Saturday, June 6, 2009

California Research

I just read an interesting article by Greta and it got me to thinking about the best online repositories and databases I've come across in my research. Since I research everyone in my tree and not just direct ancestors, I've researched databases from almost every state in the US. As far as regions go, I've found that New England and the South have the best online representation. Unfortunately for me, I have hardly any relatives from the south and most of my New England family left the area in the 1700s. I primarily research the "rust belt" and western United States (California mostly). California is an interesting mixed bag, I've found, as far as research goes. I've had debates with other researchers who say California is one of the worst states when it comes to online databases and others who say it is one of the best. I've also read articles which spanned the same spectrum. I've found that when it comes to California research, it all depends on the county. Siskiyou county is one of the best represented, as are most of the Bay Area counties. And San Joaquin county (which is the county I focus my research on most), like many California counties, is growing in regards to its online resources. Some counties, like the one I grew up in (Yolo) have a lot of work to do. There isn't a lot of online representation for Yolo and in fact, if you were to request an obit online for some towns in the county, you'd be disappointed because many of the libraries don't carry newspaper archives. In fact, if you want to use Heritage Quest you have to go outside the county to find a library that has it. These are some of my favorite online California databases:

The Golden Nugget Library
Siskiyou Cemetery Central
Library of Congress Newspaper Archive (as far as California goes, counties included are: Amador, Imperial, Los Angeles, San Francisco)
Siskiyou History
San Francisco Genealogy (which includes Alameda, San Mateo, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Contra Costa, Sonoma, Napa, San Joaquin, Sacramento, and Solano Counties)
California Genealogy and History Archives
California Newspapers
California State Library
California Tombstone Transcription Project
California Vital Search
Lassen Co. Obit Index
Mariposa Co. Database
Solano Co. Database
Stanislaus Co. Early Marriages and Wills
Cyndi's List: California
Databases on Ancestry


  1. San Joaquin County???? Why I live in San Joaquin County Leah. Stockton to be exact. Let me know if you need help with anything here. Gratis of course as one genea-blogger to another :)

  2. Wow, I'm so glad I decided to put that post up today, because these are some links I'm going to look into. Although I grew up partly in California and knew that my mother and her siblings moved out there in the 1940s, I hadn't originally thought of doing family research there, but it turns out great-uncles on both my father's and mother's sides moved there in the 1920s and 1930s, so I've got to get up to speed on this state - thanks!

  3. Thanks for offering Sheri, but I actually live about an hour away from Lodi (where all my family is). If you ever run into any San Joaquin Co. Shinns, that's my family. =)

  4. Leah,

    1/2 hour away and we haven't met???? A fellow geneablogger lives only 1/2 hour away from me and we haven't met???

    Leah, Leah, Leah.....we have to get together sometime. There are a few of us close by.
    email me at


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