Free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3
is part of  Sassy Jane Genealogy‘s States on Sunday series,
providing links to free digital resources for each of the fifty states.

Part 1 featured the major resources available.
Part 2 includes institutional and small organization links.
Part 3 today concludes the entries for California. The state’s resources are so numerous, it is impossible to list them all here. Researchers are advised to search for specific public library and genealogical society resources by geographic areas to find additional resources.

Ethnic Resources

African Americans in California

1,800 items found in 60 collections at Calisphere, predominantly historic images.

Chinese in California Collection

Free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3

Pon Doo Chew: Affadavit to establish nativity and identity, 1926 (courtesy Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley)

UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
The Chinese in California presents a balanced perspective on a tumultuous and changing history of this community in California. Major issues explored in these records include the Chinese contribution to California and the American West in the 19th and early 20th centuries; the rampant anti-Chinese sentiment encountered by these immigrants, eventually leading to the federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892 (repealed in 1943); and settlement and development in various communities, including San Francisco’s Chinatown, which remains the largest Chinatown in the United States. The materials presented in The Chinese in California are only a small part of the wealth of historical and archival materials documenting this topic at participating institutions.

Hispanics in California

301 items found in 29 collections at Calisphere, including family portraits. (See also searches at Calisphere for Chicanos in California and Latinos in California.)

Japanese in California Collection

More than 10,000 items from participating institutions, available in Calisphere. Includes Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records and many historical images.

Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society

“All Inclusive Database of Local Records Digitized and Preserved by Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society”
Search for records and request them here.

San Diego History Center

For information, hours and location: Research Library
“The Document Archives is the region’s largest collection of historical materials covering hundreds of years of San Diego history. The Archives houses over 45 million documents: public and architectural records, books, maps, scrapbooks, manuscripts, newspapers, ephemera, diaries and oral histories.”

Search the Online Public Access Catalog here:

“Containing over 2.5 million images, the Photograph Collection is one of the largest regional photography collections in the United States. The collection documents the people and the environment of San Diego County from the mountains and the desert to downtown and the beaches. Images from late 19th and 20th century photographers illustrate significant developments … The nucleus of the collection is the work of several commercial photographers from 1870 through 1940. A large segment of work by three early photographers was purchased by the Union Title & Trust Insurance Company in 1945, and in 1979, the collection was transferred to the San Diego History Center. During the 1980s and 1990s the Photograph Collection expanded rapidly with the work of several 20th century photographers, and the addition of the entire collection of the San Diego Union-Tribune prior to 1981.



Free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3

Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History

San José State University
Archival materials primarily for San José, Santa Clara County, and California history. Search books via the King Library’s online catalog. Other categories of materials include:

  • Civil Records and City Directories
  • Personal and Family Collections
  • Local Photographers and Post Cards
  • Business Records: Ephemera, Oral Histories
  • Local History Research Collections
  • Maps and Aerial Photographs
  • Newspapers
  • Photographs

Sutro Library, California State Library (Yes, that’s the way they’re spelling genealogy in the URL.)

Although this San Francisco library is not predominantly a digital resource, the Sutro Library’s collections, as listed below, are considerable. Use the Ask a Librarian function at to ask specific research questions. As with all libraries, they are not staffed to answer open-ended questions or do research for patrons.

“Founded on elements within Adolph Sutro’s original collection, Sutro Library’s genealogical and local history collection was formalized with the donation of the private library of Berkeley resident Henry Byron Phillips (5 Jun 1850 – 22 Nov 1924). Mr. Phillips, who was the president of the International Genealogical Federation, organized the International Congress of Genealogy held during the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. The collection has since grown to include:

  • 18,000 telephone and city directories
  • 4,000 family histories
  • Local histories
  • Vital, tax, voting, and property records
  • Military and business registries
  • Periodicals from over seventy surname associations and historical and genealogical societies
  • Daughters of the American Revolution publications
  • Foreign language materials
  • An extensive collection of guides, handbooks, surname and local history card files, indexes, dictionaries, finding aids, glossaries, and bibliographies for domestic and international research as well as historical and cultural reference material (publications related to history, travel, customs, costume, art, etc.)”

University of California Digital Archives

University of Southern California Digital Library

University of Southern California History Collection

Other California Resources

These are the resources for free California Digital Archives for Genealogy Part 3 (and 1 and 2) at Sassy Jane. (Can you tell I was an archivist in this state for a long time?)

Check out the other states in this series here. Next up in States on Sunday: Colorado!