Where Have All the Records Gone?

Let's say you want to find out how wide the right-of-way is for a road somewhere in San Joaquin County that was created in 1890. What historical sources would you consult? You're right if you said "the county supervisor's records." Where would you go to view them? You get bonus points if you said "the San Joaquin County Historical Museum."

San Joaquin County Courthouse, Stockton (ca. 1950).

San Joaquin County Courthouse, Stockton (ca. 1950).

Historical questions like this can often be answered easily. But others can be more challenging. Even if researchers know which county records to consult, they don't always know where to find them. At times, researchers don't even know whether the records still exist.

San Joaquin County and the San Joaquin County Historical Society and Museum have embarked on a joint project that promises to make research in the County's historic records easier. The goal is to locate all existing historic records generated by the San Joaquin County government since the 1850s. The results will be compiled in an inventory, which will be made accessible to the public.

The motivating force behind this project is the County's Historic Records Commission, recently reactivated after years of inactivity. The Commission, which was appointed by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, consists of Supervisor Larry Ruhstahler, former Board of Supervisor clerk Lois Sahoun, and Bank of Stockton archivist William Maxwell.

The project updates another inventory of local civil records published in 1989 by a previous incarnation of the County's Historic Records Commission. A close reading of that document indicates that many of the resources it lists have changed location over the past quarter century and that many others were overlooked.

The project welcomes insights, sent to the project coordinator at the following address, about the location of previously overlooked historic county records: leighjohnsen@sanjoaquinhistory.org.

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