California Digital Newspapers

The state of California dates back to the 1840s with the first gold rush and even earlier under Spanish rule. Many people over the decades have lived and worked in this very physically large state. So with the opportunity to search a massive collection of the California newspapers is a great chance to learn additional information about any relatives who lived in this state. Approximately 534,000 newspaper pages with 6.2 million articles make up the California Digital Newspaper Collection published from 1846 to 1922.

Included is the first California newspaper, the Californian, along with the first daily California newspaper, theDaily Alta California. Overall about 27 different newspaper covering numerous time periods are in the collection. Papers from San Francisco, Monterey, San Diego, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, just to name a few are online.

Your searching can be done with the main search box. Place a town, a surname, a full name or a time period. At the upper tool bar you can also search by newspaper titles, which offers a listing of the different papers and their dates. Or use the tab titled ‘dates’ to search any of the newspaper during a certain time frame. You will see a year and a listing for each month. Interested in California articles for May 20, 1892, there were four full newspaper issues.

When you click on an issue, the full page and each of the following pages will appear. To make the reading of an article even easier, just click on an article or an advertisement and to the left will be the transcription of that item. This makes it very simple to operate and read. You can even do a ‘highlight, copy and paste’ of the transcribed text. If you right-click on an article there is quite a few other options to select. The next day’s issue can also be viewed by going to ‘issue’ and arrow to the right or left.

To help in locating a topic in an issue select the left tab ‘Issue Content’ and there will be a listing of all the article contents by topics. Click on a topic and it will take you right to the article (no matter what size) and it is highlighted. This includes advertisements which are a great source of ancestors who owned businesses.

If you do a general search, you can place a name and narrow the location and date field in the advanced search box. If a surname is not common, select all the locations and make the date field broad. Using a person’s full name or two words, place quote marks in the search.

Overall, one of the best digital newspaper collections around and one well worth using for any California ancestors.Photo: AD ‘Vienna Bakery’ operated by R. Cohen of Los Angeles in August 1889. A great find if you had an ancestor named R. Cohen in this part of Calif. In the 1880s.

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