The California State Archives collects, catalogs, preserves, and provides access to the historic records of state government and some local governments. The Archives collection is primarily composed of records from California state agencies, the governor's office, the state legislature, and the State Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal. The records are organized under the name of the agency or office that transferred the records to the Archives. The collections also include some private papers that have been donated to the Archives. As of January 2009, the collection consists of millions of paper documents, maps, photographs, three–dimensional artifacts, and records in other formats such as audiotape and videotape.
The State Archives has specialized programs to collect and preserve records of state government. The Legislative Archives Program, Court Records Program and Governor's Records Program work with the three branches of Government to identify records of enduring value that should be preserved in the Archives. The State Records Appraisal Program works to identify and collect records of state agencies.
Each year hundreds of researchers contact and visit the California State Archives seeking documentation to support their historical investigation. Reference Desk staff help researchers identify collections that are most relevant to their area of interest and retrieve those records from a secure storage area for researchers to view in the large Research Room.
Public education and outreach are also important elements of the State Archives' mission. In October of each year, the public can attend the Archives Month Open House, enjoy a behind–the–scenes tour of the facility and learn more about the archival profession and other archival repositories in California. Together with the Sacramento Genealogical Society and the Genealogical and Historical Council of Sacramento Valley, the State Archives also hosts Family History Day to introduce the public to the exciting world of genealogical research.
The State Archives continually works to promote the development of the archival profession through the Western Archives Institute (co–sponsored by the Society of California Archivists) and the Graduate Internship Program.
The State Archives occupies a facility one block south of the State Capitol as part of the Secretary of State office complex. Completed in 1995, the 170,000 square foot building has six floors of environmentally controlled stacks, including a number of specialized vaults, which house the Archives' collections. The building also has facilities for preservation and research use of archival materials.