Online: Whittier Local History Digital Collections
Whittier City Directories 1903 and 1911: Two of the earliest Whittier City Directories have been digitized and are keyword searchable here. City directories are useful in finding out the span of years that relatives lived in Whittier, as well as finding their address for additional avenues of search.
Whittier Digital Newspaper Collection: This collection is helpful in finding information on relatives living in and around Whittier from 1888 to 1956. Search a relative’s name with quotation marks around it for fewer irrelevant results, and try variations on relatives’ names, such as “Harriet Russell Strong,” “Mrs. Charles Strong,” “Hattie Strong,” “Harriet R. Strong,” etc. You can also search for a relative by their address. The directional indicator (north, south, east, or west) of pre-1966 addresses is important – for instance, at one time there were two 102 Greenleaf Avenues, one North and one South. Search with quotation marks around the search term, and try searching once with the direction abbreviated, and again with the direction spelled out. For example, “102 N. Greenleaf” as well as “102 North Greenleaf”.
Whittier Historical Photograph Collection: The library’s collection of Historical Photographs includes many photographs of early Whittier pioneers. You may search using the same strategy as above, or browse folders People, Businesses, Organizations, and Residences, to hunt for a familiar face. The Shades of Whittier Collection, created with photos lent to the library by Whittier-area residents and digitized, includes many family photos.
In Person: At the Central Library in Uptown Whittier
Whittier City Directories: The library’s collection of Whittier City Directories spans 1903 to 1977 and is organized alphabetically by occupant. Starting in the edition of 1920-1921, the books include a reverse address feature in which addresses are organized by street as well. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Tax Assessment Ledgers: The library's collection of tax assessment ledgers spans 1898 to 1956. Index volumes accompany the ledgers covering 1898-1919. This resource can be used in tandem with Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, city directories, and the L.A. County Property Assessment Information System website, to determine the following pieces of information: who owned a parcel of land; when "improvements" (structures) were built on the land, and what they cost to build; and additional properties in Whittier a landowner also owned. These books are large, heavy, and fragile, and patrons must be accompanied by a trained library staff member in order to access them, to ensure they are not damaged.
Whittier-area Telephone Directories: The library's collection of early Whittier-area phone directories spans 1904-1948. These are titled Whittier Home Telephone and Telegraph Company from 1904-1935, and Consolidated Telephone Company: Whittier, La Habra, Rivera, Pico from 1939-1948. These directories are slimmer than the city directories, as they only include people who owned telephones. They contain less information about occupants, but in many cases cover a wider geographic range. Cities, townships and neighborhoods covered include East Whittier, South Whittier, North Whittier, La Habra, Santa Fe Springs, Los Nietos, Potrero Heights, Rincon, Rivera, Montebello, & Pico. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Downey-area Telephone Directories: The library's collection of early Downey-area phone directories spans 1905-1942. These are titled Downey Home Telephone and Telegraph Company from 1905-1939, and Consolidated Telephone Company: Whittier, La Habra, Rivera, Pico from 1940-1942. These directories are slimmer than the city directories, as they only include people who owned telephones. They contain less information about occupants, but in many cases cover a wider geographic range. Cities, townships and neighborhoods covered include Artesia, Bellflower, Norwalk, Rivera, Laguna, Workman, Buena Park, Cypress, Los Alamitos, Hynes, Clearwater, Little Lake, Studebaker, & Bell Gardens. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Haines Criss-Cross Directories: The library’s collection of these directories, which list names, addresses and phone numbers of home occupants, spans 1972 to the present. 1972 to 1986 cover 35-37 cities and county areas in East Suburban Los Angeles. 1986 to present cover 20-24 cities and county areas in East San Gabriel Valley. The information inside is organized both by name and by address (hence "Criss-Cross"). These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Whittier Area Phone Books: The library’s collection of Whittier-area phone books - the thick, paperback volumes sent to homes that include yellow pages and white pages - spans 1968 to 2015. Like the Haines Criss-Cross Directories, these extend beyond the city limits, covering nearby towns and county areas. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Vital Records Index: Whittier, CA Newspapers, Vol. I 1888-1930 & Vol. II 1931-1957: These two volumes are indexes of adoptions, births, marriages, deaths and divorces, abstracted by members of the Whittier Area Genealogical Society with the cooperation of the Whittier Historical Society. Volume I, published April 1996 and covering 1888-1930, contains over 11,000 names. Volume II, published 2003 and covering 1931-1957, contains 33,800 names. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Whittier Daily News Card Catalog Index: This card catalog consists of 9 linear feet of cards on which articles of local interest from the Whittier Daily News were indexed by subject, spanning the late 1970s into the 2000s. These include obituaries of notable local residents. This resource is particularly valuable, as newspapers from 1956 onward have not yet been digitized, and are available only on microfilm. This card catalog is located in the Adult Reference section of the Central library in Uptown Whittier, and is for library use only.
Whittier-Area Newspapers: The library's collection of Whittier-area newspapers on microfilm spans 1888 to the present and includes the following eight titles: Whittier Graphic, Whittier Register, Whittier News (Weekly), Whittier News (Daily), Whittier Daily News, Whittier District News, East Whittier Review, and East Whittier Star Review. These are most useful to the researcher who has a specific date, or relatively narrow range of dates, in mind. For a complete list of the date ranges of each title, as well as the availability of all Whittier-area newspapers - including those held by the Whittier Museum and Whittier College - please see the chart on the Local Newspaper page of this website. To view microfilm, see a Reference librarian at the Central library.
Rose Hills Memorial Park Listings for "Interm" Sections 1301 and 1401: This index, extracted by Nancy Giles of the Whittier Historical Society in 1989, lists alphabetically the name, age, gender, death date, burial date, cause of death, and doctor of people buried in two certain sections of Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier. The burial date is often distinct from the death date in these lists, as many of the people in these sections of Rose Hills were re-interred in the 1920s, prior to the planned closing of Broadway and Mount Olive cemeteries. (Those two cemeteries now comprise Founders Memorial Park, at 12199 Broadway in Whittier.) Special thanks to the Whittier Area Genealogical Society for allowing the library to copy this material. This is stored in the Whittier History Room and is for library use only.
Tombstone Inscriptions, Broadway Cemetery and Mount Olive Cemetery: Published by the Orange County Genealogical Society in 1980 and 1984, respectively, these two volumes consist of an alphabetically-arranged list of the name, age, year of death, block, lot, and grave number of those buried in Broadway (formerly Clark) Cemetery, and Mount Olive Cemetery. Broadway Cemetery contained 926 burials, 68% of them prior to 1910. At Mount Olive Cemetery, 365 burials took place between 1888 and 1957, with the majority spanning 1900 to 1937. The information in these volumes was collected by Mary Van Manen, Elaine Thomson Davis, and Madelyn Schweizer Krug. Special thanks to the Whittier Area Genealogical Society for allowing the library to copy this material. These are stored in the Whittier History Room and are for library use only.
Olive Grove Cemetery: A Survey: This index, extracted by Bonnie J. Sell of La Mirada in 1994, lists the names and dates inscribed on individual tombstones in the Olive Grove Cemetery. This list of tombstone inscriptions is supplemented with information gleaned from original cemetery map information in church files, as well as the book New River District by Lowell H. Beachler (1985). The Mount Olive Cemetery, still in existence as of 2016 and located at 10135 South Painter Avenue in Santa Fe Springs, was established along with a church by a denomination known as Old German Baptist Brethren, or Dunkards. They came to the Whittier area in 1889 and in 1896 purchased 3.5 acres of an open barley field for $450. The Church they built was known as the New River Meeting House and the cemetery as the Olive Grove Cemetery. This resource includes a map of graves as well as an alphabetical index. Special thanks to the Whittier Area Genealogical Society for allowing the library to copy this material. It is stored in the Whittier History Room and is for library use only.
Whittier-Area School Yearbooks: The library’s collection of yearbooks includes the following schools and year-spans. These are stored in the Whittier History Room, and are available by appointment only. Please call (562) 567-9900 or email email@example.com to make an appointment.
- California High School (Unincorporated Whittier): 1954-2014
- El Rancho High School (Pico Rivera): 1953-1962
- La Serna High School (Whittier): 1963-2014
- Monte Vista High School (Unincorporated Whittier): 1966-1978
- Penn College (Oskaloosa, Iowa): 1913, 1922
- Pioneer High School (Unincorporated Whittier): 1962-1979
- Santa Fe High School (Santa Fe Springs): 1956-1978
- Sierra High School (Whittier): 1958-1979
- Whittier College (Whittier): 1903-2012
- Whittier High School (Whittier): 1903-2015
Vertical Files: The Vertical Files consist of 12 linear feet of newspaper clippings, correspondence, ephemera and other materials on various topics in Whittier History. Of particular interest to the genealogical researcher may be newspaper clippings from years of the Whittier Daily News that have not yet been digitized (1956 onward). The Vertical Files are organized by subject, and a list of subjects is available here. Subjects relevant to genealogical research include Biography, Buildings, Businesses, Churches, and Organizations. The Vertical Files are stored in the Whittier History Room, and are available by appointment only. Please call (562) 567-9900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
Biographical Encyclopedia Covering the Whittier Area: Historical Volume and Reference Works Vol. II, written by Loverne L. Morris and edited by John G. Swain. 1963. This book includes biographical sketches and photographs of notable people, as well as civic and organizational histories of the towns Whittier, Bassett, City of Industry, La Habra, La Mirada, La Puente, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, and Walnut. There are copies in the Adult Reference section of the Central Library in Uptown Whittier, as well as in the Whittier History Room. These are for library use only.
Individual Family Genealogy Manuscripts: A handful of manuscripts on the genealogy of individual family lines connected to Whittier's early history and prominent residents exist as part of the Whittier History book collection, housed in the Whittier History Room at the Central Library in Uptown Whittier. Family lines traced include those with the last names Rosenberger, Spears, Votaw, Arnold, Puckett, and Stuart. In this vein also is the book Saddleback Ancestors: Rancho families of Orange County, California. Published by the Orange County Genealogical Society in 1969, this book covers pioneering families of Orange County, and includes photographs, maps, and an alphabetical index. These materials are for library use only.
General and National Resources
Genealogy Reference Collection: A collection of approximately one hundred books on the subject of genealogy is available for library use only at the Central Library in Uptown Whittier, in the Adult Reference area.
Individual resources of note include:
- Dictionary of American Family Names, Volumes I-III. Edited by Patrick Hanks. 2003. Call no. R 929.4 DIC.
- Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, Volumes I-VI. Written by William Wade Hinshaw. 1936. Call no. R 929.1 HIN.
- Federal Population Census. Published by the National Archives & Records Administration. Set of five volumes includes years 1790-1890, 1900, 1910, 1920 & 1930. Call no. R 929.3 UNI.
- Heads of Families at the First Census of the United States Taken in the Year 1790. Set of twelve volumes includes Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusettes, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Published by Genealogical Publishing Company. 1966. Call no. R 929.3 UNI.
Subjects covered by the collection include:
- General research
- Internet-specific research
- Cemetery research
- Writing a family history
- Writing to genealogy record-keeping institutions
- Directories of State and Local genealogy resources
- Women's genealogy
- Quaker genealogy
- Mormon genealogy
- Jewish genealogy
- Civil War genealogy
- European genealogy
- British, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Scandinavian & German genealogy
- Hispanic-American Genealogy
- African-American Genealogy
- African genealogy
- American Indian Genealogy
- Asian-American Genealogy
Other Local Institutions
Whittier Area Genealogical Society: The Whittier Area Genealogical Society (WAGS) was established on May 16, 1981 and currently has over 200 members. Regular General Meetings with a guest speaker are held at 1:00 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month throughout the year and are open to the public. Meetings are held at the Masonic Lodge in Uptown Whittier, 7604 Greenleaf Avenue at Mar Vista Street. WAGS' mailing address is P.O. Box 4367, Whittier, CA 90607-4367.
Whittier Historical Society & Museum: 6755 Newlin Avenue, Whittier, Calif. (562) 945-3871. The Whittier Museum, a private, nonprofit institution owned and operated by the Whittier Historical Society, maintains collections of historical photographs, Name Files (collections of clippings similar in character to the library’s Vertical Files), maps, and local history books. Archives research is available by appointment, and free for Museum members.