Research Library and Archives

The Collection Center and Research Library & Archives are currently closed to the public; and responses may be delayed to queries related to research or historical image use/reproduction.

Contact us at to schedule an appointment or ask questions about our collection. You should receive a response within 24 hours. Appointments are available Monday-Friday. We are a staff of one, so we have limited resources to answer historical questions or conduct research on your behalf.

If you are conducting genealogical research, we highly recommend you start with the Santa Clara County Historical and Genealogical Society, who will conduct research for you for a small fee.

For property research, please first consult the California Room’s guide to historical property research.

Research Fees, Image Rights & Reproductions

Document Scanning

We are happy to provide scanned documents (excluding images, and provided the documents are suitable for scanning). If you have paid for a research request, the cost of scanning is included. For other requests, the first 10 pages are free; after that, the cost is $0.10/page.

Photographic Prints

History San Jose does not sell photographic prints directly. We have partnered with Zenfolio to provide high quality prints, canvases, and gift items at You may request images from our collection be added to Zenfolio for purchase.

Publication & Reproduction

  1. You are welcome to use watermarked images from our PastPerfect Online catalog for exhibits, websites, presentations, etc. There is no cost or paperwork involved.
  2. If you wish to use high resolution images for a publication or exhibit, you must complete the HSJ Publication Request form and pay the appropriate fee. We will then share the files with you via Google drive (scanned between 600 dpi to 1200 dpi depending on the size of the original).
  3. Fees are $25/image for publication or use in film; $125 for use as corporate artwork; no charge for non-profit organizations using the images for exhibit. Other fees may be negotiated.

What is available at the Research Library?

History San Jose is a non-profit organization under contract with the City of San Jose to manage its historic collection; while we are partially funded by the City, we are neither City employees nor are we an official records repository. We offer a rich collection of personal papers, government and organizational records, maps, ephemera, architectural records, photographs and audiovisual material dating from the 1780s to the present. All of the materials have either been donated by individuals/organizations, or transferred from city or county government for long-term storage.

Guide to Property Research at History San Jose
Biographical Research Resource Guide

Search our Collection

Note: We are working to add our entire archives to online catalogs, but only a portion is available at the moment. If you do not find what you are looking for, please ask!

Online Catalog

Our online catalog includes detailed descriptions and many scanned images of library, archives, and photographic material. It is the best place to search for photographs and individual items.

Manuscript/Archival collection guides

Online Archive of California – guides to archival collections at History San Jose and other California institutions

Archival footage and sound recordings

Indexes to Government Records

Please note we do not hold any naturalization records.

Indexes to Other Materials

Other Resources

Photographers and Photographers Studios in the San Jose Area (circa 1856-1927)
San Jose and Santa Clara County Selected Bibliography 2019 (PDF)

California Room at King Library

The San Jose Public Library’s California Room is a source for California and local San Jose history. Their website provides a guide to researching your old house, and access to other records including digitized Sanborn maps. Visit in person for access to microfilmed newspapers, history books, Sanborn Maps, City Directories, yearbooks, clippings files, and more.

Santa Clara County Historical & Genealogical Society

The SCCHGS is located at the City of Santa Clara Central Park Library, and has a large collection of genealogy resources along with a great historical collection available for the public’s use. Their website provides access to online indexes and genealogical research help. They will conduct genealogical research for you for a small fee.

Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office

If you are looking for vital records, real estate history and maps, please start at the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office, as they also hold documents from 1851 onward.

Santa Clara County Archives

The County Archives collection comprises documents officially recorded by the County Recorder/County Clerk’s office, including property records, marriage licenses, probates, wills, court records, jail records, and much more. Many of their databases are searchable online.

Search California Newspapers

The California Digital Newspaper Collection is a project of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) at the University of California, Riverside, providing keyword search of 72,729 digitized issues.

Santa Clara County Surveyor’s Office Record Index/Maps Index

Search County maps and other records from the County Surveyor, with helpful links to other resources

California State Archives

The State Archives holds many local government records as well as family history information such as probate, deeds, and naturalization records, military records, and mental health records from Agnews. See also The Historical Records of County Government in California.

California Department of Public Health – Vital Records

California birth, death, fetal death, still birth, marriage and divorce records are maintained by the California Department of Public Health Vital Records.