The Sacramento Room

Dive deep into Sacramento history

The Sacramento Room is a place where we collect and preserve Sacramento’s history. Our special collections are housed in the original reference room of the 1918 Carnegie City Library at Central Library.

  • Discover the city’s rich history with a diverse set of collections
  • Work with certified archivists for in-depth analysis to satisfy your curiosity or finish a project
  • Explore history from anywhere with our digital collection

Upcoming Events & Exhibits 

Take Me to the Water: Histories of the Black Pacific (January 23 - March 16)
Join us at Central Library from January 23 to March 16 for "Take Me to the Water: Histories of the Black Pacific," a multi-media exhibit that captures the historic panorama of the Black experience with the Pacific Ocean. Curated by Dr. Caroline Collins, Take Me to the Water seeks to recenter the relationship between African Americans, water, and ships, moving beyond the entrenched narrative of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and towards the understanding that Black people have not only existed in the Pacific region for centuries, but played an integral role in the development of Pacific economy and society. The exhibit will be housed in the lobby of Central Library and is free to experience. Sacramento Public Library will also host programs with virtual and in-person events exploring this theme.

Take Me to the Water is curated by Dr. Caroline Collins of UC San Diego, toured by Exhibit Envoy, and supported by California Humanities and the Endowment for the Humanities.

Q&A: Take Me to the Water: Histories of the Black Pacific (February 8 at 6:30 p.m.)
Join us on Zoom as Dr. Caroline Collins hosts a Q&A about her exhibit "Take Me to the Water: Black Histories of the Pacific" with Sacramento Public Library archivist and historian James Scott. The talk will focus on the relationship between African Americans, water, and ships and how the exhibit helps us move beyond the entrenched narrative of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and towards the understanding that Black people have not only existed in the Pacific region for centuries, but played an integral role in the development of Pacific economy and society.


Q&A with Professor Chris Dixon: African Americans and the Pacific War, 1941-1945 (February 15 at 7 p.m.)
Join Sacramento Public Library archivist James Scott and Marcquarie University (Sydney, Australia) Professor of History Chris Dixon as they discuss his newly published book, "African Americans and the Pacific War, 1941-1945: Race, Nationality and the Fight for Freedom," (Cambridge University Press, 2018). This is a Zoom-based program that can be attended by clicking below.

The Impacts of the Pacific War on the Life and Work of Sacramento's Nathaniel S. Colley (February 24 at 1 p.m.)
Join us in the Sacramento Room at Central Library as Sacramento historian, artist, and Emmy-nominated documentarian Chris Lango discusses a lesser known yet vital chapter in the life of Sacramento attorney and civil rights champion Nathaniel S. Colley and his World War II experience in the South Pacific. Lango will use rarely seen archival materials, both in paper and audio-visual, in an effort to bring clarity to this experience and how it dramatically changed the course of his life.

William Alexander Leidesdorff: Histories of the Black Pacific (March 16 at 1 p.m.)
Born to a Danish-Jewish father and Afro Caribbean mother in the Virgin Islands at the beginning of the nineteenth-century, William Alexander Leidesdorff sailed both the Atlantic and Pacific, forged fresh trade routes, built influential relationships, and eventually settled in California where he became one of the nation's first African American millionaires. Join us at Central Library on March 16 at 1:00 pm as American River College professor of Humanities Michael Harlan shares his research on this figure who - transitioning from mariner to landholder - became one of the most influential figures on the early development of California. Facilitated by the Sacramento Room, this is a free program and no registration is required.  
Room Access
A simple set of rules has been implemented to research the room. Review the rules and learn about photocopy and digital scan procedures. See updated hours of operation.

Digital Collections
Full and open access to digital images of photographs, periodicals, ephemera, yearbooks and directories.

Sacramento Collection
Books, periodicals, maps, ephemera, postcards and photographs documenting more than 150 years of Sacramento County’s social, cultural, religious and political history.

Special Collection
Rare books that have been removed from general circulation over the years for preservation purposes, but are of continuing value and interest. This collection contains first editions, items with notable illustrations, and many volumes that have been part of the Library collection since 1879.

Records of enduring value, including architectural blueprints, accession books, reports, scrapbooks, photographs, book catalogs, policies and procedures and public relations material chronicling Library history back to 1857.

Digital Sanborn Maps 
Research local history with city plans and maps dating from 1867-1970. 

California Collection
Encompasses the history of the state with emphasis on Northern California. The collection features in-depth county histories, biographies of prominent figures in all aspects of California history, and information on the natural, cultural and social history of the state.

Printing and Book Arts History Collection
Depicts the history of books, including printing, binding, papermaking, type design and illustration. This collection has many examples of printing by fine presses throughout the world.

Sacramento Area Authors Collection
Includes books published by authors who have close ties to the Sacramento area.

Sacramento Musicians and Songwriters Collection
Includes published recordings by local musicians and sheet music by local composers and lyricists.

Pamphlet Files
File folders containing news clippings and short articles on hundreds of local history topics.
Have Questions?
Do I have to work with an archivist?

No. You are welcome to visit the Room during open hours. Staff are always available to point you in the right direction, photocopy materials and offer magnifying glasses, pencils, and paper.

Is the Sacramento Room always open?

The digital collection is always available, while the Sacramento Room is open throughout the week and by appointment.

What about that Lady Bird script?

It’s true. We have a copy of the script signed by the writer and filmmaker herself. You can see any time the Room is open.

Contact Us