California Genealogy Research Guide:
California became a state in 1848, the first California Federal Census was taken in 1850, and every ten years thereafter. The 1890 Census was lost due to fire and water damage, but there are other means of finding ancestors from that era. One of these is called the Great Register, a list of all voters mandated by California's Registry Act of 1866.
Federal Census records include:
- Agriculture Schedules
- Industry Schedules
- Mortality Schedules
- Population Schedules
- Slave Schedules
- Union Veterans Schedules
A state census was taken in 1852 and has added info showing prior residence. A few Missions, cities, and towns have taken special censuses. The California State Archives has this list and the microfilmed records.
The California State Library, California State Archive, and the California Genealogy Society have microfilm copies of Federal Censuses.
- Free Census Extraction Forms - Form formats changed as the years went by. Extraction forms allow you to record information in the same format as the year it was taken.
Ethnic Groups and Church Records:
California has deep roots in the Spanish / Mexican (Hispanic) culture as it was once part of Mexico. Gold hunters who poured in from other countries and settled in California make this a very ethnically diverse state. Some cities such as San Francisco still have ethnic divisions such as "Chinatown" where the culture of the motherland is still remembered and followed. Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California
Counties kept marriage records better than birth and death records before 1905. Early Birth records and the California Death Index (1940-1997) kept by the state are online at Ancestry.com. Divorce records can be obtained from the Clerk of Superior Court in the county where the suite was filed.
California Genealogy Subscriptions Online:
Many websites with genealogy resources for California are available on the Internet. Some offer free databases and other information for the online researcher, but the subscription websites hold a more consistent amount of quality data and offer free trials to that data.