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El Dorado County (Calif.) Archives: Finding Aid
mssEl Dorado County  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: El Dorado County (Calif.) Archives
    Dates (inclusive): 1850-1933
    Bulk dates: 1850-1890
    Collection Number: mssEl Dorado County
    Creator: El Dorado County (Calif.)
    Extent: 1,600 pieces (consisting of 183 volumes; 12 document boxes; and 1 oversized box) 23 linear ft.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: Records of El Dorado County, California, chiefly dating from 1850 to 1890, including county court documents, ledger books and other business records, mining papers, land records, school records, treasury records (including tax rolls and assessment rolls), and merchandising accounts (principally for mining camps). Many of the mining papers and records are from the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company.
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. El Dorado County (Calif.) Archives, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    With the exception of the series “County records: Grants,” the collection was purchased from James H. Sweeney in September 1945. The series “County records: Grants” was acquired from Talisman Press in August 1979.

    Removed or Separated Material

    7 photograph albums received as part of this collection were moved to the Photo Archives and cataloged as photCL 63.

    Historical Note

    One of the original 27 counties of California, El Dorado County was created in 1850 at the time of statehood with Coloma as the county seat. It is in the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento, in the heart of the gold mining country. Placerville, which had been known as Hangtown due to the numerous hangings in the town, was incorporated in 1854 and became the county seat in 1857.
    The discovery of gold, on the morning of January 24, 1848 by James W. Marshall near Sutter's sawmill in Coloma, ushered in the era of Gold Rush, dramatically altering the American West. The history of El Dorado County is intricately linked to this momentous event. News of the discovery traveled far and wide, and people all over the country --- and indeed all over the world --- were lured to El Dorado County, to the “Gilded One”, with the dream of instant wealth.
    It is estimated that about 4,000 people worked in mines in the summer of 1848; by the end of 1849 that number grew to 40,000. Mining camps sprouted, as did restaurants, shops, schools, churches, and other establishments necessary to sustain the mining economy. Thriving Gold Rush towns, in the span of a few short years, had transformed the county and the state.


    Gernes, Phyllis. Hidden in the Chaparral: A Chronicle, from 1848 to 1942, of the Gold Rush Towns of Spanish Flat, Kelsey, American Flat, Garden Valley, and Surrounding Mining Settlements and Camps. Garden Valley, Calif.: Phyllis Gernes, 1979.
    Jerrett, Herman Daniel. California’s El Dorado: Yesterday and Today. Sacramento, Calif.: Press of Jo Anderson, 1915.
    Moser-Flynn, Halmar. El Dorado County : Historic Places of Interest, Myths, and Legends. Placerville, Calif.: Heritage Association of El Dorado County, 1994.
    Winkler, Jack R. Old Hangtown: A History of Placerville, California from 1848 through 1856. Placerville, Calif., JRW Press, 2000.
    Yohalem, Betty. “I Remember …”: Stories and pictures of El Dorado County Pioneer Families. Placerville, Calif.: El Dorado County Chamber and Commerce, 1977.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists of El Dorado County records as seen in county court documents, ledger books and other business records, mining papers, land records, school records, treasury records (including tax rolls and assessment rolls), and merchandising accounts (principally for mining camps). Many of the mining papers and records are from the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company.
    Some of the documents are fragile and damaged due to fold lines wear, water and mold. Please handle them with care.


    The El Dorado County Archives consists of the following series and sub-series:
    • 1. Bound volumes (183 volumes)
    • 2. Civil court case files (9 boxes)
    • 3. County records (1 box)
      • a. Grants
      • b. Animal bounties affidavits
      • c. Court and other legal records
      • d. Estray notices
      • e. Bills of cost
      • f. Blank legal forms
    • 4. Manuscripts (3 volumes)
    • 5. Mining papers (4 folders)
      • a. South Dakota
      • b. Oregon and Idaho
      • c. California
      • d. Victoria (B.C.)
    • 6. Business records (7 folders)
      • a. Promissory notes
      • b. Checks and receipts
      • c. Insurance records
      • d. Ledgers and statements
      • e. Arthur Baring Gould papers
      • f. Brown family papers
      • g. Correspondence
    • 7. Ephemera (3 folders)
      • a. Various
      • b. Newspapers
      • c. Envelopes
    • 8. Fragments (1 folder)
    • 9. Certificates of sale (1 oversize box)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Courts -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Gold mines and mining -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Mines and mineral resources -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Real property -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Taxation -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Diamond Springs (Calif.) -- History.
    El Dorado County (Calif.)
    El Dorado County (Calif.) -- Government publications.
    El Dorado County (Calif.) -- History.
    Placerville (Calif.) -- History.


    Judicial records -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Ledgers (account books) -- California -- El Dorado County.
    Tax records -- California -- El Dorado County.