History Center Archives & Collections

Artifacts tell a story. Through our collection of historic buildings, photographs, personal papers, business and government ledgers books, cultural objects, clothing, and so much more, we can explore the stories of the people and events that shaped our county. Together these artifacts are an invaluable cultural resource for present and future generations.

Regional Photograph Collection

The History Center’s Regional Photograph Collection includes prints, slides, negatives on film and glass, and postcards from the 1840s to the present. The collection represents work from leading photographers and obscure hobbyist alike. Subjects include events and activities throughout the county, landscapes, portraits, interior and exteriors of homes, businesses, and public buildings.

Regional Archive Collection

The History Center’s Regional Archive Collection includes non-published material such as letters, personal papers, diaries, scrapbooks, and oral histories. These primary sources relate first-hand information about a topic created by those who experienced the events being documented. Our collection includes correspondence and papers from San Luis Obispo’s founding families and businesses.

Regional Object Collection

The History Center’s Regional Object Collection represents things made and used in San Luis Obispo County. The collection is comprised of textiles, decorative arts, tools, household furnishings, fine arts, and ephemera.

Reference Library

The History Center’s Reference Library is comprised of published materials related to the history of San Luis Obispo County and the surrounding region. Items include San Luis Obispo County newspapers from the 1860s to the 1970s, government records including county directories, census records, court rulings, school records, road files, maps, deeds, and property tax. Our research volunteers also maintain vertical files on a variety of topics related to the history of San Luis Obispo County that include reproductions of images, magazine articles, newspaper clipping, and other reference materials organized by subject.