Historical Material Posted Online

The San Joaquin County Historical Society is pleased to announce the online publication of important county records between 1876 and 1899. This event marks the first step in an anticipated multi-stage digitization project, the successful completion of which depends on the willingness of individuals, businesses, and other organizations to join with the Society as financial partners.

The project’s first stage features plat books that describe property outside the county’s incorporated cities. During these years, the County Assessor’s office prepared such volumes at the rate of one every year. Each book measures approximately two feet by two feet and includes up to seventy detailed maps, each based on pen and ink drawings of various colors.

The plat books are valued by title searchers, attorneys, government officials at various levels, genealogists, historians, and other researchers. In recent years, a variety of parties involved in disputes over water issues in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have used them extensively. Information found within the books includes geographic features, property lines, names of owners, and assessed valuation of real estate. Often listed, as well, are the amount of taxes actually levied, whether owners actually paid their assessments, and random notes.

Lacking technology and adequate expertise of its own, the Society has partnered with Internet Archive, a nonprofit corporation based in San Francisco, to digitize the material. Founded in 1996, Internet Archive has an extensive online presence that includes books, audio recordings, and public records. According to its Web site, its purposes include “offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.”

The cost for digitizing the first twenty-one volumes of the Museum’s forty-volume collection of county plat books was approximately three hundred dollars. For this sum, Internet Archive has digitized the books, made them available over the Internet, agreed to update the images as technical standards evolve, and provide the Museum with backup copies of its own.

As with stage one, completion of the project’s second stage, covering plat books for the years 1900-1919, is expected to cost approximately three hundred dollars.

The Society has completed the first stage thanks to the generosity of local individuals, and it invites partners to help it embark on the second. The Society is a nonprofit corporation exempt under 501(c)(3) provisions of the Internal Revenue Service. For additional details, contact the Museum’s executive director David Stuart (davidstuart@sanjoaquinhistory.org) or me (leighjohnsen@sanjoaquinhistory.org) by e-mail or telephone (209.331.2055). Checks intended to support this project should be written to the San Joaquin County Historical Society for the “Digitization Project” and sent to the following address:

San Joaquin County Historical Society
P.O. Box 30
Lodi, CA 95241-0030

Digitized examples of San Joaquin’s Plat Books can be viewed by clicking the following links:

1876
1884
1899

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