California Church Records

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The FamilySearch moderator for California is Jamie Mayhew

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Before 1900 the largest religious groups in California were the Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches.[1]

The Family History Library has several histories of the Catholic, Presbyterian, Latter-day Saint, and Methodist churches in California.

Missions[edit | edit source]

Ausustine Mission, Cabazon Mission, Cahuilla Mission, Campo Mission,Inaja-Cosmit Mission, La Jolla Mission, La Posta Mission, La Purisima 1787, Los Coytes Mission, Manzanita Mission, Mesa Grande Mission, Morongo Mission, Pala Mission, Pauma and Yuma Mission, Pechanga Mission, Ramona Mission, Rincon Mission,  San Antonio 1771, Santa Barbara 1786, San Buenaventura 1782,  San Carlos 1770, Santa Clara 1777, Santa Cruz 1791, San Diego 1769, San Fernando 1797, San Francisco 1776, San Gabriel 1771, San Jose 1797, San Juan Bautista 1797, San Juan Capistrano 1776, San Louis Obispo, San Louis Rey 1798, San Miguel 1797, San Pasqual Mission, San Rafael 1817, Santa Rosa Mission, Santa Ynez 1804, Santa Ysabel Mission, Soboba Mission, Solano 1823, Soledad 1771, Sycuan Mission, Torres-Martinez Mission, Yuma Mission.

Additional resources are available for the following missions through the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens through the Early California Population Project which is a database of the information contained in the mission records. The granting agencies that have supported this project are The John Randolph Haynes and Dorothy Haynes Foundation, the California State Library (Library Services and Technology Act), the Dan Murphy Foundation, the Giles W. & Elise G. Mead Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The records date from 1769 to 1850. You do have register an agree to use this resource for research purposes only.

Baja California Missions[edit | edit source]

  • Santa Maria de los Angeles
  • Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
  • San Francisco de Borja
  • Santa Gertrudis
  •  San Miguel
  • Santo Tomas
  • San Ygnacio
  • San Vicente
  • Todos Santos

Alta California Missions[edit | edit source]

  •  La Purisima Concepcion
  •  San Antonio de Padua
  •  Santa Barbara
  • San Buenaventura
  • San Carlos Borromeo
  • San Diego
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Cruz
  • San Francisco de Asis Mission and Presidio
  • San Fernando
  • San Francisco Solano
  • San Gabriel Arcangel
  • Santa Ynes
  • San Juan Bautista
  • San Juan Capistrano
  • San Jose
  • Nuestra Señora de la Soledad
  • San Luis Obispo
  • San Luis Rey
  • San Miguel Arcangel
  • San Rafael

Presidios[edit | edit source]

  • Santa Barbara Presidio

Other[edit | edit source]

  • Los Angeles Plaza Church

Boscana, Geronimo (1776-1831), A New Original Version of Boscana's Historyical Account of the San Juan Capistrano Indians of Southern California. Ann Arbor, Mich. 1974. FHL Collection

Roman Catholic[edit | edit source]

The first Catholic missions were organized in 1769. Most of the mission records begin in 1770 and are on film. The Family History Library and the Bancroft Library have extensive collections of the early records. For the index to these records, see:

  • Temple, Thomas W. An Alphabetical Listing of the California Mission Vital Records. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1985. FHL Collection 1307621 item 4; fiche 6047009

The following sources may help you find Catholic mission records:

  • Weber, Francis J. A Select Guide to California Catholic History. Los Angeles, Calif.: Westernlore Press, 1966. FHL Collection 979.4 K21c
  • Bowman, J.N. "The Parochial Books of the California Missions, 1961," The Quarterly (Historical Society of Southern California)], Vol. 43, No. 3. FHL Collection 979.4 B2s
  • Barton, Noel R. "Genealogical Research in the Records of the California Missions," Genealogical Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1. FHL Collection 973 D25gj v. 3-4 (1974-1975)

Many original mission records and other Catholic records have been gathered into central repositories. These include:

Santa Barbara (Old Mission)

Old Mission Santa Barbara
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (805) 682-4713

A guide to this extensive collection is:

  • Geiger, Maynard J. Calendar of Documents in the Santa Barbara Mission Archives. Washington: Academy of American Franciscan History, 1947. FHL Collection 979.491 A5. Contact the Santa Barbara Mission Archives to ask if a more recent list has been compiled.

Diocese of Fresno Archives
1550 North Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93703-3788
Phone: (559) 488-3788

The diocese includes the counties of: Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced and Tulare.[2]

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
3424 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
Phone: (213) 637-7000

Archival Center for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
15151 San Fernando Mission Boulevard
Mission Hills, CA 91345
Phone: (818) 365-1501
Fax: (818) 361-3276

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura.[2]

Diocese of Monterey
P.O. Box 2048
Monterey, CA 93942
Phone: (831) 373-4345

The diocese includes the counties of: Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and San Luis Obispo.[2]

Diocese of Oakland
2121 Harrison St., Sutie 100
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 893-4711

The diocese includes the counties of: Alameda and Contra Costa.[2]

Diocese of Orange
2811 East Villa Real Drive
Orange, CA 92867-1999
Phone: (714) 282-3000

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 14195
Orange, CA 92863-1595

The diocese includes the county of: Orange.[2]

Diocese of Sacramento Historical Archives
2110 Broadway
Sacramento, CA 95818
Phone: (916) 733-0299

The diocese includes the counties of: Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity and Yolo.[2]

Diocese of San Bernardino Archives Office
1201 E. Highland Ave.
San Bernardino, CA 92404
Phone: (909) 475-5399

The diocese includes the counties of: Riverside and San Bernardino.[2]

Diocese of San Diego
3888 Paducah Drive
San Diego, CA 92117

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 85728
San Diego, CA 92186-5728
Phone: (858) 490-8200
Fax: (858) 490-8272

The diocese includes the counties of: Imperial and San Diego.[2]

Archdiocese of San Francisco Archives
St. Patrick Seminary
320 Middlefield Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Phone: (650) 328-6502

The Archdiocese includes the counties of: Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo.[2]

Diocese of San Jose
1150 North 1st Street, Suite 100
San Jose, CA 95112-4966
Phone: (408) 983-0295

The diocese includes the county of: Santa Clara.[2]

Diocese of Santa Rosa
985 Airway Court
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Phone: (707) 545-7610

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 1297
Santa Rosa, CA 95402

The diocese includes the counties of: DelNorte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma.[2]

Diocese of Stockton
1105 North Lincoln Street
Stockton, CA 95203
Phone: (209) 466-0636

The diocese includes the counties of: Alpine, Calaveras, Mono, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.[2]

Methodist[edit | edit source]

Holt-Atherton Church Archives
University of the Pacific
3601 Pacific Avenue
Stockton, CA 95211
Phone: (209) 946-2404
Fax: (209) 946-2810

Presbyterian[edit | edit source]

San Francisco Theological Seminary Library
105 Seminary Road
San Anselmo, CA 94960
Phone: (415) 451-2845

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America[edit | edit source]

Region 2 Archives(Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming)
Carol Schmalenberger
ELCA Region 2 Archives
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
2770 Marin Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94708-1597
(510) 524-5264


Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

Early, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church records for California Wards and Branches can be found on film and are located at the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. The film numbers, for each ward, can be locate through the FamilySearch Catalog. Or by refering to Jaussi, Laureen R., and Gloria D. Chaston. Register of Genealogical Society Call Numbers. 2 vols. Provo, Utah: Genealogy Tree, 1982. (FHL book 979.2258 A3j; fiche 6031507). These volumes contain the film numbers for many (but not all) membership and temple record films

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

California Births and Christenings (FamilySearch Historical Records).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1972). FHL Book 973 K2ah.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Map of the Roman Catholic Dioceses in the United States of America, Office of Catholic Schools Diocese of Columbus, accessed 3 Nov 2010.