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Suggested Reading
Over the years, much has been written about the history of Orange County. The Centennial Bibliography of Orange County (1989) lists more than 5,300 books, articles, and government documents. Here is a selection of some of the best books about Orange County’s past. Some of these books have become local classics; others are known only to a few specialists. Most of them now are out of print, but copies can still be found in local libraries, at used bookstores, and on the Internet.


General Works
Leo J. Friis
Orange County Through Four Centuries (1965)

Pamela Hallan-Gibson
The Golden Promise, An Illustrated History of Orange County (1986; 2nd edition, 2002)

Doris Walker
Orange County, A Centennial Celebration (1989)

Esther Cramer, et al.
A Hundred Years of Yesterdays, A Centennial History of the People of Orange County and their Communities (1988; 2nd edition, 2004)

John Sorenson (ed.)
The Orange Blossoms, 50 Years of Growth in Orange County (2000)

Jim Sleeper
Jim Sleeper’s Orange County Almanac of Historical Oddities (3 volumes, 1971-82)

Don Meadows
Historic Place Names in Orange County (Balboa Island: Paisano Press, 1966)

Phil Brigandi
Orange County Place Names A to Z (2006)

Cities and Towns


Leo J. Friis
Historic Buildings of Pioneer Anaheim (1979)
Campo Aleman, The First Ten Years of Anaheim (1983)

Mildred Yorba MacArthur
Anaheim, “The Mother Colony” (1959)


Esther Cramer
Brea: The City of Oil, Oranges, and Opportunity (1992)

Teresa Hampton
Brea: Celebrating 75 Years (1993)

CSUF Oral History Program
Pipelines to the Past, An Oral History of Olinda, California (1978)

Costa Mesa

Edrick J. Miller
A Slice of Orange. The History of Costa Mesa (1970; 2nd edition, 1976)

Dana Point

Doris Walker
Dana Point Harbor/Capistrano Bay: Home Port for Romance (1981; 4th edition, 1995)

El Toro

Clara Mason Fox
A History of El Toro (1939)

Joe Osterman
Fifty Years in “Old” El Toro, A Family, a Time, A Place (1982)


Bob Ziebell
Fullerton, A Pictorial History (1994)

Garden Grove

Leroy Doig
The Village of Garden Grove (1962)
The Town of Garden Grove (1966)
The City of Garden Grove (1977)

Huntington Beach

Diann Marsh
Huntington Beach, The Gem of the South Coast (1999)


Robert Glass Cleland
The Irvine Ranch of Orange County (1952; 3rd edition, 1962)

Judy Liebeck
Irvine, A History of Innovation and Growth (1990)

La Habra

Esther Cramer
La Habra, The Pass Through the Hills (1969; 2nd edition, 2003)

Laguna Beach

Merle and Mabel Ramsey
Pioneer Days of Laguna Beach (1967)

Karen Wilson Turnbull
Three Arch Bay, An Illustrated History (1977, 2nd edition, 2008)

Laguna Niguel

Donald M. and Mary L. Decker
Laguna Niguel, The Legacy and the Promise (1990)

Mission Viejo

Doris Walker
Mission Viejo: The Ageless Land, From Prehistory to Present (2005)

Newport Beach

James Felton (ed.)
Newport Beach 75 (1981; 2nd edition, 1988)

Ellen Lee
Newport Bay, A Pioneer History (1973)

Samuel A. Meyer
50 Golden Years, A History of the City of Newport Beach, 1906-1956 (1957)


Wayne Dell Gibson
The Olive Mill, Orange County’s Pioneer Industry (1975)


Phil Brigandi
Orange, The City ‘Round the Plaza (1997)
A New Creation. The Incorporation of the City of Orange, 1888 (1988)


Virginia Carpenter
Placentia, A Pleasant Place (1977)

San Clemente

Doris Walker
The Heritage of San Clemente (2000)

Homer Banks
The Story of San Clemente, the Spanish Village (1930)

San Juan Capistrano

Pamela Hallan-Gibson
Dos Cientos Años en San Juan Capistrano (1975; 2nd edition, 200 Years in San Juan Capistrano, 1990)

Santa Ana

Diann Marsh
Santa Ana – An Illustrated History (1994)

Charles D. Swanner
Santa Ana, A Narrative of Yesterday, 1870-1910 (1953)


Carol Jordan
Tustin: A City of Trees (1996)

Villa Park

Louise Booth
Villa Park, Then and Now (1976)


Ivana Freeman Bollman
Westminster Colony, California, 1869-1879 (1983)

Yorba Linda

March Butz
Yorba Linda, Its History (1970)

Special Subjects

William McCawley
The First Angelinos, The Gabrielino Indians of Los Angeles County (1996)

John P. Harrington (annotations)
Chinigchinich, A Revised and Annotated Version of Alfred Robinson’s Translation of Father Geronimo Boscana’s Historical Account of the … Indians of this Mission of San Juan Capistrano (1933) [Also found in some editions of Alfred Robinson’s Life in California, first published in 1846 and often reprinted.]

Spanish and Mexican Eras

Father Zephyrin Engelhardt
San Juan Capistrano Mission (1922)

Charles Francis Saunders and Father St. John O’Sullivan
Capistrano Nights, Tales of a California Mission Town (1930)

Terry Stephenson
Caminos Viejos. Tales Found in the History of California (1930)

Santa Ana Mountains

Terry Stephenson
Shadows of Old Saddleback, Tales of the Santa Ana Mountains (1931)

Jim Sleeper
A Boys’ Book of Bear Stories (Not for Boys). A Grizzly Introduction to the Santa Ana Mountains (1976)


Stephen E. Donaldson and William A. Myers
Rails Through the Orange Groves, A Centennial Look at the Railroads of Orange County, California (2 volumes, 1989-90)

Edrick J. Miller
The Hayburners of Orange County (1978)
(19th century horse-drawn streetcars)

Vi Smith
From Jennies to Jets. The Aviation History of Orange County (1974)

Ethnic Groups

Gilbert G. Gonzalez
Labor and Community: Mexican Citrus Worker Villages in a Southern California County, 1900-1950 (1994)

Philippa Strum
Mendez v. Westminster. School Desegregation and Mexican-American Rights (2010)

Stephanie George and Carlota F. Haider
Sowing Dreams, Cultivating Lives. Nikkei Farmers in Pre-World War II Orange County (2009)

Robert A Johnson and Charlene M. Riggins
A Different Shade of Orange. Voices of Orange County, California, Black Pioneers (2009)

World War II

Edrick J. Miller
The SAAAB Story. The History of the Santa Ana Army Air Base (1981; 2nd edition, 1989)


Randy Bright
Disneyland: Inside Story (1987)

Bruce Gordon and David Mumford
Disneyland, The Nickel Tour (1995; 2nd edition, 2000)

Christopher Merritt and J. Eric Lynxwiler
Knott’s Preserved. From Boysenberry to Theme Park, The History of Knott’s Berry Farm (2010)

People and Personalities
Orange County Genealogical Society
Saddleback Ancestors, Rancho Families of Orange County, California (1969; 2nd edition, 1998)

Terry Stephenson
Don Bernardo Yorba (1941; 2nd edition, 1963)

Virginia Carpenter
The Ranchos of Don Pacifico Ontiveros (1982)

Richard Curtiss
Theodore E. Schmidt: A Pioneer Family in Anaheim (1984)

Jim Sleeper
Turn the Rascals Out! The Life and Times of Orange County’s Fighting Editor, Dan M. Baker (1973)

Joseph S. Thurston
Laguna Beach of Early Days (1947)

T.B. Talbert
My Sixty Years in California (1952)

Don Meadows
A California Paisano. The Life of William McPherson (1973)

Donald H. Pflueger (ed.)
Charles C. Chapman. The Career of a Creative Californian (1976)

Charles D. Swanner
50 Years a Barrister in Orange County (1965)

Robert Gardner
Bawdy Balboa (1992)

Southern California Works
(Useful for general background and some specific references to Orange County)

Robert Glass Cleland
The Cattle on a Thousand Hills. Southern California, 1850-1880 (1941; 2nd edition, 1951)

Glenn Dumke
The Boom of the Eighties in Southern California (1944)

W.W. Robinson
Land in California. The Story of Mission Lands, Ranchos, Squatters, Mining Claims, Railroad Grants, Land Script, Homesteads (1948)