San Mateo County Genealogical Society

Discovering Our Family History Together

SMCGS Library Information

Library information

The SMCGS Genealogy Library is located in the San Mateo Public Library at 55 West 3rd Avenue, San Mateo, California. You’ll find it on the second floor.

Sara Hayden, Library Manager

PARKING: Two hour free parking is available in the underground garage on West 3rd Avenue. 

  • The genealogy help desk is currently minimally staffed. If you wish assistance with the genealogical collection or with your own research at the library, please send an email message to the Library Manager.
  • The SMPL staff can direct you to the genealogy section. 
  • The SMCGS Library Collection does not circulate. SMCGS library books must be used in the library.   
  • The SMCGS catalog can be found at It is separate from the SMPL catalog.

Public transportation

By Train: Caltrain serves downtown San Mateo. Exit the train at the San Mateo stop. Walk south on B Street. At 3rd Avenue, walk west. The library is at 55 West Third Avenue. View Caltrain Schedule
 By Bus: SamTrans is available. Routes 250, 252, 295, and ECR stop in downtown San Mateo. View SamTrans Schedule

Some of our content



  • Book and Periodical Collection Catalog: for a current list, see the SMCGS Library Online Catalog.


Other Collections

  • County Records and Indexes
  • Newspaper Collections
  • Cemetery / Mortuary
  • Directories and Yearbooks
  • Major County Histories


The Shellens Collection

The Schellens Collection of California Materials 1852-1975 

Compiled by Richard Schellens

Richard Schellens, one of the founding members of the Redwood City Archives Committee, was an accountant by trade and a historian by obsession. His love of the history of San Mateo County and San Francisco has left us with a collection of abstracts that have been organized into binders by the Redwood City Archives Committee. Schellens gathered not only current day information, but he systematically went back through old directories, county histories, great registers, county record books and newspapers, extracting, abstracting, photocopying, and indexing the lives of the residents of San Mateo County, San Francisco, and beyond.

The originals of these volumes, which cover the whole county rather than just Redwood City, are housed in the Redwood City Main Library History Room. SMCGS has copies of the entire collection housed with our library collection . The San Mateo County collection can be found at 979.461 SCH, and the San Francisco Collection can be found at 979.461.

Three volumes of Redwood City real estate transactions include hand-drawn maps and references to the deeds in the San Mateo County Official Record books. More than fifty books hold records of Redwood City residents sorted by the main surname of the record. Other volumes are sorted by township, with both current and no longer existent townships being covered.

While the Schellens Collection would seldom be considered a primary source, being comprised of second-hand materials, it is a wonderful finding aid for records of tens of thousands of San Mateo County and San Francisco residents, as well as residents of other California counties and the western states. The main limitation of this work was the lack of an index. With the help of many dedicated SMCGS members as well as members of other societies around the state, the entire 191-volume collection has been indexed. You can find links to the indexes in the Databases section of this website.

Volumes covering the other counties of California can be found in a binder at the beginning of each county’s book collection; general volumes contained in the California Binders are also included in this index.   See Databases for links to the indexes.

It is important to note in which index you find a name if you are ordering copies or trying to find the item in the library.

San Mateo County Genealogical Society

     SMCGS is a 501(c)(3) organization

PO Box 230
San Mateo, CA 94401-0230


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