San Mateo County, California Genealogy

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Guide to San Mateo County, California ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

San Mateo County, California
Map of California highlighting San Mateo County
Location in the state of California, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
Location of California in the U.S.
Founded February 18, 1856
County Seat Redwood City
Address Hall of Justice and Records
400 County Center
Redwood City, California, 94063
650) 363-4711
Named for: Saint Matthew
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San Mateo County
Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1866 1866 1866 1856 1856 1856 1850
*Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1905. General compliance by 1920.

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

San Mateo County Courthouse
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94603
Ph. 650.363.4712

County Clerk Recorder has birth, marriage and death record from 1866,
divorce, court and land records from 1880 and probate from 1856[2]

Historical Facts[edit | edit source]

Wikipedia has more about this subject: San Mateo County, California

Parent County[edit | edit source]

18 February 1856: San Mateo County was created from San Francisco County, with additional territory added in 1868 from Santa Cruz County. County seat: Redwood City [3]

Description[edit | edit source]

The county was named for Saint Louis of Toulouse. The county seat Redwood City and the county was created 1856.[4] The County is located in the west central area of the state.[5]

Boundary Changes [edit | edit source]

1868 - Land from Santa Cruz County

"Rotating Formation California County Boundary Maps" (1850-1925) may be viewed for free at the website.

Record Loss[edit | edit source]

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.

Places/Localities [edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Populated Places[edit | edit source]

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[6]

Unincorporated communities
Census-designated places

Neighboring Counties[edit | edit source]

Resources[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch Historical Record Collections[edit | edit source]

Bible Records[edit | edit source]

Biography[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

Cemeteries of San Mateo, California online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
Tombstone Transcriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See California Cemeteries for more information

Census[edit | edit source]

Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 3,214
1870 6,635 106.4%
1880 8,669 30.7%
1890 10,087 16.4%
1900 12,094 19.9%
1910 26,585 119.8%
1920 36,781 38.4%
1930 77,405 110.4%
1940 111,782 44.4%
1950 235,659 110.8%
1960 444,387 88.6%
1970 556,234 25.2%
1980 587,329 5.6%
1990 649,623 10.6%
2000 707,161 8.9%
2010 718,451 1.6%
Source: "".

For tips on accessing San Mateo County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.

Church History and Records[edit | edit source]

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about California denominations, view the California Church Records wiki page.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ward and Branch Records

  • Burlingame
  • Redwood City
  •  San Mateo

Roman Catholic

List of Churches and Church Parishes

County Records[edit | edit source]

|How to Use this Collection]]; index and images

Court Records[edit | edit source]

Crime and Criminals[edit | edit source]

Index to Sheriff's Office Booking Registers

Directories[edit | edit source]

Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups[edit | edit source]

Germans[edit | edit source]

Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

Genealogy[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Local histories are available for San Mateo County, California Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section California Local Histories.

Land and Property[edit | edit source]

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See California Land and Property for additional information about early California land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.

Online Land Indexes and Records

The Spanish and Mexican Governments distributed the bulk of San Mateo County lands to those who had served the government or military. Most of the Rancho owners also had residences around Mission Dolores in the current San Francisco.
Patents were recorded in San Mateo County in Patent Books 1-3. SMCGS has Indexed the records and images are available in the San Mateo County Record collection on FamilySearch.

Maps[edit | edit source]

San Francisco CountyMarin CountyContra Costa CountyAlameda CountySanta Clara CountySanta Cruz CountyCA SAN MATEO.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources

County of San Mateo - Mappery

Migration[edit | edit source]

Military History and Records[edit | edit source]

Civil War[edit | edit source]
World War I[edit | edit source]
World War II[edit | edit source]

Naturalization and Citizenship Records[edit | edit source]

All naturalization records produced by San Mateo County Courts are held by the San Mateo County Recorders Office.  This appears to be a complete set of all the Declarations of Intention to become a citizen and Petitions for the entire time the local courts handled naturalizations.  The last record is from the year 1983.  The earliest records are in an envelope file, and many records have Declarations attached which were filed elsewhere.

The San Mateo County Genealogical Society has indexed these volumes through 1945.

SMC Naturalization Indexes

There are references to early naturalizations in the Court Docket books which are located in the San Mateo County Historical Society Archives.  All names found in these volumes are also found in the Records office records.

The Naturalizations for Camp Fremont are contained in volumes dated May 1917 to March 1918. The special military naturalization required no Declaration of Intention, therefore the complete record will be contained in one volume.  Naturalized soldiers were from all over the United States. Originals are located in the SMC Recorder's Office offsite storage facility. SMCGS has also indexed those volumes.

Camp Fremont Naturalization Index
Naturalizations filed by San Mateo County in the California Northern District court are located at the National Archives in San Bruno. 

SMCGS also transcribed a card file of naturalized voters, which is also located in the Recorders Office.

Naturalized Voter Card File
All Naturalization Records after 1906 can be ordered from USCIS

Online Records[edit | edit source]

|How to Use this Collection]]; index and images

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as San Mateo County, California Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:

Obituaries[edit | edit source]

Periodicals[edit | edit source]

Probate[edit | edit source]

The county clerk is usually the custodian of probate records. The records include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

You can obtain copies of the original probate records (such as wills and estate files) by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for California - San Mateo - Probate records.

Unfortunately, FamilySearch has no probate files for San Mateo County. Some early probate ledgers are available in the San Mateo County Historical Association Archives, the rest are available from the Superior Court not the County Recorder.

Online Probate Indexes and Records

Repositories[edit | edit source]

Archives, Libraries and Museums[edit | edit source]

County Courthouse[edit | edit source]

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Family History Center and Affiliate Library Locator map - search for local Family History Centers or Affiliate Libraries

  • Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
  • FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Affiliate Libraries

Schools[edit | edit source]

Sequoia High School - Redwood City - 1st High School in County

Societies[edit | edit source]

Belmont Historical Society
1225 Ralston Avenue
Belmont, CA 94002-1902

Burlingame Historical Society
PO Box 144
Burlingame CA 94011

Millbrae Historical Society
P.O. Box 511
420 Poplar Avenue
Millbrae, CA 94030
Phone: 650-692-5786

San Mateo County Genealogical Society
PO Box 5569
Redwood City, CA 94063-5569
Phone: 650.306.3423

San Mateo County Historical Association
777 Hamilton Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

South San Francisco Historical Society, Inc

Taxation[edit | edit source]

California tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page California Taxation.

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. See the CDC Where to Write website for information on acquiring copies of these records. The State office has records since July 1905. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder.

You can get informational copies of birth and death certificates from the San Mateo County Clerk. Print and complete an Application for Certified Copy of Vital Record.  As with other California counties, requests for an Official Certified Copy of either birth or death records must be notarized.  Requests for an Informational Certified Copy do not need to be notarized.

Birth[edit | edit source]
Marriage[edit | edit source]
Divorce[edit | edit source]
Death[edit | edit source]

Voting Registers[edit | edit source]

Websites[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), San Mateo County, California. Page 84-88 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 81-83.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), San Mateo County, California. Page 87At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. Genealogy Trails History Group, “San Mateo County, California Genealogy and History”, 05/08/2017.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, " San Mateo County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, 05/08/2017.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "San Mateo County, California," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California, accessed 23 September 2019.