May 2024

As a scholarly online digital archive and evolving thematic research collection, the California Indian History website timelines and educational resources include primary sources from a growing number of public domain online archives and other collections.

As of April 2020, there are 4,900 citations entered onto the timelines (1846 – 1877). Seventeen percent (17%) are citations only for primary sources in the Indian War Papers (IWP) collection (828 entries) located at the California State Archives in Sacramento, California. Forty-one (41) California newspapers are represented from twenty-four (24) counties:

  • Amador Ledger Dispatch (Amador: Jackson, 1855-1870)
  • Daily Alta California (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1849-1891)
  • Weekly Alta California (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1849)
  • Butte Record (Butte: Bidwell, Oroville, Chico, 1853-1858)
  • The California Star (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1847-1848)
  • The California Star and Californian (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1848)
  • The Californian (Monterey: Monterey, 1846-1848)
  • Empire County Argus (El Dorado: Coloma, 1853-1856)
  • Georgetown News (El Dorado: Georgetown, 1854-1856)
  • Grass Valley Telegraph (Nevada: Grass Valley, 1853-1858)
  • Humboldt Weekly Times (Klamath; Humboldt: Eureka, Union; Arcata, 1854-1869)
  • Los Angeles Star (Los Angeles: Los Angeles, 1851-1864)
  • Marin County Tocsin (Marin: San Rafael, 1861-1879)
  • Marin Journal (Marin: San Rafael, 1861-1879)
  • Mariposa Gazette (Mariposa: Mariposa, 1861-1879)
  • Marysville Daily Appeal (Yuba: Marysville, 1860-1876)
  • Marysville Daily Evening Herald (Yuba: Marysville, 1850-1858)
  • Weekly Mountain Democrat (El Dorado: Placerville, 1854-1860)
  • Napa County Reporter (Napa: Napa, 1857-1865)
  • Nevada Democrat (Nevada: Nevada City, 1856-1862)
  • Nevada Journal (Nevada: Nevada City, 1851-1863)
  • Oroville Weekly Union (Butte: Oroville, 1863-1864)
  • Petaluma Weekly and Sonoma County Journal (Sonoma: Petaluma, 1856-1864)
  • Placer Herald (Sacramento: Sacramento, 1849-1850; Placer: Auburn, 1852-1868)
  • Placer Times (Sacramento: Sacramento; El Dorado: Placerville, 1849-1850)
  • Red Bluff Beacon (Tehama: Red Bluff, 1860-1874)
  • Red Bluff Independent (Tehama: Red Bluff, 1860-1864)
  • Sacramento Transcript (Sacramento: Sacramento, 1850-1851)
  • Sacramento Union (Sacramento: Sacramento, 1851-1879)
  • San Diego Herald (San Diego, 1851-1859)
  • San Francisco Daily Herald (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1852-1856)
  • San Francisco Evening Bulletin (San Francisco: San Francisco, 1855-1864)
  • San Joaquin Republican (San Joaquin: Stockton, 1851-1872)
  • Shasta Courier (Shasta: Redding, 1853-1873)
  • Sierra Citizen (Sierra: Downieville, 1854-1860)
  • Sonoma County Journal (Sonoma: Petaluma, 1856-1864)
  • Sonoma Democrat (Sonoma: Santa Rosa, 1857-1886)
  • Trinity Journal (Trinity: Weaverville, 1854-1866)
  • Tulare County Record (Tulare: Visalia, 1859)
  • Union Democrat (Tuolumne: Sonora, 1854-1870)
  • Visalia Weekly Delta (Tulare: Visalia, 1859-1861)

Note: California became a state on September 9, 1850. The twenty–seven (27) original counties created in 1850 included: San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Branciforte, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Yola [Yolo], Napa, Mendocino, Sacramento, El Dorado, Sutter, Yuba, Butte, Colusi [Colusa], Shasta, Trinity, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Tuolumne, and Mariposa.  Nevada, Placer, and Klamath counties were created in 1851. Siskiyou, Sierra and Tulare Counties were created in 1852.  Humboldt County was created in 1853.  Tehama County was created in 1856.  Del Norte County was created in 1857. Mendocino county was reorganized and administered separately from Sonoma in 1859.  See generally, Owen C. Coy, The Genesis of California Counties (Berkeley: California Historical Survey Commission), 1923.

Listed below are collections represented at this website.

California Indian Historical Resources Project, California State Library

The California Indian Historical Resources Project (CIHRP) was developed over a three-year period (2003-2006) within the larger context of a concerted effort by staff at the California State Library to begin collaborative dialogues with California Native Americans.

The purpose of CIHRP was to provide access to unique archival documents from California’s historical newspapers, federal documents and reports, and State of California legislative materials related to California Indian history located in the collections at the California State Library, Sacramento, California (CSL). The documents are dated from the period of 1847 to 1868; 1920; and 1937. The CIHRP collection includes three CDs of scanned and digitally processed documents derived from CSL’s microfilm collections, along with corresponding limited searchable databases. Unfortunately, as is often the case in the rapidly changing world of technology, the databases are no longer compatible with current operating systems. Nevertheless, the digital images have been scanned, converted into PDFs, and are accessible via the California Indian History timelines.  The CIHRP CD collection includes:

  • Early California Newspapers 1846-1866 – 3,343 items from 28 newspapers located in 17 early California counties.
  • Federal Documents Related to California Indians 1847-1868; 1920 – 396 documents.
  • State of California Indian Legislative History Documents 1849-1863; 1937 – 1,288 documents representing enacted and proposed laws and resolutions, and their corresponding bill histories.

The CIHRP was supported in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), a federal grant program administered by the California State Library.

California Digital Newspaper Collection, University of California, Riverside

The California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC) is a project of the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) at the University of California, Riverside, supported in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the California State Library. The CBSR has received five grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize California newspapers for the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP). The titles digitized as part of the NDNP are available at the CDNC website and at the Library of Congress Chronicling America website. According to the CDNC website, as of May 2024, the CDNC contains 1,254,341 issues comprising of 16,936,173 pages and 52,421,347 articles in historical California newspapers published from 1846 to the present. Four hundred sixty (460) California newspapers are represented in the collection. The collection  contains issues of several current California newspapers that are part of a project to preserve and provide access to contemporary papers.  Some newspapers are embargoed (not available to review), eventually accessible at various dates in the future.

Office of Indian Affairs, 1849-1880, California Superintendency, American Indian Resources Center, County of Los Angeles Public Library

The American Indian Resources Center, County of Los Angeles Public Library (AIRC) has digitized a portion of the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) microfilm set related to California, the Letters of the Office of Indian Affairs, 1849-1880, California Superintendency. The collection contains letters from federal and state government officials and private citizens in California to the Office of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C., on issues relating to California Indians immediately before and during the first 30 years of California’s statehood. The letters’ purpose was to keep the Office informed as to the status and developments in the governance of Indian affairs in California.

AIRC was established in 1979 to meet the informational, cultural and educational needs of Native Americans in Los Angeles County and to make information about them available to the larger community. The AIRC collection is the largest public library collection in the U.S. that focuses on American Indians.

Indian War Papers, Adjutant General’s Office, Military Records, California State Archives, Sacramento, California

The Indian War Papers, 1850-1880 (F3753), originated in the Adjutant General’s Office. These records evidence violence against, and killing of thousands of Indians that was sponsored by the State of California. Local militia and independent companies were usually formed to carry out murdering Indians and eliminating entire villages and rancherias in specific areas of the state. The record group includes militia muster rolls, field reports, claims, correspondence and two volumes of Expenditures for Military Expeditions Against Indians During the Years 1851-59. The documents are public records. However, the California State Archives has not digitized this collection, and there is no online access to these records. The State Archives has microfilmed the documents and for a fee may provide copies of the microfilm reels when requested. The images on the microfilm reels obtained and reviewed for this project often were in very poor condition. Thus, the date entries on the California Indian History website timelines are citations only from an online Indian War Papers Finding Aid that is no longer available.  The finding aid included a description of the documents and the location of the original materials in the California State Archives files. It was created in the early 1980s.

The California State Archives collects, catalogs, preserves, and provides access to the historic records of state government and some local governments. The State Archives collection is primarily composed of records from California state agencies, the Governor’s Office, the State Legislature, and the State Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal. The records are organized under the name of the agency or office that transferred the records to the Archives. The collections also include some private papers that have been donated to the State Archives.

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