Getting Started with California
Genealogy, Ancestry & Family History
California Genealogy Tips & Hints
California genealogy is a popular hobby as well as a lucrative business. You may be looking for a way to trace your family history and ancestry, or searching for genealogy records for someone else. Either way, this can be a difficult but rewarding task. There are some tricks and tips you can use to improve your searches when you are looking for documentation to help with your genealogy records.
- California’s records are fairly complex, due in part to the nature of how counties were formed.
- Vital records in California have been kept by the state registrar of vital statistics since 1 July 1905. Earlier vital records are entered in the county where the event took place.
- Divorce records are available in the office of the clerk of the superior court in the county in which the proceedings were conducted.
- Censuses were taken for the following missions: San Carlos (1796), San Luis Obispo (1797, 1798), San Antonio (1798), and Soledad (1798).
- The California Constitution of 1849 provided for a census of the state population in the years 1852 and 1855 and each succeeding ten years thereafter. A few cities and towns have special censuses for California through the twentieth century
- The earliest land records relate to the Spanish (1769–1822) and Mexican (1822–48) eras and are mostly in Spanish.
- The court that has jurisdiction over an estate is the superior court in the county in which the person resided at the time of his or her death.
- Each of Californias four levels of jurisdiction: the municipal court, the superior court, the six district courts of appeal and the state supreme court, has a clerk of the court.
- Printed secondary sources of transcribed cemeteries exist for most California counties.
- The California State Archives has become the state’s official repository for service records of Californians from the Indian Wars through the World Wars, including National Guard records.
- California provided several ports and points of entry for immigrants.
- Prior to 1906 a person might have filed for naturalization in any court in the state; for this time period, there are no guides for locating a naturalization in the state other than for those records that were entered at federal district court.
Lastly, websites such as those listed below will provide state-specific genealogical details that can work wonders for California genealogy enthusiasts: