California Room - Local History Collection

Clipping of the 1891 Sanborn Map for San Jose, California, one of the many maps found in the California Room. California Room logo: silhouette of the state animal, a grizzly bear

Welcome to the California Room

The California Room collects materials on California history with an emphasis on San Jose and Santa Clara Valley.

Our collections are non-circulating and may not be removed from the room. Many materials are unique and fragile. Special rules for handling are required for their preservation.

More Details on Visiting and Using the California Room


150 E. San Fernando St., San José, CA 95112

Shane Curtin
Shane Curtin


Monday 1 PM - 6 PM
Tuesday 11 AM - 6 PM
Wednesday 11 AM - 6 PM
Thursday 11 AM - 6 PM
Friday 11 AM - 6 PM
Saturday 1 PM - 6 PM
Sunday Closed

  Holiday Closures

California Room Index

This source indexes materials not found in the library catalog including maps, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and research collections that pertain to people, places, and events in California, San Jose, and Santa Clara County history. The A-Z index is helpful if you are not sure of spelling. More about the Index

San José Mercury News Historical Archive (Newsbank)

Digital access to archived issues of the San Jose Mercury News; full-page scans include articles, obituaries, classifieds, and other advertising.

House and Property Research

A guide to resources for property research

Genealogy Tips

A guide to genealogy resources in the area

Obituary Searching

Obituary-searching tips and resources.

Santa Clara County History Organizations

Institutions that have a mission of preserving Santa Clara County history.

Timeline of San José History

A timeline of significant dates in San José history

Media Archive

Browse our audiovisual collection, including documentaries, radio spots, TV news features, and more.

Top Collections

Aerial Photography

The aerial collection includes oblique and flyover aerials.

Building Permits

San Jose building permits in print, digitized, and on microfilm.

Directories, City of San Jose and Vicinity

This collection includes city directories for San José, San Francisco, and other cities in print, on microfilm, or online as well as Haines Criss Cross directories and phone books.

Newspapers and Clippings

This collection includes clipping files, scrapbooks and microfilm of area newspapers.


The Historic Photograph Collection includes over 2,500 historical images focused on San Jose and Santa Clara County.

School Yearbooks

This collection includes yearbooks from high schools, middle schools and universities within Santa Clara County.

Latest Blogs

eSpotlight - Pressbooks for a Family History Album

Use Pressbooks and SJPL history and genealogy resources to tell your story.

SJ eLibrary
03/14/2023 - 12:00 AM

Looking Back: Raccoons and Possums and Skunks, oh my!

Ralph looks at the wildlife that can be found in our San Jose neighborhoods.

Ralph Pearce
02/27/2023 - 9:00 AM

Junk History: Rediscovering San Jose’s 20th Century Businesses

Discover San Jose's past with the California Room's Junk History exhibit. Available through Tue., May 16.

Shane Curtin
02/15/2023 - 3:30 PM