California State Guide
Finding Aids to Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture: California Collections
The Archive of Folk Culture holds approximately 2700 collections consisting of more than 150,000 sound recordings and 3 million items. At this time only a portion of them have catalog records and finding aids. Contact the Folklife Reading Room for additional information about collections.
Folklife in Your State: California
The American Folklife Center contains rich and varied materials from California documenting the diversity of the state's traditions. California's Local Legacies Projects, an exploration of local traditions and celebrations, is available on the Center's Web page.
National Sampler: Selections from California Collections
The American Folklife Center's holdings of materials from individual states are so extensive that exploration of them can be challenging. To provide an introductory tour for Library of Congress patrons, educators, researchers, and the general public — and to display some of the wonderful audio and visual treasures amassed over the past eight decades — the Center is undertaking the online National Sampler Project.
America's Library is especially designed for elementary
and middle school students. The site contains a wide variety of information related to California.
Explore the States
State of California
Jump Back in Time
Gold Discovered in California, January 24, 1848
John C. Frémont Was Found Guilty of Mutiny, January 31, 1848
Pioneer Life in Sacramento, November 25, 1849
The Panic of 1857 Began August 24, 1857
The First Transcontinental Telegraph System Was Completed, October 24, 1861
Yosemite Land Grant Signed, June 30, 1864
John Muir and the Sierra, July 19, 1869
The Great San Francisco Earthquake, April 18, 1906
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge Was Completed and Opened, May 27, 1937
Attack on the United States, September 11, 2001
American Treasures of the Library of Congress
California as an Island
One of the major geographic misconceptions originating during the discovery and exploration of North America was the depiction of California as an island.
Tessaku was a magazine mimeographed in a relocation camp located in a remote and desolate part of northern California, a few miles from the Oregon border. While many of the camps had community newspapers, internees also published magazines.
The Genius of
Frank Lloyd Wright
One of the great innovators in the history of architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with new design vocabularies and building systems. Shown here are three examples of his imaginative genius. In the 1920s Wright designed a number of houses in California using precast "textile" concrete blocks reinforced by an internal system of bars.
Map of California
Williamson's sketch is an authentic treasure map of the California gold regions. He included it in a letter East written August 23, 1849, when he was in the forefront of the 1849 gold rush.
Sacramento's rise from settlement to state capital began with the discovery of gold in January 1848, some fifty miles northeast at John Sutter's sawmill.
Wagon Train to the West
Daniel Jenks traveled to Yreka, California, twice from his native Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1849 he joined thousands of '49ers who poured into California by sailing around Cape Horn.
1492: An Ongoing Voyage
Frank Lloyd Wright:
Designs for an American Landscape, 1922-1932
The exhibition 1492: An Ongoing Voyage describes both pre- and post-contact America, as well as the Mediterranean world at the same time. The First Map of California is included in the Inventing America section of the exhibition.
During the 1920s, as the five remarkable projects featured in this exhibition show, Frank Lloyd Wright developed architectural prototypes of far-reaching consequence. Exploring advanced building technologies and untried geometric patterns, he conceived rural and suburban building complexes that effectively restructured their sites in a manner calculated to heighten their natural grandeur. The exhibition includes the following designs for:
A.M. Johnson Desert Compound, Grapevine Canyon, California, 1924
Doheny Ranch Development, Beverly Hills, California, 1923
Lake Tahoe Summer Colony, Emerald Bay, California, 1923
John Bull and Uncle Sam
A joint project of the Library of Congress and The British Library, the John Bull and Uncle Sam exhibition brings together for the first time treasures from the two greatest libraries in the English-speaking world in an exploration of selected time periods and cultural movements that provide unique insights into the relationship of the United States and Great Britain. The Exploration and Settlement section includes the satire A Goodnatured Hint about California by Alfred Crowquill.
Los Angeles Mapped
The historical maps in this exhibition provide a guide to some of the most remarkable stories of the city’s history: its discovery, its growth, and its industries, as seen by explorers, engineers, artists, residents, and boosters.
Rivers, Edens, Empires: Lewis & Clark and the Revealing of America
On April 7, 1805, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark left Fort Mandan for points west, beginning the process of "filling in the canvas" of America. This exhibition features the Library's rich collections of exploration material documenting the quest to connect the East and the West by means of a waterway passage.The Narrative of the Adventures of Zenas Leonard: Native of Clearfield County, Pa., who spent five years in Trapping for furs, Trading with the Indians, &c., &c., of the Rocky Mountains, written by Himself includes information about his amazing adventures with Joseph R. Walker's expedition to California.
The Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands
The Atlantic World: America and the Netherlands explores the history of the Dutch presence in America and the interactions between the United States and the Netherlands from Henry Hudson's 1609 voyage to the post-World War II period. The project is a cooperative effort between the Library of Congress and the National Library of the Netherlands, which in turn enlisted the participation of other leading Dutch libraries, museums, and archives. Search the project to find items related to California, including the Map of California shown as an island.
France In America
Conceived in partnership with France’s national library, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, France in America /France en Amérique is a bilingual digital library made available by the Library of Congress. It explores the history of the French presence in North America from the first decades of the sixteenth century to the end of the nineteenth century. Search the project to find items related to California, including The Gold Seekers. A Tale of California by Gustave Aimard.
Meeting of Frontiers: Siberia, Alaska, and the American West
Meeting of Frontiers tells the story of the American exploration and settlement of the West, the parallel exploration and settlement of Siberia and the Russian Far East, and the meeting of the Russian-American frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Project partners include the Library of Congress, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Russian State Library, the National Library of Russia, and more than twenty libraries, archives, and museums located in cities in Siberia and the Russian Far East. Search the project to find items related to California, including the Report about a voyage to California.
Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier
Parallel Histories: Spain, the United States, and the American Frontier is a bilingual, multi-format English-Spanish digital library site that explores the interactions between Spain and the United States in America from the fifteenth to the early nineteenth centuries. The project presents in digital format books, maps, prints and photographs, manuscripts, and other documents from the collections of the partner libraries. Five main themes related to the history of Spain and the parallel histories between the United States and Spain are illuminated: Exploration and Early Settlement, Colonization and Settlement, Meeting of Cultures and Religious/Evangelical Activities, American Revolution, and Mutual Perceptions. Search the project to find items related to California, including Papers regarding California.
This site allows you to search and view newspaper pages from 1836-1922 from more than 20 states and the District of Columbia. Search this collection to find selected newspaper articles that mention events in California.
Bibliographies and Guides
This site provides the names of all current state poets
laureate of the United States. It also includes a history
of the laureateship in each state, as well the District
of Columbia, and attempts to provide a comprehensive listing
of all prior state poets laureate. Included is information on the position of State Poet Laureate in California.
to Law Online
Guide to Law Online, prepared by the Law Library of
Congress Public Services Division, is an annotated guide
to sources of information on government and law available
online. It includes selected links to useful and reliable
sites for legal information on U.S states and territories,
Americana: Selected Images from the Collections of the Library
The image lists includes prints and photographs relating
to historical events to 1899; general subjects such as
education, daily life, miners and mining; and views of
U.S. locations (text and images). It is being prepared for the Internet in stages. Images of California are included.
and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)
Search PPOC using the subject heading United
States--California to find digital images related to
California, such as prints, photographs, and political cartoons. Search in PPOC using the term California or names of cities, towns, and sites to locate additional
A comprehensive look at America's history through primary
sources. Below are a few examples of resources pertaining to California.
Adventures of an Overland Journey to California
California: A Trip Across the Plains
California: For Health, Pleasure, and Residence
David L. Phillips: "What California Railroads Have Done"
Maps of California and Oregon, 1846-1876
Mary Cone Describes the Chinaman in California
The feature provides an introduction to the study of immigration to the United States. It is far from the complete story, and focuses only on the immigrant groups that arrived in greatest numbers during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Lyrical Legacy helps teachers explore eighteen American songs and poems from the digital collections of the Library of Congress. Each song and poem is represented by an original primary source document, along with historical background information and, in many cases, sound recordings and alternate versions. The song "Sunny California" is included in this presentation.
Primary Sources by State
The Library of Congress has rich documents and artifacts
from every state, the U.S. territories, and the District
of Columbia. Click on California to view historic artifacts and cultural materials from
Creating a Primary Source Archive: All History Is Local
Examine the interplay between national,
state, local, and personal history. Students produce a
digital collection of primary sources from their family
or local community based on the collections in American
Exploring Community Through Local History: Oral Stories, Landmarks and Traditions
Students explore the local history of the community in which they live through written and spoken stories; through landmarks such as buildings, parks, restaurants, or businesses; and through traditions such as food, festivals and other events of the community or of individual families.
Local History: Mapping My Spot
Students create their town’s history for coming generations and place themselves on the map in a literal as well as figurative sense, by producing portions of an updated version of an early twentieth century panoramic map from the American Memory collections.
History Project Home Page
The Veterans History Project (VHP) collects and preserves
the remembrances of American war veterans and civilian
workers who supported them. Browse the database by state
of residence to locate veterans from California.