California & Local History Research Guide

Articles and databases

Find articles on California and local history

Highly recommended:

America: History & Life covers the history and culture of the United States and Canada from prehistoric times to the present


Academic OneFile (Gale)

Academic Search Premier (Ebsco)

California Digital Newspapers from UC Riverside, 100+ local newspapers from around the state

JSTOR Retrospective Journal Collection extensive backfiles of selected research journals

New York Times Historical The New York Times (1851-2003) offers full page and article images with searchable full text back to the first issue.

Newsbank access to 48 newspapers from around California, including Monterey County Herald and San Jose Mercury News

Others to consider:

WestLaw full-text coverage of thousands of news, legal and business resources

Newsstand contains full text of coverage of 150+ major U.S. and international newspapers such as The New York Times and the Times of London, plus hundreds of other news sources and news wires

Selected journals

  • California History - 1922-present (Periodical Stacks). Online issues from 1978-present (except most recent 3 years) are available through JSTOR
  • Noticias del Puerto de Monterey - Monterey History & Art Association newsletter, 1957-2000 (Periodical Stacks)

Books and background reading

Books in the CSUMB Library

Use OneSearch to find books and videos in the CSUMB Library's collection. Use the links below for quick lists of books and videos on:

history of California missions

history of ethnic groups in California

Monterey (Calif.)--History

Costanoan Indians

Books at other libraries

First try changing the drop down box in OneSearch from 'CSUMB Collections' to 'Books and Media (All CSU)'. If you can't find what you're searching for in the CSU please place a request via the ILLiad Interlibrary Loan Request Form to borrow books not available through the CSU / OneSearch.

Selected reference sources

Below is a list of selected reference books which provide introductory, background, and statistical information on topics in California History:

California Biographical Dictionary. Ref CT225.C35

California Handbook. Ref HC107.C2C253

California Historical Landmarks. Ref F862.C115

California Indians: Primary Resources. Ref E78.C15V36

California Inventory of Historic Resources. Ref F862.C125

California Place Names. Ref F859.G79

Encyclopedia of California. Ref F859.E52

Guide to the History of California. Ref F861.G85

Historic Spots in California. Ref F862.H57

Historical Atlas of California. Ref G1526.S1

History of Monterey County, California. Ref F868.M7

Monterey County Place Names. Ref F868.M7 C58


California history sites

African Americans in California

From the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, this site features a searchable catalog of Bancroft's holdings of materials by and about African Americans, with an emphasis on items relating to California and the West. Also includes a timeline and links to related sites.

Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

Rich, heavily used special collection on California history. Information on collections, hours, access. Descriptive information on specific items in the collection is available electronically and some materials have been digitized (see California Heritage links, below), but most materials must be viewed onsite.

"California As I Saw It": First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900

From the American Memory Collection of the Library of Congress: full texts and illustrations of 190 works documenting the formative era of California's history through eyewitness accounts.

California Historical Society

Links to information on events, publications, exhibits, and the collections of the North Baker Research Library. Listing of historical agencies and museums by county.

California Mission Studies Association

The CMSA was founded "For the study and preservation of the California missions, presidios, pueblos, and ranchos and their Native American, Hispanic, and early American past." Their web site contains an illustrated glossary of related terms, annotated links to related sites, information on archeological, conservation & preservation projects, a mission directory, articles & book reviews, a section on news and events, a bibliography, newsletter and list of CMSA publications.

California Pioneer Project

Part of the California Genealogy Web websites (, the California Pioneer List is a listing of settlers who migrated to or were born in California prior to 1880.

California State Archives

Information about early California land grants, documents and other records, including those stored at the former capital, Monterey.

California State Historic Landmarks

From the California Office of Historic Preservation, a listing by county of historic places and landmarks.


The University of California's gateway to thousands of digitized primary source items that "reveal the diverse history and culture of California."

The Chinese in California, 1850-1925

Maintained by the Bancroft Library, this online compilation illustrates nineteenth and early twentieth century Chinese immigration to California through about 8,000 images and pages of primary source materials.

CSU Long Beach Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive

A searchable collection of oral history interviews, primarily focusing on Southern California history. Listen to segments online rather than reading transcripts.

Early Arrivals Records Search (EARS)

This database, a joint project of UC Berkeley and NARA, covers investigations of people who tried to immigrate to America via San Francisco during the period of the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1882-1943.

Early California History: an Overview

A special presentation in the "California As I Saw It" web site (see above) containing text and illustrations which summarize California history from its earliest times to the turn of the 20th century.

Echoes of Freedom: South Asian Pioneers in California, 1899-1965

An illustrated history of early Indian immigrants to California, featuring photographs, documents, and publications from the South/Southeast Asia Library at UC Berkeley.

Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush, at the Oakland Museum

A virtual tour of the Oakland Museum's exhibition which chronicles the impact of the 1848 Gold Rush on California's economy, population, environment and cultural diversity. Contains a special section on the Native American, Californio, and immigrant experience of the Gold Rush.

H-California Internet Resources for California History

A major section of the H-California web site which lists Internet resources on California history.H-California Network ( is an international electronic discussion group for scholars and teachers of historical demography.

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives (JARDA)

From the California Digital Library, this project indexes the holdings of several California repositories which document the experience of Japanese Americans in World War II internment camps. Includes over 10,000 digital images and over 20,000 pages of electronic transcriptions of documents and oral histories.

Land of Golden Dreams: California in the Gold Rush Decade 1848-1858

This Web presentation of the Huntington Library's remarkable collection of Gold Rush manuscripts, drawings, and rare printed materials allows the people involved to tell their own true stories and bring this unique event to life.

Online Archive of California

Part of the California Digital Library, this site contains online inventories, registers, indexes, or guides to collections held by major California archives and manuscript repositories, libraries and museums.

Local history sites

California Views

The Pat Hathaway Historical Photo CollectionEstablished in 1970, this archive of historical photographs focuses on Monterey and the Central Coast.

Cannery Row Foundation

The purpose of this non-profit organization is to perserve and foster historical study and interest in Cannery Row, located in Monterey.

Costanoan-Ohlone Indian Canyon Resource

Provides historical, cultural and political information relevant to the region. Images, video and audio files are provided.

Fort Ord Historical Images

Collection digitized by the CSUMB Library, located on the Online Archive of California website

Local History Links

On the Monterey Public Library's California History Room website.

Monterey County Local History Directory

Hosted on Monterey County Free Libraries website, descriptions of many local archives and collections

Ohlone/Costanoan Esselen Nation

This site has information about the name, homelands, history, and current status of "The First People of the Monterey Bay Area, California."

Santa Cruz Public Libraries Local History Site

More than 240 articles on Santa Cruz County history are available on this site, plus more than 400 full-text, local newspaper accounts. Many of the articles are illustrated with historical photographs.

UCSC Library Regional History Project

The Regional History Project has been documenting the history of the Central Coast of California and the institutional history of UC Santa Cruz since 1963, through oral history. This Web site includes the complete catalog of the collection, a photo gallery of historical images of the Central Coast of California, Oral History resources, and links to other oral history sites on the Internet.

Local historical collections and archives

Colton Hall Museum

351 Pacific, Monterey

(831) 646-5640

Materials pertaining to 1849 California Constitutional Convention, Monterey City records, other files on Monterey history. Colton Hall materials have been cataloged by Monterey Public Library, and are now included in the MPL online catalog.

Henry Meade Williams Local History Department

Harrison Memorial Library Park Branch Corner Mission and 6th, Carmel

(831) 624-1615

Books, photos, periodicals, ephemera, manuscripts and other items dealing with the history of Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Monterey Peninsula. Free lecture series every winter-spring. Non-circulating collection.

Monterey County Agricultural & Rural Life Museum

San Lorenzo Park

1160 Broadway King City, CA 93930

(831) 385-8020

Buildings, artifacts and historical materials depict the history of agriculture in Monterey County from the late 19th century on.

Monterey County Free Libraries - Administrative Offices & Californiana collection

188 Seaside CircleMarina, CA 93933

(831) 883-7573

Extensive collection of books, photographs, other materials on California and Monterey County history. Note: collection has been dispersed to branch libraries. Call for information on specific materials.

Monterey County Historical Society - Boronda Adobe History Center

333 Boronda Rd., Salinas

(831) 757-8085

Collection includes photographs, newspapers, and municipal and county court records. Extensive subject and surname files on Monterey County pioneer families.

Monterey Public Library

625 Pacific at Madison, Monterey


California History Room

Numerous books, magazine articles, maps, photographs and other historical resources pertaining to the City of Monterey, and the Monterey Peninsula. Long runs of California History/California Historical Society Quarterly, with indexes. Noncirculating; to use materials, sign in and leave ID at the reference desk. Extensive clipping file from local newspapers, through 1994; index to Monterey County Herald from 1995 on is available via their online catalog.

National Steinbeck Center Museum1 Main St., Salinas

(831) 796-3833

Archives and museum celebrating the life and works of John Steinbeck. Call for appointment to use Steinbeck archives, which contain over 30,000 items including rare editions, manuscripts, correspondence, periodical articles, scripts, posters, photographs, recordings, films, newspaper clippings, biographical material, criticisms and memorabilia.

Pacific Grove Heritage Society

Ketchum's Barn, Laurel Ave. & 17th St.

Pacific Grove,

CA P.O. Box 1007, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

(831) 372-2898

Collections consist of historical materials, documents, photos, and oral histories pertaining primarily to Pacific Grove.

Salinas Public Library

350 Lincoln, Salinas


Extensive local history clipping files and collections of photos, family histories, newspapers and other materials. Some oral histories available online on website Salinas Stories.

San Benito County Historical Society Museum

498 Fifth St.


(831) 637-5315

Indexed oral history collection with some transcriptions; surname and historical subject files. Museum houses vital records, photographs, and artifacts related to San Benito County history, including some materials on the Steinbeck family.

Many other local history archives are described in the Monterey County Local History Directory.

See also

See also the CSUMB Library's guides on History and Primary Sources

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