About the Digital Library

The California Historical Society, founded in 1871, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California's richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives.

The CHS Digital Library is an online archive of digitized primary sources from the CHS Collection.

The CHS Collection represents the environmental, economic, social, political, and cultural heritage of the entire state, including materials from outside California that contribute to a greater understanding of the state and its people.

The collection comprises a diverse body of materials documenting the history of California, including:

  • 50,000 volumes of books and pamphlets;
  • 4,000 manuscript collections;
  • 500,000 photographs;
  • Printed ephemera, periodicals, posters, broadsides, maps, and newspapers;
  • The Kemble Collection on Western Printing and Publishing;
  • 5,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, and lithographs; and
  • Artifacts and costumes.