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The main branch of the Santa Cruz County public library has a special room set-aside for local history and genealogy. This room has a large amount of material on Santa Cruz County, but also some material on the rest of California, the rest of the U.S. and even some foreign countries. This is typical of the type of genealogy material that local libraries collect.
Local NewspapersThis main branch is located at 224 Church Street in Santa Cruz. One of the largest parts of the collection is local newspapers on microfilm. These local newspaper images go back over a hundred years. I'm not yet sure how far back, I need to do a survey. You can sit and read these pages for free, but if you want to copy a page it's about 25 cents per page. Another resource I've used often is the local address and telephone directories. These I know go back from today, into the 1920s at least, probably earlier. There are also a few address directories for other places around California. It's hit or miss.
Some of the newspaper articles have been extracted into an index, but I believe this index only comes forward to about 1940 and probably doesn't index every name, just major events, or probably obituaries, marriages, that sort of thing. There is also an online index to the local Santa Cruz Sentinel (their website) which is the only local large-format paper serving Santa Cruz city. There is also another large-format paper called the Register-Pajaronian (their website, search archives) which serves primarily Watsonville and perhaps a few other smaller south-county communities.
The next-most widely read large-format paper in Santa Cruz is probably the San Jose Mercury. San Jose is about 40 miles away more-or-less. But if you're looking for local announcements like marriages, births, deaths, they would be in the Sentinel if they occurred in the north part of the county, or possibly in the Register-Pajaronian if they occurred in Watsonville, or the rest of the south part of the county.
There were, at one time, other local newspapers, and many if not all of these are on microfilm in the Santa Cruz library genealogy room, but I really need to do a survey in order to tell you exactly what they were called and what years they cover.
You may be saying to yourself "large-format"? There are several small-format papers in Santa Cruz County. These typically run local-interest stories, advertisements, want ads, the crime beat, and so on. They don't typically run any sort of genealogical material like obituaries.