Skip to Main Content

History - California, Sacramento and Local History

Biographical Sources

Historians use a variety of sources when researching people. There are general sources containing brief biographical sketches such as the Dictionary of American Biography (DAB) and various Who's Who directories as well as more specific sources such as public records, and indexes and databases for finding articles.  These biographical dictionaries and directories are indexed by the Biographical and Genealogical Master Index located in the Index area on 2 North. It indexes thousands of sources containing over 3 million biographical sketches.  Remember, to be listed in such sources your person must have been prominent or famous.

To locate any biographies, autobiographies, or other monographs on a specific person; use OneSearch and perform an advanced keyword search on the person's name.  If the person is famous, there may be a subject entry - if so, search by their "last name, first name."

To find information about early Sacramentans, there were a variety of publishers who produced local county and city histories.  Be prepared to take the glowing descriptions with a grain of salt.

During the 1890s and at the turn of the century several publishing firms wrote "history and biography" books for California counties, often called "mug books" because they included many photographs of prominent local citizens. Theses books were sold by subscription so you won't read anything but complimentary phrases. The county histories produced by Thompson & West in the 1880s are well worth hunting down for the wonderful detail of the "bird's eye view" illustrations of local properties. If you are not searching for California antecedents, the area your ancestors lived in during the same period may have similar volumes. Due to the efforts of many volunteers, the biographical sections of many Sacramento County histories have been indexed and scanned and placed on the web. Biographies from several of the books listed under the HOME tab can be read online:

Go to:

Last Updated: Jan 25, 2024 11:17 AM