California Archives and Libraries

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The following archives, libraries, and societies have collections or services helpful for genealogical research.

California State Archives
1020 "O" Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: 916-653-7715
Fax: 916-653-7363

National Archives—Pacific Region (Laguna Niguel)
24000 Avila Road
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677
Telephone: 949-360-2641
Fax: 949-360-2644

National Archives—Pacific Region (San Bruno)
1000 Commodore Drive
San Bruno, CA 94066-2350
Telephone: 650-238-3501
Fax: 650-238-3510

California Genealogical Society
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, CA 94612-3017
Telephone: 510-663-1358
Fax: 510-663-1596

California State Library
914 Capitol Mall
Sacramento, CA 95814

Mailing address:
P. O. Box 942837
Sacramento, CA 94237-0001
Telephone: 916-654-0261
Fax: 916-654-0241

A helpful guide to the California State Library is Gary E. Strong and Gary F. Kurutz, Editors, Local History and Genealogical Resources of the California State Library and Its Sutro Branch. Sacramento, California: California State Library Foundation, 1983. (Family History Library book 979.4 H23c)

Society of California Pioneers

300 Fourth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-1272
Telephone: 415-957-1849
Fax: 415-957-9858

To learn more about the history and record-keeping systems of California counties, use the 16 inventories of the county archives produced by the Historical Records Survey around 1940. The Family History Library has 13 of these inventories.

Two helpful guides to California archives and repositories are:

Coy, Owen C. Guide to the County Archives of California. Sacramento, California: California Printing Office, 1919. (FHL film 962744.)

Directory of Archival and Manuscript Repositories in California. Redlands, California: Beacon Printery, 1975. (FHL book 979.4 J54d; film 1036038 item 3.)

Computer Networks and Bulletin Boards

In a way, computer networks themselves serve as a library. The Internet, certain computer bulletin boards, and commercial on-line services help family history researchers:

Locate other researchers

  • Post queries
  • Send and receive e-mail
  • Search large databases
  • Search computer libraries
  • Join in computer chat and lecture sessions

You can find computerized research tips and information about ancestors from California in a variety of sources at local, state, national, and international levels. The list of sources is growing rapidly. Most of the information is available at no cost.

Addresses on the Internet change frequently. Currently the following sites are important gateways linking you to many more network and bulletin board sites:

The USGenWeb Project

A cooperative effort by many volunteers to list genealogical databases, libraries, bulletin boards, and other resources available on the Internet for each county, state, and country.


A useful list of sites and resources. Includes a large, regularly updated research coordination list.

For further details about using computer networks, bulletin boards, and news groups for family history research, see the United States Research Outline, 2nd ed., "Archives and Libraries" section.


The Family History Library and some Family History Centers have computers with FamilySearch™. FamilySearch is a collection of computer files containing several million names. FamilySearch is a good place to begin your research. Some of the records come from compiled sources; some have been automated from original sources.