In a democracy, access to public records – both past and present – is critical. Moreover, knowing our history is crucial to understanding our communities, where we’ve come from, and how best to plan for the future. And preserving important information and images of the past is simply the right thing to do. The Orange County Archives helps meet all these needs. It is a research center for the preservation and study of local history and is charged with promoting knowledge and understanding of the origins and history of Orange County.
Located in the Old County Courthouse in Santa Ana, the Archives contains a unique collection of government records and other material documenting the rich history of our county, the majority of which come from county government, beginning with Orange County’s separation from Los Angeles in 1889. However, the Archives also collects non-official historical materials which document the history of the county, resulting in a collection that is both extensive and diverse. Staff members help visitors solve various historical, genealogical, and legal mysteries, and also organize historical exhibits, speak in public on subjects relating to county history, and sometimes help guide historical projects undertaken by county government organizations. The Archives is, in many ways, the hub of Orange County history.
Chris Jepsen is the Assistant Archivist at the Orange County Archives. A life-long resident of Huntington Beach, Chris is also a local historian and serves as president of the Orange County Historical Society. He maintains a blog dedicated to Orange County history, The O.C. History Roundup, and also writes the “Ask the O.C. Answer Man” column for Orange Coast magazine. Over the years, Chris has been involved in a wide variety of historical endeavors. He says he sometimes spends more time as a history evangelist and history enabler than as an historian.