California History Collections

The goal of the California History Section is to obtain every book concerning California history, along with a representative selection of newspapers and periodicals. Complementing these printed holdings is an array of other materials, including maps, letters, sheet music, postcards, photographs, posters, pamphlets, programs, and other ephemera.

Our collection guide (PDF) provides an overview of the types of resources available in the California History Room, along with the tools used to locate specific items. The links below provide additional details on the content and use of the collections.

The California collection covers all aspects of life in the state from prehistoric times to the present day. The collection is particularly strong in materials relating to the Gold Rush period, Sacramento, San Francisco, the Mother Lode, ethnic studies, mines and mining, business and government, genealogy, biography, and popular culture.

Geographically, the scope of the California Section's collections is limited to the state's borders and adjacent population centers. Chronologically, its holdings document people, places, and events from the accounts of the earliest explorers to issues of today.

(Documents in PDF format can be viewed with the Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

California materials in other
State Library sections

Other sections of the State Library also house material pertaining to California.

  • Materials relating to the West and other subjects, including information on California, are in the General collection.
  • The Government Publications Section has a collection of publications produced by California state agencies and local governments.
  • The Law Library has a comprehensive collection of California law.
  • The Sutro Library collection includes selected California genealogical resources as part of its comprehensive genealogy collection.