The History & Genealogy Department

Located on Lower Level Four (LL4) of the Tom Bradley Wing: Department Map

Phone: 213-228-7000 | Fax: 213-228-7409 | E-mail (form)

Department Staff

Materials & Collections

There are over 200,000 volumes in the history book collection with especially strong collections in biography, travel, wars involving the United States, the West, Native Americans, and Los Angeles area history.

The California Index, an online resource that may be accessed through the library website, indexes information about people, places, and events that have had a significant impact on life in Southern California. It is also a guide to the department's California Biography and Vertical Files, which include clippings from journal and newspaper articles, and various ephemera on subjects of local interest. Some of this content has been digitized and is available online through the California Index.

The Genealogy Collection at Central Library numbers more than 40,000 volumes, including more than than 10,000 genealogies. A family name index to the collection is available through the databases link on the library home page. "The Clan of Tomkyns" by Robert Angus Tompkins is now available online as a PDF.

The Map Collection at Central Library is one of the largest in American public libraries, with over 200,000 maps, 2,000 atlases, 1000 gazetters and over 1000 books supporting the study of maps and mapping.

The collection features United States Geological Survey topographic maps for the entire United States, nautical charts for domestic and international waters, historic street maps of Los Angeles dating back to 1849, historic street guides to 1925, and the Library of Congress collection of Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases on microfilm and online covering the state of California.

The History Department has current subscriptions to selected newspapers published throughout California, along with a representative sampling of papers from other states. Newspapers published in languages in other than English are kept in the International Languages Department. For information on older issues of newspapers, please consult the library catalog's Periodical Holdings.

See Los Angeles Area Newspapers by Decade for a list of Los Angeles area newspapers by decade.

Photo Collection

The Library's Photo Collection focuses on the history of Los Angeles and dates from the 1850s to the present. Included are images from the historic Security Pacific National Bank Collection, Shades of L.A., and the photo morgues of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Valley Times newspapers. Over 116,000 photos are available online, along with instructions for ordering, and a list of reproduction and usage fees. The Shades of L.A. collection also features oral histories online.


Organized genealogical societies that would like to schedule tours should contact Julie Huffman at (213) 228-7413.


Library staff can answer quick ready reference questions by telephone (213) 228-7000, fax (213) 228-7409 or email. Staff cannot do genealogical research or obituary searches for patrons; however, a list of researchers for hire is available.

By Mail

Library staff can perform searches of city directories and/or telephone directories for a fee. There is a $5.00 charge per search, plus a 25-cent charge for photocopies (i.e., if patron asks for five different names in one directory, that is a $25.00 charge plus photocopy costs; if one name, in five different years, there is a $25.00 charge plus photocopy costs). There is a limit of five look-ups per request. Requests for directory searches must be made in writing, and paid in advance. Patrons should be specific about names, dates, locations, etc. A check or money order for the non-refundable costs should be made out to "Los Angeles Public Library" and mailed to:

History and Genealogy Department
Los Angeles Public Library
630 W. 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Photocopies will be mailed or faxed to patron after receipt of payment.

By Telephone

Staff will check online sources for up to three business listings. Staff cannot check print or online sources for personal names or criss-cross listings. Current telephone and reverse directory information is available free on the Internet at WhitePages or Anywho

Research Guides

These guides have been prepared by History & Genealogy staff in order to assist you in conducting research on popular topics. A reference librarian can give you more detailed direction.