California Biography

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Local Research Resources

Biographies in Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Biographical information is often found in state, county, and town histories.
  • Towards the end of the 19th century, began publishers soliciting short biographical/family histories from local founding families, offering to publish them in an upcoming local history. This then became an incentive for family members to buy a copy of the book.
  • Families represented were not necessarily prominent. Practically everyone living there, especially in the Midwest, counted as an early settler.
  • These biographies often start with the first member of the family to settle in the area, and detail their descendants at the time of publishing. They may tell where the family moved in from. Children's marriages often are given, with maiden names included.

Finding Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • The county Wiki page lists several county histories. It also lists local libraries, and societies which probably have copies of local histories.
  • Many histories are no longer under copyright and can be found in the following online, digitized book collections. Search with keywords "History" and "the name of your locality" (state, county, or town).
  • The FamilySearch library has extensive collections of these local histories. Many are digitized. Search the FamilySearch Catalog under your locality for the topics "Biography" and "History".

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

The California State Library and theBancroft Library at the University of California-Berkeley have major collections of California biographies. Use the Online Archive of California to search for materials in those libraries as well as other repositories throughout the state.

Between 1929 and 1962 the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) prepared a 26-volume biographical collection, Records of the Families of California Pioneers. It is found at the DAR Library in Washington, D.C., and at the Family History Library on films 844436-46. Each volume has an every-name index. Indexes to the principal persons found in this collection can be found:

The California Historical Society has gathered biographical materials for the entire state throughout it's history. Finding Aids can be found on OAC.

The Society of California Pioneers has a collection of biographies and reminiscenses of Early California Settlers.

Richard Schellens collected materials on a variety of individuals and places mainly covering San Francisco and San Mateo Counties. A few volumes cover the state in general. Name Index, Place Index

There are many published statewide, regional, and county biographical collections. Many have been digitized and are available on Internet Archive. (California Biography) The Family History Library has volumes both in print and on microfilm. Search WorldCat using names, biography and places to uncover books, articles, manuscript collections and more. Be sure to read mateials by those who were in the same place at the same time as your ancestors for background information.

County Histories are a wonderful source of biographical information for those who settled in and remained in an area before they were printed. An index of biographies published in 61 county histories from 1855 to 1898 was compiled in 1979 by J. Carlyle Parker.[1]

[edit | edit source]

California Biographies

GeneaSearch California Biographies

UC California Digital Archives - Biographies - Regents of the University of California

  1. An Index to the Biographies in the 19th Century California County Histories, Gale Genealogy and Local History Series, Volume 7 (Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1979. Family History Library book )