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History - California, Sacramento and Local History

Introduction to Sacramento History

Established near the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers in 1840 by John Augustus Sutter as New Helvetia, the City of Sacramento is the oldest incorporated city in California.  It was chartered in 1849 by gold seekers who rushed to California from all over the world when the news of John Marshall's gold discovery reached them.  The site of Sacramento's early history is now a state historic park, Old Sacramento.  The State Legislature moved here in 1854 and Sacramento was established as the permanent State Capital in 1879.  The State Capitol Museum is located at 10th and L streets.  Both the Pony Express and the transcontinental railroad began here and Sacramento has been transportation hub ever since.

This guide will identify history resources in our collection and in other repositories for the both Sacramento region and California.

Sacramento History - General

Included in this section are Sacramento County histories, city directories and other resources. The Library has county histories for many California counties, complied 1870-1890. They are located in Reference F 868. These county histories are useful for finding people as many contain photos of prominent citizens.  Be aware that they may not have the same standards for accuracy as more modern histories, and often contain extremely glowing biographical sketches.  For more details and a link to full text of some of these early directories, please use the Finding People tab in this guide. 

Recently, publishers such as Arcadia, Turner and Donning and Co. have been publishing modern community and neighborhood histories in cooperation with historical societies and archives.  The Arcadia publisher's series, Images of America, is a good example of this type of local interest publication.


Canton footprints : Sacramento's Chinese legacy  2 NORTH Quarto   F 870 .C5 C45 2007 

Capital women : an interpretive history of women in Sacramento, 1850-1920 2 SOUTH   F 869 .S12 C64 1995

East Sacramento   2 SOUTH and Spec Coll & Univ Archives   F 869 .S12 .E36

First History of Sacramento City   Ref Desk Coll F 869 S12 M6      

Historic Cosumnes and the Slough House Pioneer Cemetery    2 South 860 R43

Historic photos of Sacramento 2 SOUTH   F 869 .S12 S38 2007  

History of Sacramento County, California    Ref F 868 S12 H5 1960

History of Sacramento County, California    Ref F 868 S12 R4

History of Sacramento County, California    Ref F 868 S12 W73

History of the Sacramento Valley    Ref & 2 South F 868 S13 M3

History of the Sacramento Valley, California    Ref F 868 S13 W7

Illustrated History of Sacramento County    Ref F 868 S12 I4

Index to Thompson and West's 1880 History of Sacramento County, California  Ref F 868 S12 W8 1880 suppl

Port of Sacramento  4 NORTH   TC 24 .C2 P67 2007 

Sacramento; an illustrated history: 1839 to 1874, from Sutter's Fort to Capital City 2 SOUTH   F 869 .S12 S48  

Sacramento County Cemeteries    Ref F 860 S34 1985 v.1

Sacramento Directory (Polk Directory)    Lower Level F 869 S12 A18 (1888-1982)

Sacramento: Excursions into its History and Natural World 2 North Reference and 2 South F 869 .S12 H64

Sacramento, heart of the Golden State 2 SOUTH   F 869 .S12 M38 1983

Sacramento : indomitable city 2 SOUTH   F 869 .S12 A88 2003  

Sacramento Suburban Directory    Lower Level F 869 S12 A185     (1957, 1959-1968, 1970-1978, 1980-1982)

Sacramento's Elmhurst, Tahoe Park and Colonial Heights   Spec Coll & Univ Archives   F 869 .S12 S314 2008

Sacramento's streetcars  4 NORTH   TF 725 .S17 B87 2006  

California & the West- General

Atlas of Westward Expansion    2 North Atlas G 1201 S1 W44

A Bibliography of the History of California, 1510-1930    Ref FZ 1261 C65 1933

California Almanac (1984-1995)   Ref F 859.3 A15

California Blue Book (1891-1975; 2000)   Latest copy in Ref JK 8730 A15

California county boundaries: a study of the division of the state into counties and the subsequent changes in their boundaries. Publication of the California Historical Survey Commission, Berkeley, 1923   JS 451 .C2 1923 H49

California Local History: A Bibliography and Union List of Library Holdings  Ref and 2 South FZ 1261 R63 1970

California Mining Town Newspapers, 1850-1880; a Bibliography   PNZ 6952 C2 G5

California News Reporter, vol. 1-4 (1971-1975)   Ref F 856 C32

California Patterns: A Geographical and Historical Atlas    2 North Atlas G 1525 H6 1983

California Pioneer Register and Index, 1542-1848. Including Inhabitants of California,  1769-1800 and List of Pioneers  Ref F 860 B27

California Ranchos: Patented Private Land Grants, Listed by County  Ref F 860 S565 1988

The care and use of the county archives of California.  CD 3111 .A5 1919A

 Early California Atlas (Northern Edition)   2 North Atlas G 1526 S1 E3 1983

Encyclopedia of the American West, vol. 1-4    Ref F 591 E485 1996

The Encyclopedia of California vol. 1-2   Ref F 859 E52 1999

Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, vol. 1-4   Ref F 596 T515 1988

A Guide to California History   Ref FZ 1261 C67 (1951)

A Guide to the History of California   Ref FZ 1261 G85 1989

The Governors of California   Ref F 860 M5

Historical Atlas of California    2 North Atlas G 1526 S1 B4

Historical Atlas of the American West    2 North Atlas G 1381 S1 B4

History and Bibliography of Southern California Newspapers, 1851-1876   PNZ 6952 C2 D3

History of California, vol. 1-4    Ref F 861 H68

History of California, vol. 1-5   Ref F 861 E38

A History of California Newspapers, 1846-1858    Ref PN 4897 C2 K4 1962

Index to the 1850 Census of the State of California   Ref F 860 B6

Spanish-Mexican Families of Early California, 1769-1850   vol. 1-2 Ref F 860 N6

Who's Who Among the Women of California    Ref F 860 W62 1922

Who's Who in California (various years)  Ref F860 W628; Ref F860 W63; Ref F860 W634

Who's Who in the West    Ref F 595 W64


This research guide is based on an earlier guide originally done with the help of Debbie Rogenmoser, Reference Librarian.