I’ve added a ton of new links to the “California Links” page. There are many resources specific to individual counties and cities, and quite a few immigration records for San Francisco and San Diego. There are a good number of links to newspapers for the state.
In addition to all of the digital collections for vital records, I would recommend checking out California, Local government records at the California State Archives, for an “Inventory of County and City Records Available at the California State Archives”.
Here is an example of what you can find in that resource: Stanislaus County – Probate, 1854–1941*; Bonds, Letters, and Wills, 1911–1921*; Naturalization, 1856–1978*; Deeds, 1854–1902*; Homesteads, 1860–1904*; Birth, 1873–1905*; Marriage, 1854–1920*; Declaration of Intention, 1854–1976*. While these records are not necessarily digitized (parts are included in various databases), they are available onsite at the State Archives.
If you are doing California research you’ll want to bookmark this page!
Here is a reference table to help you see at a glance when each state in the Mountain West was first a territory and then a state. I have also added a column for history which gives some key dates in each state’s history. Feel free to copy this table for your own use.
After you have pinpointed where your ancestor was living, working, or passing through at a given time, it is important to find out what country/state/ territory/county had jurisdiction in that locality on that date. That will tell you where the records can be found—or at least who was creating the records. You may be surprised to find that Arizona ancestor in New Mexico territorial records, or that Nevada ancestor in Utah territorial records. And Colorado ancestors? Take your pick of Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, or New Mexico territories…
Stay tuned for some advice on where to look for the records, especially territorial records—an important record group for research in any western state. Click on the map link in the menu bar to access map resources which will be helpful in determining boundaries and jurisdictions.