California Private Land Claims Collection
Scope and Contents
The California Private Land Claims Collection is made up of photocopies of a selection of twenty-six California private land claims presented to the Public Land Commission to determine the validity of prior Spanish and Mexican land grants within California. The contents include handwritten transcripts of proceedings and maps.
The collection is a small subset of the original 813 claims considered by the Commission, likely gathered during a researcher's targeted study. The common research thread of the selection is yet to be determined as the claims are from several California counties spread out across the state.
- 1852 - 1884
Language of Materials
While primarily in English, some materials refer to words in Spanish. It is also worth noting the materials are in cursive and therefore require some effort to decipher.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers.
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital facsimiles of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Biographical / Historical
The California Land Act of 1851 (9 Stat. 631), enacted following the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the admission of California as a state in 1850, established a three-member Public Land Commission to determine the validity of prior Spanish and Mexican land grants. It required landowners who claimed title under the Mexican government to file their claim with a commission within two years. Contrary to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which guaranteed full protection of all property rights for Mexican citizens, it placed the burden on landholders to prove their title.
While the commission eventually confirmed 604 of the 813 claims, almost all of the claims went to court and resulted in protracted litigation. The expense of the long court battles required many land holders to sell portions of the property or even trade it in payment for legal services. A few cases were litigated into the 1940s.
1 Linear Feet ( – containing 26 claims)
The California Private Land Claims Collection is made up of photocopies of a selection of California private land claims presented to the Public Land Commission to determine the validity of prior Spanish and Mexican land grants within California. The contents include handwritten transcripts of proceedings and maps.
The collection is arranged as a single series of 26 files in the original order they were acquired.
The materials were donated to the Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society (SBCGS) in 2009 or 2010. The identity and purpose of the person who commissioned the photocopies has been lost. The materials were transferred to the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation via SBCGS volunteer Laurie Hannah.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Transferred by Santa Barbara County Genealogical Society (SBCGS) to Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, in June 2019.
The photocopies are generally in very good condition. The file folders are of inconsistent quality, sizes, and labeling.
The collection was processed by Maria Wallis and James Doub from October to December 2019. The collection guide was written by Chris S. Ervin.
- Guide to the California Private Land Claims Collection
- In Progress
- Chris S. Ervin CA
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note