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“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.”

- Zora Neale Hurston

The History Center is open to the public for research during regular business hours. For members of CCCHS, official representatives of Contra Costa County offices, and school teachers and students doing classwork for public schools within the county, there is no cost to research. Non-members may research in-person for an hourly fee.  Photocopy costs are extra. There is an hourly fee for research performed by our volunteers with a discount for CCCHS members.

All materials used by the researcher for publication shall state the following:
"[Identification of item], [Identification of Collection], Contra Costa County Historical Society".

Some items need permission before being used for publication.

Archive displays at the History Center of Contra Costa County Historical Society

On-Site Research

On-site research can be performed in all collections that are currently available to the public.

Making an appointment is preferable, as the materials requested can be gathered ahead of time. The first 15 minutes of the in-person query is at no cost while we determine if we have the resources for your research question. After that, the cost for research is determined by member/non-member status and whether the staff conduct the research.

Individuals may also begin their research using our PACT computer.  The PACT (Public Access Computer Terminal) is available to the general public at no charge and contains digitized records of photographs, 19th century newspapers and maps, as well as a general search of the History Center’s database.  The PACT also makes it possible to access such things as several book-length Histories of Contra Costa County, Nilda Rego’s columns, and many other documents in the archive.

Photocopies will be made by staff. Personal photography for note-taking (not including graphic images such as photographs, maps, or artwork) can be done for a day fee.

PACT terminal at Contra Costa County Historical Society

Your research starts at the PACT Computer


Online Databases

Photographs, probate files, immigration/naturalization, maps, and obituaries are collections which we have indexed that can be found on our website. Contact the History Center for copies by identifying the item by name and/or item number.


The Contra Costa County Historical Society’s History Center houses a large collection of historical materials pertaining to the history of Contra Costa County since its formation in 1850.

Sample of Property tax receipt books from 1911-1920 at the Contra Costa County Historical Society

Property tax receipt books, 1911-1920

Research Inquiries

Research inquiries can be made by phone, email, or filling out the research question form. Please be specific in your request, including the names, dates, and locations of your subject within Contra Costa County. Our researchers will check the collections first before responding with a quotation of any fees for research and copying.

Please be specific to names, dates or timeframes, and known locations in the county and the question(s) to be answered. The more we understand your needs, the better we can serve you.  For example, “family research” is vague but “Jones Family Research", particularly "Jonas P. Jones” is better.  

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Research Fees

The Society charges fees for some of the services and products we offer. We charge these fees to recover our costs and help fund our continued operations. Some fees are lower for members of CCCHS and the full list of services and fees are listed here in our Fee Schedule.

If your research will involve fees, the exact amount will be determined by the staff person who assists you. Fees may be paid by cash, check or credit card. If you have further questions about the fees we charge, please contact us.