Not everyone has ancestors who have lived in California, but many others do have relatives from this 'Golden State' of the West.
A fabulous online site, the Online Archive of California (OAC), is truly worth a visit since it has many resources to select from for the genealogical or historical researcher.
It is set-up to allow a search by a couple different methods. One is by selecting from the list of 150 institutions, libraries, universities, museums, then reviewing that they have to offer. They clearly mark what items, photos or document are online and those where the researcher must contact the institution directly.
Another method is by a title or by using a map. By using a map, the researcher can click on a location, such as the City of Bakersfield and everything available relating to Bakersfield and the Kern County will be available. There will be a description of each the collections.
The search engine on the site is the best method to see all available resources for a specific topic. For example, placing the terms '1906 earthquake' produced some 613 different collections with 9,955 items. Those that can be viewed online are clearly indicated. The researcher can even narrow the search down to a date or decade.
The selection of photos is outstanding, each with a title, the name if known of a contributor, the date and the contributing institution. The images can be enlarged, saved and printed. Some 170,000 images and copies of documents are part of the online collections of the OAC.
If a researcher with California photos, documents and papers would like to have their items added to the OAC collections, they can contact one of the 150 institutions participating and have the donated California artifacts scanned for future placement with the OAC. All of this is done to offer free public accessibility to the information about the numerous collections and provide many with direct online access.