The California Legislature passed on March 30, 1878, An Act to provide for a Convention to frame a new Constitution for the State of California (Chapter 490, Statutes of 1877–78). The Working Papers of the California Constitutional Convention of 1878 and 1879 contain the records produced during the convention and include administrative records, minutes, resolutions, and other document types.


The collection is organized into several distinct parts, including administrative files (3 file folders), committee files (12 file folders), memorials (5 file folders), reports (12 file folders), petitions (45 file folders), resolutions (5 file folders), amendments and articles (82 file folders), printer's drafts of articles (10 file folders), and minutes (126 file folders).

First–time users should consult the comprehensive Finding Aid to the collection. Prepared by State Archives' staff, this guide provides a wealth of information about the records and the political context of their creation. It includes a background summary relating to the convention, a listing of all elected delegates with their age, birthplace, residence, occupation, political party affiliation, and district represented, a listing of each committee with its respective representatives, a chronological chart depicting the dates when each article was reported, debated, amended, and adopted, and a record series–level description of the papers, which includes the number of file folders, identification number, and a summary description of the contents.


Two indices are included as well in the finding aid: convention resolutions are indexed numerically by number and provide subject, author, and date introduced; amendments are indexed numerically by number and provide subject, author, and date introduced.

If users have a particular subject to focus their research, it will be valuable to consult the Subject Index, which was created by State Archives' staff in preparation for the digitization of the records. The index is arranged alphabetically by subject term and includes the subject, identification number, and box, folder, and page references where the subject material is located. Note that many of the subject terms do not include a page reference since not all the documents in the collection contain page numbers.


Users who want to search the collection by type of document should consult the Document Type Index. This index includes a link to an identification number, and other information as needed. Minutes, for example, which are organized chronologically by date, are broken down to the folder level with corresponding span dates.


Finally, the three–volume Debates and Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the State of California by E.B. Willis and P.K. Stockton (Sacramento: State Printing Office, 1881) may be consulted for the information it contains about actual discussions during the convention. All three volumes may be found at the California State Library and online via the Internet Archive:

The State Archives gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the California Supreme Court Historical Society that made the digitization of the working papers possible.