California Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford, Thelma Berkey Walsmith, and Nell Sachse Woodard for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
California sil.png
the California Family History Research series.
History of California
California Vital Records
Census Records for California
Background Sources for California
California Maps
California Land Records
California Probate Records
California Court Records
California Tax Records
California Cemetery Records
California Church Records
California Military Records
California Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
California Archives, Libraries, and Societies
California Immigration
California Naturalization
Ethnic Groups of California
California Gold Rush
California County Resources
Map of California


Nearly every local genealogical society in the state has some form of publication. These journals and newsletters will be at the major California repositories with genealogical collections, especially the Sutro Branch of the California State Library (see California Archives, Libraries, and Societies). Large collections will also be found at the FHL and at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The official periodical of the California Historical Society is California History, which began in 1922. This quality publication is available at some 500 libraries in the United States. The society's website (see California Archives, Libraries, and Societies) has an index to the journal and listing of libraries holding its journal.


The California Newspaper Project, managed by the University of California, is a major effort to identify and microfilm all the state's newspapers. The project has thus far identified 12,500 titles of an estimated 16,000 California newspapers. The project's online database of newspapers can be searched by title, place, subject, and institution at

Some major indexes exist for newspapers. The California State Library in Sacramento's 'California Information File,' also on microfilm at the FHL, covers more than just newspapers. The library also holds an index of about 922,000 cards with more than 1.8 million citations of San Francisco newspaper items from 1904 to the present. A published index to the San Francisco Call covers that newspaper back to 1894.


Probably the largest manuscript collection in the state is at the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. The library's collection on the West is strong and includes many diaries, collections of personal papers, and letters. A guide to the manuscript collection is available. Both the Bancroft Library and the California State Library have excellent websites that make accessing information in their collections easy (see California Archives, Libraries, and Societies).