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New Resources in the California Room

By Beth Montes

There are some new resources available for those who are researching their home and its early residents. Ever since its creation, the San Diego Union index, available in the California Room of the downtown library and in the archives of the San Diego Historical Society in Balboa Park, has had a gap from 1903 to 1930. For years, there has been talk of closing the gap, but budget constraints and other factors always seemed to delay the work. Now Librarian and Preservation Specialist Rick Crawford has taken on the project. He has created a new database for the index information and, whenever possible, librarians and other staff members are adding to the index. The database also contains data from a little known card index, which tracked death notices and some obituary information from 1904 to 1912. All together, this new information represents over 8000 entries, is growing daily, and is available for use in the California Room. A hard copy of the 1904-1912 data has been printed and may also be viewed in the California Room.

Another fantastic resource is the recently discovered Thomas Bros. Block Book. This 5-volume set was published c. 1924 and shows individual parcels by block, many with the owners' last names. This is a great tool since it goes back further than the 1926 City Directory, which contains the first index by street address. These volumes, call number RCC 912.79498, are located in the California Room in the folio, or over-sized, case.

In conjunction with the City's Historic Resources Board, the library also has available the designation report database. This database is regularly updated and allows users to call up reports on designated properties by address, residents' names, builder, architect, and other useful categories. The reports themselves are available for viewing in the California Room and in the San Diego Historical Society's Archives.

For those of you with homes constructed or modified from June 16, 1930 to May 23, 1934, Librarian Susan Painter has designed a database that contains information from the Daily Transcript newspaper column called "On the Job". It includes information on projects in "San Diego and contiguous territory under construction by General Contractors of San Diego." Each entry may contain type of building or activity, project location such as street address, common address, or subdivision, owner's name, architect, contractor, and other notes. Ms. Painter says the data entry process is underway and should be completed within 2-3 months. This database can be pulled up by any librarian in the California Room.

None of the electronic information is currently available on the net, but will someday be accessible via the City's website. Whether the intention is to apply for historic designation or just to learn more about an older property, these new resources will be a great aid in any research situation.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 3

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