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Resources - Historians

Silicon Valley

San Jose Library California Room The first place to visit when researching a local building.  Check out the online digital Sanborn Fire Insurance maps with detailed maps of San Jose dating back to 1884.

A Guide to Researching the History of a House A comprehensive set of instructions for researching the history of your home from HomeAdvisor.

History San Jose manages History Park and the Peralta Adobe/Fallon House Historic Site as well as a collection of over 500,000 historical artifacts from Santa Clara Valley. They house a Research library containing records from the Santa Clara Valley, host exhibits and provide history themed school programs and tours for children.

 The Portuguese Historical Museum is located in History Park.

Market Street Chinatown Archaeological Project A program to catalog, analyze, and curate San Jose's first Chinatown, once located where the Fairmont Hotel is built.

Japantown San Jose Did you know that San Jose's Japantown is one of only three Japantowns in the United States? Read about the history of this still vibrant community.

Santa Clara County: California's Historic Silicon Valley Features a suggested itenerary for visiting historic sites in Santa Clara County with historic background and pictures of each site. Includes a comprehensive history of the Santa Clara Valley.

German American Heritage has information about German immigrants' contributions to the Santa Clara Valley.


Historic Buildings of Santa Clara County Pictures and history of many local landmarks.


John's Silicon Valley History page Read about how places and streets in Santa Clara Valley got their names. Also some info on the Irish in California history.


Soft Underbelly of San Jose Photos and musings on San Jose landmarks, environs and lifestyle. The discriminating links page is worth a visit. 

Local photographer Gabriel Ibarra's website contains local history and pictures of landmarks -- lots of great links.


Go State! seeks to increase the visibility and integrity of the oldest public institution of higher learning in California (SJSU) by promoting its history.


Firato's Delicatessen Ever pondered the history behind that wonderful "RAVIOLI" sign next to the Bank of America building?  It once advertised Firato's Delicatessen -- a family run business from 1922 to 1977.  The Firato family wants to reopen the deli in the original location, restoring the 1880 brick building at 28 E. Santa Clara. 


Terry Thompson is an SJSU graduate whose realistic paintings focus on "googy" style business signs, many in San Jose. He has painted signs of the Jose Theatre, De Anza Hotel, Andy's Pet Shop, Mexico Theatre and many other local landmarks.  His painting of the Stephen's Meat Products sign is part of the San Jose Museum of Art's permanent collection. Perusing his website feels like driving around San Jose and beyond.  Interesting how these iconic signs and landmarks become part of our visual experience. Celebrating Silicon Valley's Mid-Century past. SVModern is a web site devoted to portraying the Santa Clara Valley during its years of transition from the Valley of Heart's Delight to Silicon Valley, roughly 1945 to 1965." Created by PAC*SJ member Heather David, this site is full of interesting pictures and background on local modern architecture and worth the visit. 

The Santa Clara County Photographers' Collection is now available for research.  The collection consists of over 57,000 black and white and color photographs chronicling the County's activities and development between 1950 and 1993.  Examples of subjects include aerial photographs of urban and rural parts of the county, portraits and activites of County employees and pictures of County facilities, including airports, schools, courts, and parks.  For further information on the collection or to schedule a research appointment, please call the Archives at 408-792-1895 or e-mail the County Archivist at


Learn California A wonderful resource for California History. See their selection of maps.

California Historical Society An online guide to over three hundred years of California history. Download historic graphics and images, send e-cards, find research materials and more.

Online Archive of California An excellent searchable database for manuscripts, photographs, and works of art held in libraries, museums, archives, and other institutions across California . Try a search on San Jose, California.


State of California Homepage Click on History and Culture of California on the left to find numerous interesting links. Culture has links to historic photos, museums, libraries, music, recipes and more. History has links arranged along a timeline from Native Peoples to Statehood and beyond.


Library of Congress - National Digital Library has maps of San Jose from 1869 to 1901 that you can pan and zoom around.


The David Rumsey Digital Map Collection Over 8,000 online historic maps with navigation tools.


California State Historical Landmarks Don is attempting to visit and photograph each of California's nearly 1100 sites.


The California Gold Country Lodes (get it?) of interesting stuff on 49er life. The map of mining camps along Hwy 49 has history and some pictures of remaining buildings for each camp. Fun!


Remembering Frontier Village Long time San Joseans remember this amusement park before it was replaced by condos in 1980. A great site! The motel is an American phenomenon that reflects an important part of our history and culture, says Professor Andy Wood, author of the award winning website and the new book ROADTRIP AMERICA: A State by State Tour Guide of Offbeat Destinations. More than 100,000 Sears ready-made houses were sold from 1908–1940 . Read the history of the Modern Homes program, browse photos and catalog advertisements, or register as a Modern

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