County of San Diego

ASSESSOR | RECORDER | COUNTY CLERK

Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr.

Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk County Archives – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


You can view most documents electronically for no fee on the public kiosks at any of our office locations. If you identify a record or records that you would like to view in person, you may email the archives and provide us the details of the record(s). We will then check to see if we have the original in our holdings and if it is publicly available. If it is, we would be happy to set a time for you to come in and view the documents in person.

While some of our collections are comprehensive (for example, the maps, which are filed for record and recorded), not all our collections are complete; some of them have gaps. You may visit our landing page on the Online Archive of California’s website for a list of the records managed by the ARCC County Archives.

The ARCC County Archives program was created in March 2020 to be the central repository for all Recorder/County Clerk Official Records with permanent retention and enduring historic value. We are continuously in the process of identifying and transferring those historic Official Records that belong in the Archives’ collections.

Examples of record types include affidavits of election expenses (1926-1946), certificates of sale (1870-1900), chattel mortgages (1860-1920), declaration of homestead (1860-1931), deeds (1846-1918), delinquent tax lists (1958-1973), executions (of property, 1952-1960), historic documents, indexes, land and water contracts (1889-1890), leases (1869-1934), miscellaneous records, official bonds (1867, 1871-1931), patents (1850-1930), recorded maps, registers of certificates of title (1850-1930), registry of public agencies, separate property of married women (1871-1930), sole trader listings (1856-1918), tax sales to the state of California (1892-1893), Torrens certificates (1919-1955), water claims (1883-1928, 1950), and wills (1848-1938). This is not an exhaustive list. For a full list of the records managed by the ARCC County Archives, visit our landing page on the Online Archive of California’s website.

In short, we do not currently collect records from County departments other than the Recorder/County Clerk. We hope to one day.

The County Archives at the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk’s office is responsible for the long-term preservation of print and paper-based Official Records with permanent retention (for example: legal documents, maps) and historic Vital Records (birth, death, and marriage certificates) that are a part of its holdings, pursuant to sections 27231, 27300 and 66466(e) of the Government Code.

Official Records are defined in California Government Code 27300(a) as the permanent archival record of all instruments, papers, and notices as accepted for recording by a county recorder.

We do not have a comprehensive list of all records that are available electronically. However, customers  may search and view most recorded documents on the public kiosks (computers) located at all ARCC office locations. Available documents include deeds (1845-1930), grantee/grantor indexes (1846-1969), miscellaneous records, miscellaneous records index, numeric index (1872-1973), Official Records (1931-1989), and recorded maps. Click here for limited access to our Official Record Index.

We are continuously working towards making more documents available in an accessible electronic format.

All requests for copies of records at the Archives must be routed through the Recorder/County Clerk. You may request copies of recorded real property documents online, in person, or by mail. Requests for copies will be fulfilled after payment is received. Please visit the ARCC Recording page for the most current information.

For information on how to request certified copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates, please visit the Birth/Death/Marriage Certificate page here.

For more information, please call 619-237-0502.

Appointments are not required to visit the Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk (ARCC) County Archives. However, you may wish to communicate your needs to an archivist prior to arriving at the facility. This will allow the archivist time to prepare for your visit. You may request an appointment by emailing us at archives@sdcounty.ca.gov.

All requests for copies of records must go through the Recorder/County Clerk. Visit the Recording page, and see the Copies tab. 

Records in the ARCC County Archives cannot be checked out. Please send an email to archives@sdcounty.ca.gov for questions related to loans and/or exhibits. 

Our focus at the ARCC County Archives is to facilitate access to public records. We are unable to conduct research on behalf of patrons. 

For a brief overview of our collections, you may visit our Collections Overview page.

You can also find information about our collections on our landing page on the Online Archive of California website.

The records of the ARCC County Archives may contain copyrighted material.  The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Our preferred citation is as follows:

[Identification of item], [Collection title]. [Collection number]. San Diego County Archives, Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk (ARCC).

Example:

Subdivision Map 952, San Diego County Map Collection. RCC/MAP05. San Diego County Archives, Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk (ARCC).

In short, we do not accept donations of personal records at the ARCC County Archives.

The ARCC County Archives is the central repository for the permanent retention of the official archival records of the Recorder/County Clerk. To this end, we receive transfers of permanently valuable Official Records at the Recorder’s office to preserve, arrange and describe these records so that they are accessible to the public according to sound archives management principles and practices. Official Records are defined in California Government Code 27300(a) as the permanent archival record of all instruments, papers, and notices as accepted for recording by a county recorder. We do not collect records outside of this scope.

Section 6252(e) of California Government Code defines a public record as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.”