California Digital Archives

Welcome to the California Digital Archives! Here you will find multiple digital resources (both collections and exhibits) and experience this dramatic step forward for the California State Archives. While just a portion of the State Archives' collection will be available online, our goal is to digitize more material and share it with the people of California and the world. Amazing photographs, colorful trademark specimens, and other original documents reveal past events. Some may shed an unflattering light on past actions but our goal is to present an accurate reflection of history. This will allow us to learn from the past and understand how it evolved into the realities of the present. We hope you enjoy these glimpses into California's history.


The William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection:

Documenting Early 20th Century History in Photographs

Capturing the rich history of the early twentieth century, the William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection (Identification #96-07-08) highlights well-known landmarks, historic events, and scenic vistas from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, from the Deep South to Canada, and from Mexico to Cuba. Scenes across the Golden State are captured in stunning shots from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite and the Central Coast to Southern California cities. The collection features nearly 3,000 photographs taken by native Californians William M. and Grace McCarthy from approximately 1905 to 1938. The McCarthys traveled extensively during the early years of automobile travel, as newly constructed highways connected people and places throughout the United States and beyond, providing pictorial documentation of a pivotal period in our nation's history.


Online Exhibits

Online Collections


California Audio Visual Preservation Program (CAVPP)

In partnership with 108 libraries, archives and museums, the California Preservation Program provides digitization, preservation and access services for historic California audiovisual recordings. The "California Light and Sound" collection of recordings provides "glimpses and whispers" of our state's rich audiovisual heritage.  The Project gathers best archival practices for moving image and sound preservation and establishes low-cost, practical, standards to help collecting organizations move from the analog age to the digital age. Access is provided by the Internet Archive for teaching, research and study. Storage of files for long-term preservation is provided by the California Audiovisual Preservation Project.  Click on the link below to view the 118 items from the California State Archives’ collection that the California Preservation Program has digitized as part of the CAVPP.