California State Archives and Google Partnership

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Google Announce Partnership to Digitize State Archives Exhibits
Google Arts and Culture
Today ( June 28, 2016) Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced a new partnership between the California State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State’s office, and the Google Cultural Institute.

This partnership will make State Archives exhibits available to a global audience online. The first three exhibits highlight the history of California state parks, the California Secretary of State’s office, and showcases campaign materials created by the nation’s first political consulting firm, Campaigns Inc.

Click here to view the California State Archives’ exhibits available via the Google Cultural Institute.

archives“The historical treasures of the State Archives belong to the people of California, and they should be easily viewable,” Secretary of State Padilla said. “Our partnership with the Google Cultural Institute will allow us to use materials from the State Archives to share stories about the rich history of California. These stories deserve to be shared with the world.”

“Preserving history, art, and culture is crucial to remembering where we’ve come from and who we are as people. Google is thrilled to partner with Secretary Padilla and the State Archives to bring archive collections onto the Google Arts & Culture platform and make them accessible the world over,” said Mufaddal Ezzy, Google’s California State Manager for Government Relations.

“State Archives staff has worked diligently to compile and digitize rare photographs, personal correspondence, videos, and other original documents to showcase and share via the Google Cultural Institute. These exhibits allow us to view the colorful history of the Secretary of State’s office, the creation of our state parks, and the campaign work of the nation’s first political consulting firm,” Padilla added.

As part of this partnership, the State Archives will continue to digitize exhibits for inclusion on the Google Cultural Institute. “This is only the beginning of our partnership with Google. We look forward to sharing more digital exhibits in the months and years to come,” Padilla added.

About the California State Archives:

California’s first legislature, meeting in 1849–50, charged the Secretary of State to receive “…all public records, registered maps, books, papers, rolls, documents and other writings . . . which appertain to or are in any way connected with the political history and past administration of the government of California.” The California State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State’s office, continues to serve in the spirit of those early instructions, providing a repository for the state’s permanent governmental records as well as other materials documenting California history.

About the Google Cultural Institute:

Since its launch in 2011, the Google Cultural Institute has worked closely with museums, foundations, archives, and others—from Carnegie Hall to the Musee D’Orsay in Paris to the British Museum in London. The Google Cultural Institute now has more than 1,000 partners from over 70 countries making a total of 6 million artworks, photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents of art, culture and history accessible to all online and by doing so, preserving it for future generations.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  June 28, 2016  CONTACT: Sam Mahood (916) 653-6575

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“Family Ties: From Past to Present” Genealogy Workshop, June 25–26, 2016

ChineseAmerMuseumLAThe Chinese American Museum will host “Family Ties: From Past to Present” Genealogy Workshop at California State University at Los Angeles on June 25 and 26, 2016.   Family Ties is a two-day symposium and workshop focusing on educating individuals on how to gather their genealogy, with an emphasis for Chinese Americans.  This workshop will be great for those who are interested in genealogy and/or Chinese-American history.

Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26
9:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Registration opens at 8:15 a.m.

California State University at Los Angeles
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032

For more information, including a list of sessions and a link to online registration, visit

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CSGA Meeting @ SCGS Jamboree

2016-JamboreeThe California State Genealogical Alliance will be holding it’s annual meeting at the upcoming Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree.

When: Saturday, June 4, 2016
Time: 12:45 p.m. – 1:45 p.m.
Where: Burbank Marriott, Boardroom

This meeting is open to everyone. Light refreshments will be provided.

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California State Archives Releases Online Digital Collection of 19th Century California Trademarks

California Old Series TrademarksSACRAMENTO – California Secretary of State Alex Padilla today announced the release of nearly 4,000 digitized California trademark images and applications filed with the Secretary of State between 1861 and 1900. These images and documents are the largest digital collection ever assembled by the State Archives, a division of the Secretary of State’s office.

“This is our history and it should be shared,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “I commend the work of our Archives Division staff who did a tremendous job assembling the collection.  I encourage Californians to explore these images, which for the first time are easily accessible to the public online.” Padilla added.

“As archivists, we are dedicated to preserving and sharing California history,” said Deputy State Archivist Rebecca Wendt.

The explosion of population and commerce after the Gold Rush led to California’s first-in-the-nation trademark law which resulted in this collection of product labels and logos registered with the California Secretary of State. Champagne, cigars, peaches and patent medicines were affixed with trademarked labels depicting the California landscape, Native Americans, and iconic images of California grizzly bears, gold miners, Minerva, the Capitol dome and colorful produce.

These “Old Series Trademarks” provide a fascinating view into commerce and consumer goods in the Golden State at a time when the industrial revolution and transcontinental railroad brought transformative change and expansive new markets for products from California.

“California has always been a land of opportunity that encourages entrepreneurship—qualities evident in our state’s earliest trademarks. Whether you were a miner, farmer, brewer, or seamstress, registering a trademark was vital to protecting your business,” Padilla added.

California’s ground-breaking Trademark Registration Act of 1863 allowed businesses to register images and labels for any product with the Secretary of State and made it unlawful for others, without consent, to use the same trademarked items to sell similar or counterfeit goods. An 1861 law allowed registration of brands on certain beverage bottles. These trademark laws were enacted nearly 10 years before federal trademark legislation.

The images can be viewed online at

Padilla has made digitization and online access a priority for the archives. “The State Archives is home to so many treasures that reflect California’s rich history. Digitizing key collections and exhibits will provide Californians, and the rest of the world, greater access to the history of our amazing State,” Padilla said.

Padilla is sponsoring AB 2674, authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) to establish an Online Archives Program.  The State Archives currently has about 125,000 cubic feet of paper records, but less than one-quarter of one percent of that total is digitized.

The trademark project was made possible by grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission which awarded The Friends of California Archives funding to support this effort to digitize approximately 24,000 pages from the collection of Trademark Registrations and Specimens, Old Series, 1861 – 1900 at the California State Archives.

“We can use modern technology to help explore our past. Digitization allows anyone to access the State Archives’ resources from their home or mobile device,” Padilla added.

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The Solano County Archives Are in Indefinite Storage

SolanoCoArchivesI have a blog where I have been posting regularly on Thursdays under the theme of “Treasure Chest Thursday” about a cache of documents I was given relating to Emma (Schafer) Petit La Forêt.  She was living in Vallejo, Solano County, California when several of the documents were created.  One of the documents was a copy of the final dissolution of her first marriage.  I planned to try to track down the complete divorce file at an indefinite future time but was encouraged to request it earlier when I gave a presentation to the Solano County Genealogical Society and spoke to a volunteer from the Solano County Archives.

After submitting the request I learned that the divorce shows up in the index for civil cases from the Superior Court and that Emma first filed for divorce in 1906.  And that seems to be as far as it can go right now, because I also learned that the Solano County Archives is in a state of limbo.  Above is a photograph of the current status of the archives, according to information on the Solano County Historical Society site.

I sent an official request for records retrieval.  The Solano County employee who responded to my request said that the documents just can’t be found.  They might be lost, they might be misfiled, they might be in a box where someone can’t read the numbers because they’re on a shrink-wrapped cart — oh, wait, that last one was not one of the reasons the employee cited.  That’s my own suggestion after looking at the photograph.

At this point Solano County apparently has no idea of when the question of what will happen to its archival materials will be resolved.  I was told it could take “several months” but no specific timeline.

These archival documents go back to 1850.  That’s definitely worth preserving!  Some people in Solano County believe an official county archive should be established and now have an online petition to try to accomplish that.

To be fair, there is at least one more side to the story.  One person has put forth that Solano County has higher priorities than funding an archive.  That individual wrote to me that archival requests number no more than one per month, although no basis for the statistic was given.  That sounds rather low to me, considering the explosion of interest in family history that has taken over this country (remember, it’s now the second highest Internet topic, right behind porn!).  The person in question did not state where knowledge of the situation came from and did not list any affiliation with the archives.

I have to admit I probably lean more toward hoping the county can have its own archives.  In theory it might be possible for the Solano County documents to be incorporated into the holdings of the California State Archives, but there’s no guarantee that the state is willing or able to take on the additional material, and no indication that the idea has been broached to the state at all.  In addition, it would mean that local residents would have to go out of the county to research their own area.  My opinion holds little weight here, however, because I don’t live in Solano County.  Residents of Solano County need to let their opinions be known to the county Board of Supervisors as soon as possible, whichever side of the debate they are on, because the board might make a decision as early as June. Until the issue is resolved, research into the history of Solano County appears to be derailed.

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