The extensive California newspaper collection is one of the treasures of the California History Section, covering dates from 1846 to the present. Historical newspapers capture the growth and development of communities, along with the attitudes and feelings of the people who lived there. They also record the political, social, cultural, and economic history of the area.
The newspaper collection consists of more than 2,200 titles, including long runs of at least one title from each of the 58 county seats, as well as other major cities. Highlights include the Monterey Californian from August 1846 (the first newspaper published in California), the San Francisco Alta California beginning in January 1849, the Placer Times published in Sacramento in April 1849, and the Los Angeles Star from May 1851.
The majority of the newspapers are preserved on over 135,000 microfilm reels. Current subscriptions are complemented by the State Library's subscription to electronic versions of selected California newspapers through Newsbank Inc.
California Newspapers on Microfilm provides lists by county of the microfilm newspapers in our collection. The State Library Catalog or the California Newspaper Project catalog can also be used to identify the newspaper titles and holdings ranges in our collection.
Articles in selected newspapers are indexed in the California Information File. This is supplemented the San Francisco Newspapers Index and by indexes to individual titles located in the California History Room.
Newspapers on microfilm can be borrowed. All of the newspapers can be used for research by visiting the California History Room. Bound and specimen newspapers must be viewed in our Rare Materials Reading Room. (This room is climate controlled to protect the collections housed there, and it can be chilly.) Cameras may be used, without flash, to make reference copies. The use of scanners is not allowed.
Coin-operated reader/printers in our Microfilm Room can be used to make copies from newspaper microfilm. If you plan on making copies from the microfilm collection, we suggest that you bring rolls of quarters. Each print from the reader/printers costs a quarter, and we have very limited change available.
We also have microform scanners which do not provide print copies but you can email scans to yourself or copy scans to a flashdrive free of charge.