California Genealogy Resources

Doing research in the Library

The California History Section houses many specialized publications and materials that support genealogical research about Californians. Our Guide to Sources for Genealogy in the California History Room lists the resources and records that are frequently used for family history research. This guide also indicates which items are available through interlibrary loan. Another guide arranges these resources by date.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • California federal census population schedules for 1850-1930.

    Using federal census resources in the California History Room (PDF)
    How to use the 1930 federal census in the California History Room (PDF)

  • 1852 state census, including indexes prepared by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Using the 1852 California state census in the California History Room (PDF)

  • Great registers of voters, arranged by county, for 1866-1898 and 1900-1944.

    – A statewide index to the 1890 great register helps to fill the gap created by the loss of the 1890 census.

  • City and county directories from as early as 1850.
  • Telephone directories starting in 1899.
  • Historical newspapers from around the state.
  • Publications of county genealogical and historical societies.
  • Compilations by California chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
  • Specialized indexes and files created by the California State Library.
  • A California death index covering July 1, 1905-1995 and a California marriage index covering 1949-1986.

The California State Library DOES NOT have birth, death, or marriage certificates. To obtain these certificates, contact the California Office of Vital Records or the appropriate county recorder's office.

Unfortunately, the California History Section lacks the staff resources to provide family research services. Anyone is welcome to visit and use the resources. As an alternative, we can provide a list of private researchers who are familiar with our collection.

Guidelines For Using Records Repositories And Libraries from the National Genealogical Society.

(Documents in PDF format can be viewed with the
Adobe Acrobat Reader.)