California History Room

The Library preserves Monterey's memory in the California History Room.

The Monterey Public Library collects and preserves written, visual and audible materials created by and about residents of the Monterey area, both past and present. These records are housed in a secure, climate-controlled room, and made accessible to scholars and the public for research. California History Room collections relate specifically to the geographic, cultural and social region including the Monterey Peninsula and extending from Moss Landing to Big Sur and Carmel Valley.

Identification is required to use California History Room materials, and the permanent historical materials of the California History Room may not be checked out.

California History Room

Historical Monterey Newspapers on Microfilm Now Available Digitally

The Library’s holdings of Monterey newspapers on microfilm from 1846 – 1954 have been digitized and are accessible online from anywhere with an Internet connection.  Searching is faster, can be done by date, name, and event, and there is an adjustable tool for optimizing image quality for both text and photos.

You can access the digitized newspapers by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.
 

The California History Room is closed during Library holidays and other closed days.

No. You are welcome to use the California History Room during open hours.
 
For extensive research inquiries, to arrange a class visit, or to view archival materials (including photographs, maps, and locked-case books), please schedule an appointment with Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager Dennis Copeland by telephone at (831) 646-3741 or e-mail libchr@monterey.org

Digitized sample images from photograph and archival collections are included on the Archives page.

To research other historical photographs, schedule an appointment with Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager Dennis Copeland (831) 646-3741 or copeland@monterey.org

Use Advanced Search in the Library catalog:

  • Enter your search criteria
  • In the Shelving location tab, select any or all of the following locations:
    • California History Room
    • California History Room (Locked Case)
    • Colton Hall Museum
    • Mayo Hayes O'Donnell Library
    • MHO Library - Amelie Elkinton Collection
  • Click the Search button

The catalog includes the books in the reading room and maps, photograph collections, text collections, clipping file folders, and other materials in the Archives. Images of sample photographs, maps and documents are linked to selected archival records.

A card catalog is also available in the California History Room. The card catalog provides a finding aid to the Historic Clipping File, Game & Gossip magazine, Monterey Life magazine, and Californiana (early California) sources.

The Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager and other Library staff will be happy to answer questions regarding collections or holdings on a specific subject. Call (831) 646-3741 or email copeland@monterey.org.

No, staff members do not provide research services for a fee. Staff and volunteers can assist you in locating research materials in the California History Room. Staff can also provide limited reference and research services if you are unable to visit the California History Room. For more information, contact Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager Dennis Copeland at (831) 646-3741 or copeland@monterey.org.

Archival materials are reproduced or scanned by Library staff or by professional services under the oversight of Library staff only. By special arrangement, video/motion picture filming may be scheduled with the Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager. Fees are charged for reproduction services.

The California History Room and Archives includes the reading room and the Archives. The reading room contains books, pamphlets, periodicals and the historical clipping file. The Archives contain photographs, published local historical maps and unpublished materials created or received by a person, family, or organization and specially preserved because of their enduring historical value. The collection as a whole covers early California to 1850 and the Monterey area from 1850 to the present, with an emphasis on the City of Monterey.

The California History Room, is open to all readers and researchers of early California and local history. Staff and History Volunteers are available to assist you in locating materials and using the Library catalog and other resources in the California History Room.  Class visits are welcome by appointment only.   Call (831) 646-3741 or email libchr@monterey.org for an appointment.

Researchers may photocopy materials that are located on the open shelves or in the clipping file using the photocopier in the California History Room.
 
Staff will photocopy or arrange for reproduction of archival materials and locked case books. Reproduction may be restricted for fragile materials. A fee may be charged for staff reproduction of archival materials. For more information, contact Museums, Archives and Cultural Arts Manager Dennis Copeland at (831) 646-3741 or copeland@monterey.org.

You will need a Monterey or Pacific Grove Public Library card or a current photo i.d. when you register to use the California History Room. To protect the collections, pens may not be used in the History Room. Laptop computers are permitted. Please keep the materials you take to the History Room to a minimum. Avoid bringing bags, cases, or valises if possible.

Requests for copies of particular materials must be made in writing, either by letter, e-mail or fax, or by telephone. Photocopy orders are limited to 50 pages and in some cases may be limited or restricted due to the condition of the material. Fees are charged for photocopy services.

The Monterey Public Library is located at 625 Pacific Street in Monterey. When you register at the Library Help Desk on the main floor of the Library, a staff member will escort you to the California History Room.

Materials in the California History Room and Archives do not check out to individuals or other libraries. These materials are part of a permanent and secured collection. Materials do not circulate to preserve our community heritage for future residents and researchers.
 
There are books and other materials about Monterey and California history in the circulating collection. For more information, search the catalog or contact the Library Help Desk (refdesk@monterey.org).

The first books of the Monterey Public Library date from its origins in 1849 as the first public library in California, the Monterey Library Association. The idea of maintaining a permanent historical collection originated with Library Director Bertha Hellum (1937-1946). Library Director D. R. Jeffers (1946-1951) planned and created a special collections and history room in the Library. It is called the California History Room because of the emphasis on early California and Monterey history. After all, Monterey was the capital of Spanish and Mexican Alta California.

No, we cannot provide appraisals or assign monetary values to books or other historical materials and artifacts. Here are some links to assist you in locating an appraiser:
 Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America
 American Society of Appraisers

 

 

California History Room display case

Panorama From Cannery Row rooftop, 1919. A. C. Heidrick, photographer.