Did You Know?

Heath Painting at the Downtown Branch Library

The "City of Santa Cruz" painting hangs on the stairway landing near the second floor entrance to the Young People's room at the Downtown Branch.

The Santa Cruz Daily Surf reported, "the picture of the City of Santa Cruz, painted by F. L. Heath for exhibition at the ... [More]

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Subject Guides

Local History Resources     Printable PDF Version

Santa Cruz County has a rich and interesting history. In addition to Santa Cruz Public Library, there are many resources in the County for those who are researching local history.

Santa Cruz Public Library

Santa Cruz Public Library has:

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

Watsonville Public Library

275 Main Street, Suite 100
Watsonville, CA 95076

Watsonville Public Library has:

  • The California Agricultural Workers' History Center (CAWHC), located on the 2nd floor of the Watsonville Public Library, is dedicated to raising awareness of the lives of agricultural workers "through their photographs, through people telling their stories." The CAWHC stands as a collaborative work in progress, a place for diverse community participants to come together to use the center for research, but also to help make it a repository for oral histories and academic papers. Public contribution is encouraged. Although honoring and depicting the histories of local farm workers play a significant part in the exhibits and resources of the CAWHC, the scope of the exhibit, and the center itself, extends beyond Watsonville and the Pajaro Valley to encompass the histories and experiences of all agricultural workers in California. Made possible with support from the California State Library, the CAWHC is the brainchild of former Watsonville Mayor Ana Ventura Phares.
  • Special Photo Collection. Early in 1999, the Watsonville Public Library received a grant from the California State Library for a program called Shades of California: Exploring Our History Through Family Photographs. This program, called Shades of Watsonville, provided for the copying and documentation of family photographs from preservation at both the State Library and in the Watsonville Public Library's collection. Binders containing photos copied on Photo Day are available from this special collection for historical research purposes at the library.
  • Watsonville Register-Pajaronian on microfilm
  • Newspaper clipping file consisting of articles collected from a number of publications and featuring stories of local interest. Articles generally range in date from the early 1900's to the present, with some spotty coverage back to the late 1800's
  • Print collection which includes a general Californiana collection, resources and directories for local cemeteries, historic houses, civic organizations, yearbooks, books on local history, etc.
  • Polk Directories and Watsonville City Directories (mostly full coverage back to 1900).

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History Archive/Library

705 Front Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831.429.1964 x17

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

University of California, Santa Cruz - University Library Special Collections

McHenry Library
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

The University Library has collections of pre-statehood documents, scrapbooks and clipping files, photographs and photo albums taken and compiled by local residents and professional studio photographers, and publications by local authors and institutions. Highlights include the Porter Family collection, the Hihn-Younger archive, the Leon Rowland Research collection, and the Regional History Project.

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

University of California, Santa Cruz - Map Room

Science & Engineering Library
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

The University Map Room contains more than 160,000 items, including the region's largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and aerial photographs. Local highlights include Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, late nineteenth century and early twentieth century maps showing landowners, and the Andrew Jackson Hatch 1889 map of Santa Cruz County.

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

Capitola Historical Museum

410 Capitola Avenue
Capitola, CA 95010

The Capitola Museum maintains extensive collections of photographs and artifacts related to Capitola's history, and offers changing exhibits on the history and art of the area, as well as on special seasonal and topical themes. Museum grounds now include a reconstructed cottage from the era of the early 20th century beach resort.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Newspaper clipping files on subjects related to Capitola, Aptos, Live Oak, Santa Cruz, and Watsonville.
  • Binders of newspaper articles, 1950s-1970s, indexed by topic. Two volumes are a collection of news clippings related to Capitola city incorporation and early city history. Four volumes of the Bakalian collection consist of 1970s news clippings on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors; Santa Cruz County planning, LAFCO, Soquel, Aptos, and Scotts Valley; County Proposition 20, court actions, and property rights; and the City of Santa Cruz, including planning, city council, elections, Lighthouse field, and Wilder Ranch.
  • Searchable database of dates and photo numbers from the Ed Webber/Vester Dick photograph collection at Covello and Covello Photography. The database is only a partial list from the entire collection, and contains no actual photographs. However, it can be searched by topics and themes, such as "disasters," "tourism," and "slice of life." Some outstanding pictures are listed simply under "wow." The list is useful for locating roughly approximate dates for when the newsworthy photos appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel with associated stories.
  • Capitola photographs, arranged by decade. Most are copies from other sources, and only a few are copyright free. All may be viewed for reference. In addition, the following collections also consist of copied pictures:
    • Van Zuiden collection: Capitola, 1876-1960s.
    • Lionel T. Lenox collection: Santa Cruz, Twin Lakes, Capitola, 1917-1926.
    • Frank Daubenbiss collection: Downtown Santa Cruz, 1950s.

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

Aptos Museum

7605-B Old Dominion Court
Aptos, CA 95003

Last updated April 28, 2009 by SH

San Lorenzo Valley Museum

12547 Highway 9, P.O. Box 576
Boulder Creek, CA 95006

The San Lorenzo Valley Museum's mission is to preserve the history of the San Lorenzo Valley through collecting and exhibiting artifacts, gathering historical information, and providing education through the Museum and its educational outreach programs. The Museum collection includes:

  • People (family) folders containing journals, photographs, guest books, newspaper articles, letters, etc.
  • Clothing and other textiles used by local families
  • Logging and lumber artifacts
  • Railroad artifacts
  • Household items such as furniture, china, glass, silverware, grooming items, and games and toys that were used in local historical households
  • Artwork by local artists
  • Photographs arranged by subject
  • Maps (Sanborn, town planning)
  • Newspapers
  • Business artifacts (account books, deeds)
  • Genealogical and biographical records of pioneer families

Last updated April 30, 2009 by SH

Agricultural History Project

P.O. Box 1181
Watsonville, CA 96077
2601 East Lake Ave, Watsonville (entrance to the Santa Cruz County fairgrounds)

Collections include:

  • Henry Washburn Annual Reports 1917-1941, 1953. These reports document activities of the farm advisor, changes in agriculture, erosion control efforts, dairy herd improvement, 4-H Club activities, black & white photos of the county during those years.
  • Henry Washburn photos and films. Most are from the 1930s and 1940s, and are mostly agriculture but include scenes from around the county.
  • Apple and vegetable labels. Approximately 300. Most are local.
  • Tyler Collection. The USDA and UC Extension Service Bulletins on various crops, livestock, poultry, insects, and diseases. Some are from the late 1800s; many are from the 1920s through 1940s. Also, booklets on irrigation and water use, land use, soil surveys and Santa Cruz County studies.
  • Clipping File. Agriculture-related articles. Most are from the last 5-10 years.
  • Regional History Project. 17 agriculture-related oral histories. A UCSC project.
  • Farm equipment identification. Books on plows, tractors, implements and hand tools.
  • California Historical Society Quarterly. Includes indexes.
  • Yearbook of Agriculture. Intermittent from 1884 through the 1970s.

Last updated April 30, 2009 by SH

Pajaro Valley Historical Association

332 E. Beach St., P.O. Box 623
Watsonville, CA 95077

The PVHA's major activities are the management of the Bockius-Orr House and the operation of the Snyder Archive and the Volck Museum. The Snyder Archive holdings are available on a limited basis for use by the public for history programs, public lectures, and offsite exhibits. The Archive holdings include the following items dealing with the Pajaro Valley:

  • Books, manuscripts, newspapers, directories, and other printed materials
  • Historic posters, photographs, postcards, albums and artifacts
  • Maps, oral histories, genealogies, and WHS yearbooks
  • Historic materials related to agriculture, business, local schools, organizations, and families.
  • Special collections including Betty Lewis, William Weeks, and Charley Parkhurst

The Bockius-Orr House contains the area's largest collection of historic clothing and textiles. The Bockius-Orr campus, including the gardens, is available for tours and events.

Last updated April 30, 2009 by SH

Scotts Valley Historical Society


The SVHS has some information and photographs on their website. The society also provides assistance to persons interested in researching the history of their homes, neighborhoods, or pioneer families.

Last updated June 4, 2014 by DC

California State Library


The State Library has an extensive California History collection which includes books, newspapers, periodicals, manuscript collections, maps, and ephemera. Some of these items can be found using the catalog. Only about 10% of the library's photographs are included in the picture catalog, and only some of them are available for online viewing. However, there is a considerable number of Santa Cruz photographs available online.

Last updated April 30, 2009 by SH

Covello & Covello Photography


Covello & Covello Photography was founded in 1938 and was well known locally as the news photography service that provided the photos for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Their photo collection is recognized as one of the most extensive photographic archives of the Santa Cruz area. The Capitola Museum has a searchable database to some of this collection.

Last updated April 30, 2009 by SH

Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County

224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831.427.7707 ext. 5794

The Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County provides a collection at the Central Branch of Santa Cruz Public Libraries. There are more than 9,000 books, microfilm, periodicals, CD-ROMS and other items in the collection that cover Santa Cruz County, as well as every state and many countries.

These resources are available to researchers during normal library hours. Volunteers are available to help beginners, locate materials, and suggest research techniques. Call ahead to verify volunteer hours.

Last updated July 21, 2010 by DC