Early History of the CSL

Early History of the CSL

“Among the most interesting institutions at the seat of government is the State Library, located in the 2nd story of the Hasting’s Block on the south-west corner of J and 3rd Streets.” – State Tribune, 1855

With “An Act defining the duties of the State Librarian and prescribing the rules for the government of the State Library,” the California State Library was created in 1850. Its first five years of existence was chaotic. The Library followed the Legislature as it traveled from one temporary capital to another. This state of transience reflected the fluid, rootless anarchy of Gold Rush society.

The “Capitol on Wheels” finally came to a halt when Sacramento was established as the permanent seat of government in 1854. However, it would not be until 1869 that the State Library found a permanent home in the newly opened State Capitol building. Up until 1861, the Secretary of State acted as the ex-offico librarian, along with his many other duties.

California State Capitol Museum – Out of the Vault

This is a website specifically for the “Out of the Vault: Treasures from Your California State Library” Exhibit which runs May 30, 2016 – April 23, 2017 at the California State Capitol Museum.

For Museum-related information such as contacts, hours and location: Visit capitolmuseum.ca.gov.