Santa Clara County Genealogy

Research Tips


Got tips encountered during your research?
Please share them with everyone here.


1880 U.S. Census Index-LDS
1930 Federal Census 
Great Register of Voters
Medical Examiner (Coroner)
National Archives
Native Daughters of the Golden West
Roman Catholic Church Archives
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
Social Security Records
Sutro Library (federal census records)

Essential Research Tools
  • "A Research Journey with Ron Filion:  In Search of A.W. Barron"
  • NORCAL Genealogy Index

  • This is a miscellaneous and informal collection of research tips, helpful hints, and "secrets" shared by other researchers who have worked with specific Santa Clara County area records. By sharing their experiences and knowledge here, they've enabled all of us to pick up some useful "tricks" to finding and working with these records.

    Bear in mind that these people do not all profess to be "experts"! These generous volunteers are merely sharing their observations, which may be different than your own experience.

    If you have different information than what is given on this page, by all means, please share with us! If you have any hints or tips to share regarding San Mateo County records that you feel might help others, please let us know so that they can be included here.

    This could help us all avoid needless time, expense, and frustration when searching for our Santa Clara County ancestors!

    "Thank you!" to all the volunteers who have submitted information for this page!

    History Park Research Library (History San Jose)

    Ron Filion (submitted June 2008) notes that:

    "The History San Jose research library is a pleasure to visit. I made an appointment by phone (quicker than email) and they sent me directions (it's actually at 1661 Senter Road). It was pretty easy to find and parking is free. In the library, I was shown the various indexes and card catalogs. They were quite easy to search and easy to request items. The items were pulled quite fast and I was allowed to copy anything on the photocopier. The copy fees were reasonable (25 cents for small, 50 for large as of June 2008). I was handling actual probate records and marriage licenses/certificates! They also have a microfilm reader (with copier) for viewing newspapers. The staff was extremely helpful."

    Ron Filion (submitted October 2005) notes that:

    According to a Mercury News article, "San Jose's archives now have two homes" (Mon, Oct. 31, 2005), the library has the San Jose City city archives up to 1998, and the city has apparently opted to maintain them from that date. Though, the library is still the official archives for the county. To sum it up, according to the article:

    "So when future historians come to check San Jose's official record, apparently they'll have to hit History San Jose for everything up to 1998 and the city clerk for everything thereafter. That's far different from Santa Clara County, where County Recorder Brenda Davis has been working with History San Jose to create an official county archive."

    Santa Clara County Recorder's Office

    Perrin (submitted June 2007) notes that:

    "Santa Clara County put all their very old and fragile records on microfilm a few years back. Before that, you could access the actual books and that was leading to their deterioration.  I usually only access the computer database and that has scanned copies of the actual certificates so all the information is there.

    "The pre-1905 or so books were scanned and I was told (haven't had to use them since I got to look at the books) they were easier to use since now there was an index of what was on the microfilm.  I didn't find that the very old records were as informational as the post 1905 certs.  Some of the 'death certs and birth certs' were one line entries in a ledger. Name of deceased person, cause of death, next of kin, and doctors signature. Birth certs SOMETIMES had the mothers maiden name but usually had only childs name, fathers name, date of birth, town of birth and doctor/midwife attending.

    "The marriage certs on the other hand were wonderful and most of these ARE on the computer at the recorders office.  There are usually two...the actual pretty marriage certificate (suitable for framing) and the very wonderful, lots of information, marriage information paper...  That usually had the brides and grooms names, their parents names (sometimes the mother of the brides maiden name...), where all were born, dates of birth etc.

    "The old books are not on site anymore at the recorders office.  I was told that they are now in a climate controlled building (I certainly hope that's correct) and were being archivally stored.  I don't know that now you could even wait at the counter and have someone go to the basement for
    those documents since they're not on site any longer."

    Return to Santa Clara County Genealogy
    © Copyright  2005-2008  Ron Filion and Pamela Storm.  All rights reserved.