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Inventory of the Office of the Secretary of State Records, Part I
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Agency History
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Office of the Secretary of State Records, Part I
    Dates: 1850-1998
    Collection Number: See series descriptions
    Creator: Secretary of State
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: The records of the Secretary of State's office comprise one of the largest record groups at the Archives. This finding aid, identified as "Part I," describes many records that are no longer created by the various programs within the agency. Part I is comprised of 13 sub-groups: Accounting Office Records, Administrative Office Records, Architects' and Live Stock Auctioneers' Licensing Records, Corporation License Tax Records, Corporations Section Records, Motor Vehicle Records, Notary Public Records, State Library Records, Trademark and Service Mark Records, and Filed Documents (these sub-groups closely reflect the organization of the Secretary of State's office during the latter half of the 19th century and the early half of the 20th century). The last three sub-groups are Census Records, Constitutional Conventions Records, and Spanish and Mexican Land Grant Records.
    Physical Location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information

    Access

    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions will be noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please consult California State Archives staff. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement that may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives' collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Specific item, specific ID number], Secretary of State Records, Part I, R206, California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition Information

    The California State Archives acquired the Secretary of State records according to state law.

    Agency History

    Article V, section 19 of the 1849 state Constitution provided that the Secretary of State "shall keep a fair record of the official acts of the legislative and executive departments of the Government; and shall, when required, lay the same, and all matters relative thereto, before either branch of the Legislature; and shall perform such other duties as shall be assigned him by law."
    Several sections of the 1879 Constitution detail the duties of the Secretary of State; however, most of those descriptions were codified, over time, into a variety of codes. For example, Government Code Section 12160-12162 describe the Secretary of State's duty to keep a record of the official acts of the legislative and executive departments.
    In addition to the above, the Secretary of State's responsibilities include:
    • - Serving as the state's Chief Elections Officer
    • - Implementing electronic filing and Internet disclosure of campaign and lobbyist financial information
    • - Maintaining business filings
    • - Commissioning notaries public
    • - Operating the Safe at Home Confidential Address Program
    • - Maintaining the Domestic Partners and Advance Health Care Directive Registries
    • - Safeguarding the State Archives
    • - Serving as a trustee of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts

    Scope and Content

    The records of the Secretary of State's office comprise one of the largest record groups at the Archives. This finding aid, identified as "Part I," describes many records that are no longer created by the various programs within the agency. However, some of the records described are still being created, but are no longer transferred to the Archives.
    Part I comprises 13 sub-groups: Accounting Office Records, Administrative Office Records, Architects' and Live Stock Auctioneers' Licensing Records, Corporation License Tax Records, Corporations Section Records, Motor Vehicle Records, Notary Public Records, State Library Records, Trademark and Service Mark Records, and Filed Documents (these sub-groups closely reflect the organization of the Secretary of State's office during the latter half of the 19th century and the early half of the 20th century). The last three sub-groups are Census Records, Constitutional Conventions Records, and Spanish and Mexican Land Grant Records.
    Many records described in this finding aid are in bound volumes. These bound volumes were given ID numbers through a Works Project Administration program during the 1930s. While not all pre-1939 volumes have WPA numbers, the vast majority do. Appendices list the individual volume ID numbers, associated with their respective series. These bound volumes contain some of the earliest records created by or maintained by the Secretary of State.
    Notable records within this group include trademarks and articles of incorporation. California had one of the earliest trademark registration laws in the nation. Applications were accompanied by samples of the marks being registered. These trademarks were, often times, works of art and convey the advertising acumen of their creators. Articles of incorporation reflect the variety of business in California -- from mining to railroads, from farming to land speculation, from small business ventures to large capital investment firms -- a myriad of economic successes and failures can be traced through these records.
    With the advent of the horseless carriage and the need to regulate for safety reason, the first registration of motor vehicles was handled by the Secretary of State's office. The records described the make and model of vehicles as well as their power source. "Chauffeur's licenses" were the earliest of driver's licenses and were required of anyone operating a motor vehicle.
    For the researcher interested in early land ownership, the Spanish-Mexican land grant records are must see items. Many familiar Californio and American names are found within the records: Pico, Sepulveda, Vallejo, Sutter, Folsom, Pacheco, Stearns, Lassen, and Bidwell to name just a few. In order to investigate and confirm titles in California, American officials acquired the provincial records of the Spanish and Mexican governments in Monterey. Those records, most of which were transferred to the United States Surveyor General's Office in San Francisco, included land deeds, sketch maps, and various other documents. The Land Act of 1851 established a Board of Land Commissioners to review these records and adjudicate claims, and charged the Surveyor General with surveying confirmed land grants boundaries. Of the 813 grants ultimately claimed, the Land Commission approved only 553.
    In addition to the 19th century land grant records is a series of reports from the 20th century relative to ownership of land by non-citizens. The Alien Land Law reports reflect the hostility toward non-Caucasian individuals, particularly those of Japanese ancestry, and efforts to deny land ownership to that particular segment of the population.
    Early populations can be traced using the 1852 state census and the 1860 federal census. In addition to the population schedules, these two censuses also include agriculture and industry schedules, showing the importance of California in the production of food and goods. The Archives also has the 1880 population census.
    This finding aid is a revision of previous editions. Many of the items in the previous editions were not Secretary of State records, but rather documents from other record groups, such as the Controller and the Attorney General, that simply mentioned the Secretary of State's office. These references have been removed from this revised edition and can be found in the record groups of the creating agencies.

    Accruals

    While no further accruals are expected, additions to the series may occur as older records will be interfiled upon receipt.

    Note

    Appendices A-G are available in the Master Finding Aid at the California State Archives.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Trademarks
    Corporations - California
    Architects - California