Nevada County Historical Society

Research at the Searls Historical Library

The Searls Historical Library has Nevada County's largest collection of historical artifacts and records, including over 31,000 old photos, 100,000+ property tax assessment records, 10,000+ district court transcripts, obituaries, wills and probate records, personal letters, plus over 3,000 books, diaries, ledgers, along with over 130,000 names from thousands of old maps. The Searls family of attorneys also left their early law case records, many of which are the only copies in existence. Over the years, through the dedication of many local volunteers, most of these records, including an extensive 200,000 card catalog that has been carefully indexed. While there are few documents, records or photos themselves are online, members of the public can now start to explore the last 170+ years of Nevada County, Nevada City, and Grass Valley history by searching these indexes and catalogs online.

How can we help with your research?

I’m looking for
a person or one of my ancestors

Start by searching for by last name. To refine the results, later add first or other names. The Photo Index and Card Catalog (aka General Index) may be the most helpful for your search. Or search for Wills and Court Cases.

I’m looking for information
about a property

Try searching for the just the street or road name in quotes. For example: . Adding a house or street number may not help as these are quite new. The Assessment Book and Map indexes will be the most helpful for your search.

I’m looking for
a local business
or company records

Start with a search for the company name, without the words Company or Co., or use quotes, like . The assessment books and card catalog may be the most helpful for your search. Or search for Court Cases.

Catalog and Index Search

Enter a name, company, place or keyword to search across 669,892 records, using the search box. Then click "Go" (or hit Enter).

Or you can browse an index, catalog, or sub-category by choosing from one of the links below. Note that you won't be able to see the actual documents or records; these are just catalog and index entries. You can click on the "?" icons below for more information about each index, catalog, or sub-category.
  • Card Catalog (aka General Index) (253,797 records)
  • Photo Index (39,095 records)
  • Nevada City Assessment Books (74,848 records)
  • Grass Valley Assessment Books (79,259 records)
  • Obituaries Index (46,954 records)
  • Probate Court Index (16,222 records)
  • Historical Society Bulletins (5,712 records)
  • Searls Maps Index (100,147 records)
  • McGuire Maps Index (46,418 records)
  • Books, Pamphlets & Magazines (3,347 records)
  • Miscellaneous Materials (1,772 records)
  • A. A. Sargent Collection (1,431 records)

  • Got a question or a issue?