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Inventory of the Governor's Office Records
California State Archives Inventory No. 4  
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Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Introduction
  • Table I: Governors of California

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Governor's Office Records
    Date (inclusive): 1849-1974
    Creator: California's Office of the Governor
    Collection number: California State Archives Inventory No. 4
    Extent: See series descriptions
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Governor's Office Records, California State Archives Inventory No. 4, California State Archives.


    The records of the Governor's office document not only the day-to-day transactions of that office but reflect to a considerable degree the overall operations of the state government. Only in recent decades, however, have substantially complete collections of Governor's office files been preserved. Although documentation of the Governor's primary official acts has been carefully maintained in its original form throughout the entire period of the state's history, California law makes no provision for the disposition of the Governor's administrative papers, that is the correspondence, memoranda, and other records that flow between the Governor's office and the other branches of state, federal, and local government as well as to and from the general public. Consequently, the administrative records of California's Governors have been largely scattered to various private and public institutions or destroyed. Major collections of administrative records are lacking for all governors except Hiram Johnson, Pardee, Olson, and Brown, whose administrative papers are in the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; Haight and Markham, whose administrative papers are in the Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino; and Warren and Knight, whose administrative papers are in the California State Archives. In addition, fragmentary administrative records of most California governors are to be found in the California State Archives.
    Despite these haphazard disposition practices in the past, a considerable body of Governor's records is filed in the California State Archives. Many of these records constitute separate series reflecting specific functions, programs, and operations. Records in such categories include the original laws, appointments and commissions, notary public papers, petitions to the governor, prison papers--including those relating to the pardoning process and extraditions--proclamations, directives, executive orders, and offers of rewards.
    From the outset of state government the Secretary of State, as required by the state constitution, has kept "a fair record" of the official acts of the Governor. Moreover, the Secretary of State certifies many of the Governor's official acts and transactions. In the late 1850's and early 1860's the Governor's office itself began to maintain a record of its official acts. This is particularly evident in the "Registers of Official Transactions" as found in series entry 2. In other cases, such as notary public appointments and prison records, both the Governor and the Secretary of State maintained parallel and sometimes duplicate records. In several instances the Secretary of State's records are more complete. For this reason this inventory will include references to records of both the Governor and the Secretary of State which cover the same official subject matter.
    This inventory is in two parts. Part I provides a general description of the several record series created by the Governor's office. Some series run continuously from administration to administration, others are limited to specific administrations. Some series are complete, others broken and fragmentary. A few series extend from 1850 to the present.
    Part II outlines the records available in the California State Archives on the administration of each Governor. Governors are listed chronologically by administration. Records of special significance are noted under their specific record groups or series headings. For checklists of gubernatorial papers in other California depositories, see H. Brett Melendy and Benjamin F. Gilbert, The Governors of California: Peter H. Burnett to Edmund G. Brown (The Talisman Press, Georgetown, California, 1965).
    Table I has been added for reference purposes. Column I lists the Governors by name in the chronological order of their administrations. Column 2 lists the Governors in alphabetical order.