California instituted a Homestead Act in April of 1851 shortly after it became a state on September 5, 1850. Land laws in
California were a jumble of Mexican land grants, squatters and tribal lands. The Homestead Act was an attempt to unravel
the complexities of a population that suddenly exploded with the Gold Rush. In the Homestead books in this collection the
early claimants refer to the California Act of April 21, 1851 and later to an amendment of April 28, 1860. The declaration
includes the name of the head of household, male or female, the notice that the claimant is currently living on the premises
and the claimant’s intent to use and claim the land as a homestead. In an early nod to women’s rights, the California Homestead
Act dictated that the property be held in joint tenancy if a married couple filed a claim.
The Collection is open for research by appointment. A separate index has been created for the earliest volumes A and B and
is available at the Archives. Appointment times are available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 9-3.