical and genealogical sketches for other states. The latest list of these sources is in my Going to Salt Lake City to do Family History Research, 3rd revised and expanded edition (Turlock, Calif.: Marietta Publishing Co., 1996), pp. 81-106. --J. Carlyle Parker

California libraries that have An index to the Biographees in 19th Century California County Histories:

  • Arcata, Humboldt State University
  • Auburn, Auburn-Placer County Library
  • Azusa, Azusa Pacific University
  • Bakersfield, California State University, Bakersfield
  • Belmont, San Mateo County Library
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley Bancroft Library, F860 .P1355 Reference
  • Berkeley, University of California Berkeley Hum/Area Library, F860 .P28 Biographies
  • Carlsbad, Carlsbad City Library
  • Chico, California State University, Chico
  • Chula Vista, Chula Vista Public Library
  • Claremont, Claremont College
  • Columbia, Columbia College Library
  • Cupertino, De Anza College
  • Davis, University of California Davis Shields Library, F860.P36
  • Dominguez Hills, California State University, Dominguez Hills
  • Downey, County of Los Angeles Public Library
  • Fremont, Fremont Main Library, 979.404 Parker, ref.
  • Fresno, California State University, Fresno
  • Fresno, Fresno County Free Library
  • Fullerton, California State University Fullerton Library, F860z P37 Spec Coll
  • Fullerton, Fullerton Public Library
  • Hayward, California State University Hayward Library, F860 P37 Contra Costa Ref.
  • Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach Library
  • Imperial, Imperial County Law Library
  • Imperial, Imperial Valley College
  • Irvine, University of California Irvine Library, Z5313.U6 C36 Temp SL273 SpCol Ref, Z5313.U6 C36 Temp SL 4th Ref
  • Kentfield, College of Marin Library
  • La Jolla, University of California San Diego Library, F 860z .P3 Reference Biography
  • La Jolla, University of California San Diego Spec Coll Library, F 860z .P3 1979 West Ref
  • Lakeport, Lake County Library
  • Long Beach, California State University, Long Beach
  • Los Angeles, California State University, Los Angeles
  • Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Natural History Musuem
  • Los Angeles, Los Angeles Public Library
  • Los Angeles, University of California Los Angeles Reading Room, Z 5313 U6 C36
  • Reference Reading Room
  • Los Angeles, University of Southern California
  • Malibu, Pepperdine University, Law Library
  • Marysville, Yuba County Library
  • Merced, Merced College, Lesher Library
  • Merced, Merced County Library
  • Modesto, Stanislaus County Free Library
  • Nevada City, Nevada County Library
  • Northridge, California State University, Northridge
  • Oakland, Oakland Main Library, 929.404 Pa10, ref.
  • Ontario, Ontario City Library
  • Pasadena, California Institute of Tech.
  • Pasadena, Pasadena Public Library
  • Placerville, El Dorado County Library
  • Pleasant Hill, Contra Costa County Library
  • Pomona, California State Polytechnic University Z5313. U6 C36 Circ.
  • Pomona, Pomona Public Library
  • Porterville, Porterville Public Library
  • Redwood City, Redwood City Public Library
  • Richmond, Richmond Public Library
  • Riverside, Riverside City & County Public Library
  • Riverside, University of California Riverside Rivera Library, Z5313.U6 C36 Ref
  • Rohnert Park, Sonoma State University
  • Sacramento, California State Library, Z5313.U6 C36 California
  • Sacramento, California State University, Sacramento
  • Sacramento, Sacramento Public Library
  • San Bruno, San Bruno Public Library
  • San Diego, San Diego County Library
  • San Diego, San Diego Public Library
  • San Diego, San Diego State University Library, F860. P37 1979 ref.
  • San Francisco, California Historical Society Library, REF Z5313.U6 C128
  • San Francisco, San Francisco State University
  • San Francisco, Sutro Library, Z5313.U6 C36
  • San Francisco, The Society of California Pioneers
  • San Jose, San Jose Public Library
  • San Jose, San Jose State University Library, F860.P365x Clark ref.
  • San Leandro, San Leandro Community Library
  • San Lorenzo, San Lorenzo Branch Library, 979.404 Parker, ref.
  • San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo City/County Library
  • San Marino, Huntington Library Art Gallery & Gardens
  • San Rafael, Marin County Free Library
  • Santa Ana, Santa Ana Public Library
  • Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Public Library
  • Santa Barbara, University of California Santa Barbara Main Library, Z5313.U6 C36
  • Santa Clara, Santa Clara City Library
  • Santa Clara, Santa Clara Library, GR 973.7494 P24
  • Santa Clara, Santa Clara University
  • Santa Cruz, University of California Santa Cruz McHenry Library, Z5313.U6C36 Reference
  • Santa Maria, Santa Maria Public Library
  • Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Library
  • Sepulveda, University of La Verne
  • St. Helena, Saint Helena Public Library
  • Stanford, Stanford University Library
  • Stockton, Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library
  • Turlock, California State University, Stanislaus
  • Ventura, Ventura County Library Service
  • Woodland, Yolo County Library
  • Yreka, Siskiyou County Public Library
  • Yuba City, Sutter County Library