Pasadena (CA) Research - How To Do It Yourself
Originally, this was a brochure that was sent to people who sent a letter to the Pasadena Genealogy Society or to the Pasadena Public Library. The library does have a genealogy room but does not have the staff to answer genealogical correspondence, except minor questions. The Pasadena Genealogy Society dissolved in 1996.
This page fills two purposes. One is how to get information for yourself without paying a researcher. The other is what information is available by hiring a researcher. You can keep research costs down by doing your homework first. It is assumed that no matter what you want, it took place in Los Angeles County, with emphasis on Pasadena Altadena, South Pasadena, or San Marino.
If you need help beyond the scope of the contents of this brochure, then below are addresses of the two nearest genealogical societies. I'm sorry, but I personally no longer have the time to take on new clients.
Southern Calif Gen Soc PO Box 4377 Burbank CA 91503. Their library phone is 818-THE-SCGS. SCGS is the largest society in southern California. They have a research team. The library is about 15 miles west of Pasadena.
Glendora Genealogical Group PO Box 1141 Glendora CA 91741. Glendora is about 20 miles east of Pasadena. They have about 60 members. I don't know if they have specific researchers. If the PO Box ends up bad, they meet at: La Fetra Senior Center 333 E. Foothill Blvd in Glendora and you could contact them.
Birth, marriage, and death records for Los Angeles County
If that link breaks, do a search on "los angeles county recorder"
If the person died in Pasadena or one of the cities bordering it, chances are very good that they are buried at Mt View Cemetery (or) Mausoleum. They are formally known as Pasadena Cemetery Association and the address is PO Box M Altadena CA 91001. They have everyone listed in their computer and can tell you by mail or phone if someone is buried there. If that is all you want, save research money and write them directly - or call during "business hours" at 626-794-7133.
Altadena is the unincorporated town that is between Pasadena and the mountains. The cemetery is physically across the street from the Pasadena city limits. Many years ago, people may have said they lived in Pasadena when they actually lived in Altadena, so don't let that confuse the issue.
You will probably find a mortuary listed on the death certificate. Most of the old mortuaries in Pasadena have either gone out of business or been absorbed into one of the four that are currently operating. If the mortuary name includes Ives, Warren, Stump, Mt View, or Pasadena Mausoleum, contact Pasadena Cemetery Assoc, address previously cited. If the name includes Reynolds, VanNuys, Salsburry, Edwards, Cummings, Lewis, Turner, or Stevens, contact Turner & Stevens. If the name is Lamb, contact Angeleno Pasadena Mortuary. I don’t believe Cabot and Sons has had any other name, or absorbed anyone else.
Cabot & Sons 626-793-7159
27 Chestnut St
Pasadena CA 91103-3899
In business since 1921. Since I’ve never had personal dealing with them, I don’t know what kind of records they have.
Pasadena Cemetery Assoc (address in Cemetery section)
They do have a limited amount of funeral records. You should be specific in asking for funeral record information in addition to the information that is on the computer printout. Otherwise, they will just give the data from the computer.
Angeleno Pasadena Mortuary 626-449-2121
415 E Orange Grove Blvd
Pasadena CA 91104-4397
Used to be called Lamb Funeral Home. They have some great records with all kinds of info, depending on time period. Records are from 1929. They existed prior to 1929 at another address and when they moved they did not keep the records.
Turner & Stevens 323-283-2212
550 E Main St
Alhambra CA 91801-3961
They have records from when in Pasadena. Records vary. Some really good ones, so it’s worth a try. Cooperative, but the archives are in a storage area. Depending on how busy they are, it may take a week or two for them to look up.
1455 N Fair Oaks Ave
Pasadena CA 91103-1892
The primary clientele from this mortuary is African-American so if you don’t know the mortuary and this is your area of research, then try them.
If the person you are looking for had any kind of prominence, you might also write to the Pasadena Museum of History (formerly called Pasadena Historical Society) 470 W Walnut Pasadena CA 91103 to see if they have any biographical information in their files.
Research - Pasadena
The main branch of Pasadena Public Library has the microfilm of the Star News since just before the turn of the century. The paper has had slight differences in its name through the years but is basically the same paper. That takes care of obituaries. The library also has the city directories; a few before 1900, several in the 1900's and 19teens, and fairly complete since the 1920's. (As previously stated, the library's reference department may or may not have time to do any of this type research.) As for the usual county type records, only a very small amount of recent (less than 10 years) records are on file at the courthouse in Pasadena. The vitals and deeds are in Norwalk, and the probate & divorce records are in downtown Los Angeles.
Research - Los Angeles County
Los Angeles County has the largest population of any county in the country, and is the second largest county in physical size. Unlike many states, you can't go from one county seat to another in a half hour drive. Pasadena is north and slightly east of downtown Los Angeles and city hall to city hall, they are about 15 miles apart. A few years ago, the county moved the county recorder’s office to Norwalk, another city about 15 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, and about 30 miles southeast of Pasadena. The probate and divorce records remained downtown where the parking is non-existent on the streets, and the parking lot prices are exorbitant. And with the gas prices the way they are, don't be surprised if a researcher needs to charge a high trip charge.
If you need to hire a researcher to go to Pasadena Library, Norwalk or Los Angeles, contact SCGS above and ask for a recommendation.
Land records are also located at Norwalk and I've only had occasion once to look at them. They are on microfilm and are horrible to work with. I'd rather not deal with them. However, since everything is on microfilm, you can order them through Salt Lake to your local Family History Center (you can get the film numbers online at Famiy Search).
Probate and Divorce Records
The indexes for these records are downtown in the archives, and are not microfilmed that I'm aware of. You'll definitely need to hire a researcher for those. In 2000, the photocopying charge was 57 cents a page plus the postage. The postage is realistic, not inflated. I haven't checked the price in recent years.
"All I wanted was an obit." For some of you who read this, I have given you ten times as much detail as you needed, but I wanted to make an all purpose brochure that would cover most situations. If nothing else, you now have an idea of the complexity of researching in the largest populated county in the country and you can be glad for those little counties in the Midwest and East.
If you got here from my personal website and want to bo back to my home page,