Archives Alert! The California State Archives' Research Room is open to the public from 9:30 am-4:00 pm, Monday-Friday, excluding state holidays. Please contact for additional information, questions, or assistance.

The California State Archives

California's first legislature, meeting in 1849–50, charged the Secretary of State to receive "…all public records, registered maps, books, papers, rolls, documents and other writings . . . which appertain to or are in any way connected with the political history and past administration of the government of California." The Act Concerning the Public Archives (Chapter 1, Statutes of 1850 (PDF)) was the first law signed by California's first governor on January 5, 1850. The California State Archives, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State, continues to serve in the spirit of those early instructions, providing a repository for the state's permanent governmental records as well as other materials documenting California history. The California State Archives serves a wide variety of researchers whose interests range from legislative intent and public policy to genealogy and railroad history in California.

Archives staff continually organize and describe the records we receive to provide easier and faster access for researchers. Visit the Collections & Catalogs page for more information.

More about the State Archives

Records Management and Appraisal (RMA)

The Records Management and Appraisal (RMA) unit is composed of the California State Records and Information Management Program (CalRIM) and the State Records Appraisal Program (SRAP).  RMA assists State entities in achieving these efficient records management programs. CalRIM reviews Records Retention Schedules (STD. 73); establishes guidelines, including those for the management of electronic records; provides consultation; evaluates the effectiveness of existing records management programs; and assists in the establishment of new records programs.  SRAP reviews Records Retention Schedules for records with historical importance for the history of California; accepts records with administrative, fiscal, legal, and/or historical value into the State Archives; provides consultation with State entities on how to appraise their historical records.

More about RMA

Reference Services

Research RoomThe California State Archives is a public research facility and we encourage you to come in person to do your research. If, however, you are unable to visit, Reference Services will perform a limited amount of research for you. We do not have the staffing available to do in-depth research or to look for a specific document within a record series. Generally, this means that staff will identify the series most likely to contain the information requested.

Telephone, email, fax, and "snail mail" requests are worked on in the order in which they are received. We do not expedite requests or do "rush" orders. Generally, the research on these requests can be completed in 3-5 business days, but additional time may be required to photocopy and mail the records. Before submitting your research request or planning your visit, please read information provided on the linked pages below.

Research Room Hours
The Archives Research Room is open to the public Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is closed on state holidays.

Contact Information

To contact the Reference Desk, call 916-653-2246 or send an email.

Collections & Catalogs

The California State Archives houses records that document the broad scope of California government and its impact on the people of the state. The collection consists of textual records by the millions (in boxes and bound volumes) and graphic records by the thousands (maps, architectural drawings, photographs). In addition to these paper-based records, the collection contains audio and visual materials, both analog and digital, and electronic records in a variety of formats. Records are continuously added to the Archives. Descriptions of the records can be found on Minerva, our online descriptive catalog, as well as the Online Archive of California.

California Freedom Summer 2024

Finding Freedom Summer Traveling Exhibit

Celebrate the spirit of Freedom Summer by learning about the historic civil rights milestone through a number of exhibits, materials, and activities at the California Secretary of State Complex.

California Archives Search Portal

This new tool provides increased access to our digital collections and exhibits. The search tool currently uses data from Omeka S.

Grant Funded Projects

The California State Archives has received grants from several organizations to assist with the preservation of and access to historical records, in a variety of formats.

Cal Channel Video Archives

The California Channel Video Archives

Minerva Online Catalog

Minerva Online Catalog logo

Minerva is a descriptive catalog of the records held at the California State Archives. Start exploring today!

Athena Records Retention Schedules

Athena Records Retention Schedules logo

Athena contains scanned records retention schedules for state agencies.

Educational Resources

Explore resources that have been created to introduce students to the topics found in our collections and online exhibits.


Other Resources for Researchers

There are many online resources available for research and informational purposes. These links are provided as a courtesy and are not endorsed, operated, or owned by the Secretary of State's Office.

Contact Information

California State Archives building

California State Archives
1020 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

The California State Archives' Research Room is open to the public at a limited capacity from 9:30 am-4:00 pm, Monday-Friday, excluding state holidays. Please contact for additional information, questions, or assistance.

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