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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.

The Library's archival collections contain resources of enduring historical value, often unpublished materials in a variety of formats. They include typescripts, handwritten documents, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings and printed materials.

Each archival collection and map is included in the catalog. Archival catalog records have detailed information about historically significant collections such as the Edward F. Ricketts Papers, scrapbooks and registers, several photographic collections containing thousands of photographs, historical clipping files, and hundreds of maps.

Search the catalog for the subjects you are interested in, or click the links below. New windows will open.

The California History Room's image collections are beautiful and historically significant photographs and other documents, including works by local photographers Julian P. Graham, William Morgan, J.K. Oliver, C.W.J. Johnson, and others.

The California History Room archival cataloging and digitization project was made possible by a generous grant from the Doud Fund of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and matching donors.

Information about Reproduction and Use of California History Room Images
Reproduction and use of all images and documents in the Archives are subject to copyright law and Monterey Public Library policy. Use does not grant exclusive publication or exhibit rights. Exhibit or publication permission is for one-time use only.

Local History Links
Genealogy Links

Historical Monterey Newspapers Available Digitally
The Library’s holdings of Monterey newspapers on microfilm from 1846 – June 1964 have been digitized and are accessible online from anywhere with an Internet connection.

You can access the digitized newspapers by clicking here.

History Slam
See and hear the winners of Monterey's First History Slam, originally sponsored by the Japanese American Citizen's League of Monterey Peninsula (JACL) and the National Steinbeck Center. The History Slam will be an annual event held at the Monterey Public Library, co-sponsored by the Library and JACL.

FAQs about the California History Room

When is the California History Room open?

Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

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

Do I need to make an appointment to use the California History Room?

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 by e-mail at

How can I find out what is in your collection?
Use Advanced Search in the Library catalog:
  1. Enter your search criteria
  2. 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
  3. 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 Library staff will be happy to answer questions regarding collections or holdings on a specific subject. Call (831) 646-3933 or email
Does the California History Room and Archives research for a fee?
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 the Library at (831) 646-3933 or
May I photograph or scan California History Room and Archives materials myself?
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 Local History Librarian. Fees are charged for reproduction services.
What is available in the California History Room?
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.
Who may use the California History Room?
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) 646-2091 or email for an appointment.
How can I get photocopies of California History Room materials?
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 the Library at (831) 646-2091 or
What should I bring to the California History Room?
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.
Can I get photocopies without visiting the California History Room?
Requests for copies of particular materials must be made in writing, either by letter or e-mail, 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.
Where is the California History Room located?
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.
May I borrow from 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 (
Would you be able to tell me how much a book or photograph or painting, etc., is worth?
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: