Genealogical Resources for Santa Cruz County, California

Some Notes

Right now, this is just a few random notes about genealogical resources for Santa Cruz County, California. Hopefully it will eventually be the definitive page on this topic.


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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 Newspapers

This 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.

Death Certificates

California began collecting death certificates in 1905.  These have all been indexed, however the earlier ones cannot be found on most internet sites.  The indexes do however exist.  There are free copies on microfiche if you're willing to travel to where they are hidden.  Otherwise, there is a free index to California Deaths from 1940 to 1997 at Rootsweb.  However the little monkeys do not allow deep-linking, so you cannot save the URL from your search for future reference.  I'm pretty sure you can if you pay for an membership.  Another website claims to have the Death Index up through 2000.  But again this site, requires a subscription to view it.  However they have the Death Index form 1905-1929 viewable for free to any site reader.  Why Ancestry's index stops at 1997 instead of 2000  -- I can't tell you.

Birth Certificates

California began collecting birth certificates in 1905.  These have all been indexed.  The index is available online at Ancestry.  A search for county Santa Cruz shows that there are 170,298 entries.