San Mateo County, California Genealogy

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San Mateo County

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

Dates for major county records 
1857-present 1857-present 1860-present 1856-present 1857-present
For earlier dates, try...
  • Parent county (before 18 February 1856 ): San Mateo County was created from San Francisco County, with additional territory added in 1868 from Santa Cruz County.
  • San Mateo County, California residents may also have records in
    Neighboring Counties: San Francisco | Santa Cruz | Santa Clara |                             
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San Mateo County, California
Map of California highlighting San Mateo County
Location in the state of California
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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County Courthouse

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[1]

Historical Facts

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

Parent County

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 [2]


The county was named for Saint Louis of Toulouse. The county seat Redwood City and the county was created 1856.[3] The County is located in the west central area of the state.[4]

Boundary Changes 

1868 - Land from Santa Cruz County

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

Record Loss

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




Populated Places (Official city and town websites)

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



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

The following web sites may have additional information on San Mateo County cemeteries.


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

Church History and Records

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.

LDS Ward and Branch Records

  • Burlingame
  • Redwood City
  •  San Mateo

Roman Catholic - Archdiocese of San Francisco

County Records

Court Records

Crime and Criminals

Index to Sheriff's Office Booking Registers


Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups





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

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.

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.

California, San Mateo County Records, 1856-1991 are free to browse at FamilySearch Historical Records. For a description of the records, see the wiki article titled, California, San Mateo County Records (FamilySearch Historical Records).

Current Records and microfilms of old deeds are available in the County Recorder's Office in Redwood City. Start by searching for the current address at one of the available computers. You will find the current owner and also links to maps related to the property including original rancho maps and maps showing the first subdivision of the land. There are more maps available in the record repository, some show the early landowners in various areas throughout the county.


San Francisco CountyMarin CountyContra Costa CountyAlameda CountySanta Clara CountySanta Cruz CountyCA SAN MATEO.PNG
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County of San Mateo - Mappery


Military History and Records

Civil War
World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship Records

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


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


See Death Records



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 Records


Archives, Libraries and Museums

County Courthouse

Family History Centers

Family history centers provide one-on-one assistance and free access to premium genealogical websites. In addition, many centers have free how-to genealogy classes. See family history center for more information. Search the online FHC directory for a nearby family history center.


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


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

San Francisco Genealogy
San Mateo County

South San Francisco Historical Society, Inc

Spanishtown Historical Society
505 Johnston Street
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Phone: 650-726-7084


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

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.





Voting Registers



  1. 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.
  2. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  3. Genealogy Trails History Group, “San Mateo County, California Genealogy and History”, 05/08/2017.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, " San Mateo County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, 05/08/2017.