History San José Online Catalog

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Over 30,000 records from History San José's catalog are available here for searching. We will continue to add more records to our online interface, and encourage you to explore one of the largest and most comprehensive regional history collections in the state of California.


History San José's photographic collection documents the breadth of Santa Clara Valley history. It includes photographs from the San José Chamber of Commerce, as well as photographs by local freelance press photographers, early portrait artists (such as the eccentric Astley David Montague Cooper), and personal family albums of Santa Clara Valley citizens. The collection includes glass-plate negatives, daguerreotypes, tin types, and albumen prints, as well as modern formats. Notable series include a group of rare portraits (salted paper prints) by Carlton Watkins, and photographs by Alice Hare, one of few female photographers working in Santa Clara County at the turn of the 20th century. The Burrel Leonard Photograph Collection documents one Cupertino ranching family’s history from the 1850s to their management of a prominent canning operation in the early 20th century and later development of their land into one of the first shopping malls in the South Bay Area. Our series of 400 aerial photographs from 1931 to the late 1960s documents dramatic changes from agricultural lands into today’s suburbia.

Research Library & Archives

The Research Library and Archives contains over 5,000 printed publications documenting our local history, the businesses and industries that thrived in the Valley, biographies of local citizens, and trade catalogs and instruction manuals for companies and products of local significance. It also includes more than 5,000 linear feet of archival records and manuscripts, architectural drawings and specifications, maps, oral histories, and audio and film materials. Records of the Pueblo of San José (founded 1777) are the oldest municipal records in the state, while contemporary documentation of Silicon Valley captures the reinvention of the future almost daily.

The Research Library is open by appointment, M,T,W,F from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. To schedule an appointment, email research @ historysanjose.org or phone 408.521.5025.

How to Search

You have the option of searching by keyword or using our advanced search functionality. You can also browse the collection using the Click and Search feature, or view a rotating selection of images using the Random Images feature. To find a specific record by ObjectID, use the Advanced Search feature and enter the ObjectID (e.g., 2003-33-165) in the "Catalog Number" field. To find records within a specific Collection, either use the Click and Search feature to find the collection alphabetically, or enter the collection name (e.g., Pueblo Papers) in the "Collection" field using the Advanced Search feature.