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San Diego County, California Genealogy

Guide to San Diego County, California ancestry, family history, and genealogy birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

San Diego County, California
Map of California highlighting San Diego County
Location in the state of California, United States Genealogy
Map of the U.S. highlighting California
Location of California in the U.S.
Founded February 18, 1850
County Seat San Diego
Address San Diego County Administation Building
1600 Pacific Hwy
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619.238.8158

San Diego County Website

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County Information

San Diego County, California Record Dates

Known Beginning Dates for Major Records[1]
Birth* Marriage Death* Court Land Probate Census
1857 1856 1873 1855 1850s 1848 1850
Statewide registration for births and deaths started in 1905. General compliance by 1920.

County Courthouse

Superior Court records from 1850. Superior Court has probate, civil and divorce records. 

Main County Courthouse

220 W. Broadway

San Diego, CA 92101

Courthouse website

County Administration Building

County Clerk Recorder has birth records from 1857
marriage records from 1856 death records from 1873
and land records from 1850’s.[2]

Historical Facts

Wikipedia has more about this subject: San Diego County, California

Parent County

18 February 1850: San Diego County was created as an original county. County seat: San Diego [3]


The county seat San Diego and the county was created February 18, 1850. The County is located in the southwest area of the state.[4]

Boundary Changes

For animated maps illustrating California county boundary changes, "Rotating Formation California County Boundary Maps" (1850-1925) may be viewed for free at the website.

Records Loss

There is no known history of courthouse disasters in this county.


Populated Places

For a complete list of populated places, including small neighborhoods and suburbs, visit HomeTown Locator. The following are the most historically and genealogically relevant populated places in this county:[5]

Unincorporated communities
Native American communities
Census-designated places

Neighboring Counties


Bible Records



Cemeteries of San Diego, California online and in print
Tombstone Transcriptions Online
TombstoneTranscriptions in Print (Often more complete)
List of Cemeteries in the County
See California Cemeteries for more information

The following web sites may have additional information on San Diego County cemeteries.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1850 798
1860 4,324 441.9%
1870 4,951 14.5%
1880 8,018 61.9%
1890 34,987 336.4%
1900 35,090 0.3%
1910 61,665 75.7%
1920 112,248 82.0%
1930 209,659 86.8%
1940 289,348 38.0%
1950 556,808 92.4%
1960 1,033,011 85.5%
1970 1,357,854 31.4%
1980 1,861,846 37.1%
1990 2,498,016 34.2%
2000 2,813,833 12.6%
2010 3,095,313 10.0%
Source: "".

For tips on accessing San Diego County, California Genealogy census records online, see: California Census.

Church History and Records

Church records and the information they provide vary significantly depending on the denomination and the record keeper. They may contain information about members of the congregation, such as age, date of baptism, christening, or birth; marriage information and maiden names; and death date. For general information about California denominations, view the California Church Records wiki page.

List of Churches and Church Parishes

Court Records

San Diego Superior Court records are maintained at several courthouse locations and at a records warehouse.

Crime and Criminals


Emigration and Immigration

Ethnic, Political, or Religious Groups





Local histories are available for San Diego County, California Genealogy. County histories may include biographies, church, school and government history, and military information. For more information about local histories, see the Wiki page section California Local Histories.

Land and Property

Land and property records can place an ancestor in a particular location, provide economic information, and reveal family relationships. Land records include: deeds, abstracts and indexes, mortgages, leases, grants and land patents.

See California Land and Property for additional information about early California land grants. After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were usually recorded at the county courthouse and where records are currently housed.


Orange CountyRiverside CountyImperial CountyBaja CaliforniaCA SAN DIEGO.PNG
Click a neighboring county
for more resources


Military History and Records

Civil War
World War I
World War II

Naturalization and Citizenship

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

California, San Diego Naturalization Index (FaamilySearch Historical Records)


Additional newspapers abstracts can sometimes be found using search phrases such as San Diego County, California Genealogy newspapers in online catalogs like:



Probate Records

The county clerk is usually the custodian of probate records. The records include wills, fee books, claim registers, legacy records, inheritance records, probate ticklers, and dockets.

Content: Probate Records may give the decedent's date of death, names of his or her spouse, children, parents, siblings, in-laws, neighbors, associates, relatives, and their place of residence.

You can obtain copies of the original probate records (such as wills and estate files) by writing to the county clerk at the county courthouse.

The FamilySearch Catalog lists films of probate records. To find the records for this county, use the Place Search for California - San Diego - Probate records.

Online Probate Records


Archives, Libraries and Museums

Carlsbad City Library - click on "Genealogy" on right side for details.

County Courthouse
Family History Centers

Family History Centers provide one-on-one assistance, free access to center-only databases, and to premium genealogical websites.
FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries have access to most center-only databases, but may not always have full services normally provided by a family history center.

Local Centers and Libraries


Alpine Historical Society

Carlsbad Historical Society

Chula Vista Genealogical Society

Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego

Congress of History of San Diego and Imperial Counties

Coronado Historical Museum

Del Mar History

El Cajon Historical Society

Encinitas Historical Society

Escondido History Center

Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego

Lakeside Historical Society

Lemon Grove Historical Society

Oceanside Historical Society

Poway Historical and Memorial Society

Guy B Woodward Museum

Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society

San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

San Diego Genealogical Society

San Diego History Center

San Dieguito Heritage Museum

San Marcos Historical Society

Santee Historical Society

Solana Beach Civil and Historical Society

Spring Valley Historical Society

Temecula Valley Historical Society

Valley Center Historical Society


California tax records complement land records and can supplement the years between censuses. There may be gaps of several years in the tax records of some counties. For more information, see the wiki page California Taxation.

Vital Records

Vital Records consist of births, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and deaths recorded on registers, certificates, and documents. See the CDC Where to Write website for information on acquiring copies of these records. The State office has records since July 1905. For earlier records, contact the County Recorder. See also How to order California Vital Records


Voting Registers

California county clerks were to keep voting registers every other year from 1866 and well into the 20th century. These large books, called Great Registers, listed the men who registered to vote in that county. Besides name and age, the record may show place of birth, address, occupation, naturalization date and sometimes even a physical description.

These records are at the California State Library (1866-1944), and microfilmed copies are available through Family History Centers (1866-1910). Ancestry ($) has a searchable database of San Diego Great Registers from 1867-1898.

The San Diego records indexes for 1866-1879 are available on the RootsWeb site, by clicking here.

Genealogy Societies, Archives and Libraries

British Isles Genealogical Research Association
PO Box 19775
San Deigo, CA 92159-0775

Chula Vista Genealogical Society
P. O. Box 3024
Chula Vista, CA 91909

El Cajon Historical Society
PO Box 1973
El Cajon, CA 9220

Escondido Genealogical Society, Inc.
Escondido, CA 92033-2190

San Diego Genealogical Society
2925 Kalmia Street
San Diego 92104

San Diego Historical Society
P.O. Box 81825
San Diego 92138

San Diego African-American Genealogy Research Group (SDAAGRG)
P.O. Box 741956
San Diego, CA 92174-1956

San Diego Genealogical Society
7343 Ronson Road Suite O
San Diego, CA 92111-1430
Phone: (858) 279-7347

San Diego County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 422
Ramona, CA 92065

Fallbrook Historical Society
PO Box 1375
Fallbrook CA 92088

Gaslamp Black Hist Society
PO Box 1122469
San Diego, CA 92112-2469

Julian Historical Society
PO Box 513
Julian, CA 92036

La Jolla Historical Society
PO Box 2085
La Jolla CA 92038

La Mesa Historical Society
PO Box 882
La Mesa CA 92044

North San Diego County Genealogical Society
PO Box 581
Carlsbad CA 92008PO

Ramona Pioneer Historical Society
PO Box 625
Ramona, CA 92065
San Diego African American Genealogy Research Group
PO Box 740240
San Diego, CA 92174-0240

San Diego History Center
PO Box 81825
San Diego, CA 92138

San Diego Jewish Genealogical Society
PO Box 927089
San Diego, CA 92192-7089

Shrine Foundation Historical Society
2482 San Diego Avenue
San Diego, CA 92110

Vista Historical Society
2317 Old Foothill Drive
Vista, CA 92084



  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), San Diego County, California. Page 84-88 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002; Alice Eichholz, ed. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources, Third ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004), 81-83.
  2. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 10th ed. (Draper, Utah: Everton Pub., 2002), San Diego County, California. Page 85 At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 2002.
  3. The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America,10th ed. (Draper, UT:Everton Publishers, 2002).
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "San Diego County," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,,_California 05/08/2017.
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "San Diego County, California," in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 22 September 2019.