Research Resources

Historian Robin Yonash has identified and organized dozens of online research resources that apply to Placer County, California, in general, with a primary focus on the towns in the Colfax, California, area.

These web sites cover the existing towns of Alta, Applegate, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Gold Run, Iowa Hill (AKA Iowa City until 1901), and Weimar. They also have information about the local historic towns of Bird’s Flat, Damascus, Elizabethtown, Humbug Canyon, Illinoistown, Monona Flat, New England Mills, Red Point, Succor/Sucker Flat, Towle, and Wisconsin Hill.

Online Resources

All of the following online resources are free to use unless otherwise indicated.

Genealogy/Family Tree Web Sites . genealogy resources (subscription required, free trial available)

Family Search to create a family tree (free)

My Heritage for research (subscription required)

Books on History — Online

Placer County Directory, 1861

History of Placer County, California, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers, Thompson & West, 1882

A Memorial and Biographical History of Northern California, 1891

A Volume of Memoirs and Genealogy of Representative Citizens of Northern California,

Many of the these biographies have been transcribed and posted on the following web pages (ignore the county names at the top of the pages):

History of Placer and Nevada Counties California, with biographical sketches of the leading men and women, 1924

Business and Individual Directories

1861 Placer County Directory

1867 Pacific Coast Business Directory. Alternate link: 1867 Pacific Coast Business Directory

1872 McKenney’s gazetteer and directory of the Central Pacific Railroad and its branches

1876-78 Pacific Coast Business Directory

1877 Business directory of San Francisco and principal towns of California and Nevada

1800-81 McKenney’s Directory

1883-84 McKenney’s Directory

1884-5 McKenny’s Sacramento City & County Directory (includes Placer County–scroll down)

1888 California state gazetteer and business directory, by R. L. Polk & Co.

Telephone Directories

1898 PT&T & Sunset T&T Telephone Directory

1931-February PT&T Telephone Directory

1941-March PT&T Telephone Directory

1942-September PT&T Telephone Directory

1944-December PT&T Telephone Directory

1946-June PT&T Telephone Directory


Coming soon


California Digital Newspaper Collection (The site describes itself as “A Freely Accessible Repository of Digitized California Newspapers from 1846 to the Present.”)

Elephind (limit your search using the options on the left; for example, there is an Iowa Hill in Australia) (subscription required)


Historic USGS Topographical Maps

1890 Iowa Hill Mining District

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

Central Pacific Railroad

California County Formation History (on the site, scroll down)

Placer County Parcel Maps with Township, Range, & Section (keep clicking on the number for area of the map you want to drill down to)

Census Records for the 1852 Special California Census–this is the Placer County portion. (subscription; two-week free trial available)

Family Search to create a family tree. Creating an account is free and gives you access to more tools.

My Heritage for research

Names of registered voters in Placer County in 1890 (in lieu of the missing 1890 Census) (index only; there is a small charge to obtain the actual copy of a death notice)

Vital Records

Index to births, 1852-1885 From the Placer Herald Newspaper, Auburn, California
(index only; there is a small charge to obtain the actual copy of a death notice)

Index to marriages, 1852-1885 From the Placer Herald Newspaper, Auburn, California

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