Thursday, September 8, 2011

Los Angeles County Archives and Records Center

If you are looking for probate, divorce, or civil court cases more than five years old, you'll need to do some research at the Los Angeles County Archives and Records Center, located at 211 N. Hill Street, in downtown Los Angeles. For specific information about hours, records availability, copy charges, etc., see their website.

Here are some tips if you plan to visit:

  1. Unless you love crazy traffic and exorbitant parking charges, take public transportation. The archives are just a short walk from the Metro Red Line Civic Center station.
  2. I also recommend dressing in layers; it can be quite warm in the microfilm library, especially at the film readers.
  3. It's easy to miss the entrance; see the image from Google Earth below. Although construction is going on right now, you can access the elevator down to the Archives from outside the building, which will save walking through a maze of corridors. The red arrow on the photo shows the location.
  4. The archives are located on the 2nd lower level; the microfilm library is on the 1st lower level. 
  5. Visit the archives on the 2nd lower level first to get the case number(s); then you will go to the microfilm library on the 1st lower level.
  6. You will take a number and sign in at the microfilm library. Allow yourself plenty of time. My experience has been there is usually a two-hour wait to view microfilm or speak with a clerk about the documents you want.
  7. There is a 30-minute time limit on the use of microfilm readers, and there are only 4 readers. If you want something specific, such as the final judgment on a divorce or just the will from a probate file, I recommend asking the clerk to copy it for you, rather than using a reader.
  8. Once you have your documents, a clerk will write up a work invoice which you take the cashier on the 2nd lower level. Then you go back to the microfilm library to pick up your documents!

Elevator to Archives is located to the left of where the red arrow is pointing.
Good luck in your genealogy search!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research


  1. Looks like I'll have to bookmark this for a field trip!

    Thanks Denise, nice info!

  2. Thanks for such a nice explanation of how to get records in downtown LA! I struggled to find everything myself last year, so now I'm better prepared. I'll be attending the So Calif Gene Soc Jamboree next month. Hope to see you there! Donna Wendt

    1. The first time I went to the Archives, I was very confused; researching in LA is so different from the small county courthouses I had been to in Texas! I will be at Jamboree so maybe we will run into each other!

  3. Denise, I have a copy of the Petition for Letters of Administration for my great grandfather, John Henry Kreis #253214 stating that he died on or about the 22 of Oct 1945. But he is not in the California Death Index. Do you know how I can find his death record?

    1. Hi, Pat, Perhaps an indexing error is to blame - try searching the index using only date of death, gender, and county - hopefully there won't be too many names to check. Also, death records in Los Angeles County can be viewed at the recorder's office in Norwalk; see the post on vital records at There are separate death indexes for Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County for some years; perhaps not all were included in the state index. Good luck!