The San Diego Public Library will be closed Nov. 11, 2021 in observance of Veterans Day. Catalog and eLibrary resources will also be offline for scheduled system maintenance. View current hours and available library services.


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Marilyn & Gene Marx Special Collections Center

Located on the Ninth Floor of Central Library

Marilyn & Gene Marx Special Collections Center
330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 619-236-5800

Regular Hours

Monday 11:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday 11:30 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Friday 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Sunday Closed

Welcome to the Marilyn & Gene Marx Special Collections Center. The Center is comprised of three distinct collections: The California Collection, encompassing materials relating primarily to Southern California; The Wangenheim Rare Book Collection, with items illustrating the development of the book; and the Genealogy Collection, containing books, periodicals, and research databases.

Digital Collections

The San Diego Public Library offers patrons and users online access to our Digital Collections. The Digital Collections allows you to explore unusual and rare materials in the San Diego Public Library's Special Collections. These include items in the Wangenheim Collection, such as Babylonian clay tablets, fore-edge paintings, illuminated manuscripts, and more. Only a small fraction of our special collections have been digitized, so be sure to visit the main library to explore our collections in person as well. Be sure to visit our Digital Collections periodically as we are continously adding new digitized materials to our Digital Collections. 

View Digital Collections


Collection Highlights

Fore-edge Paintings


All About the Birds: Jacob H. Studer & Andrew J. Grayson


California Collection

Postcard image of oranges and snow peak mountains
The California Collection contains over 5,000 books on California, with a primary focus on San Diego and Southern California. The collection also includes the Great Register for San Diego (1888-1892), the San Diego Transit Company records, a full run of the San Diego Union Newspaper dating back to 1868, vintage photographs and more.
Image of an illuminated page of a book of hours
The SDPL Digital Collections allows you to explore unusual and rare items in the San Diego Public Library’s collection.
Cover of a San Diego City Directory
San Diego City Directories
Search the San Diego City Directories (1887-2020) at the Central Library or via the Library's catalog; or view them online for 1926-1960 via the City of San Diego's Digital Archives.
Image of a stack of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper
Newspaper Collection
The SDPL offers an array of historic local and state newspapers in PDF icon hard copy and on PDF icon microfilm.
Image of San Diego Map
Map Collection
SDPL’s map collection includes over 800 items with a primary emphasis on San Diego and Southern California (PDF icon holdings). This collection includes Sanborn Maps.

Hervey Family Rare Book Room

Image of the Rare Book Room at the San Diego Public Library
The Hervey Family Rare Book Room houses the Wangenheim Rare Book Collection. With over 9000 items, the collection illustrates the development of the book through the ages, in all  its aspects - the world of paper making, the art of book illustration, and the history of printing.

Collection Highlights

Image of four miniature books next to a quarter for size comparison
Miniature Book Collection
The Wangenheim Rare Book Collection holds more than 500 miniature books (PDF icon holdings).
Image of Native Americans from the Edward S. Curtis Folios
Complete set of Edward S. Curtis Folios
This complete edition of Edward Curtis’ rare work The North American Indian, consist of volumes of illustrations and photographs chronicling traditional Native American culture.
Image of a book with fore-edge painting of a bridge
The Wangenheim Collection is home to more than 200 fore-edge painted books, a unique form of art work where the painted images on the book’s fore-edge is only visible when the pages are fanned. View a digitized selections on SDPL Digital Collections.
Image of clay tablet with inscriptions
The Babylonian clay tablet collection contains clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform characters, ca. 2300 BCE. Cuneiform script is one of the earliest known systems of writing emerging from Mesopotamia. View a digitized selections on SDPL Digital Collections.

Genealogy Collection

Image of the spines of five genealogy research books
SDPL’s Genealogy Collection consists of over 10,000 book, a thousand periodical titles, as well as electronic access to databases such as, and microfilm access to the obituaries of the San Diego Union dating back to 1865. Patrons can research families by geographic locations, family names, or a more topic-specific search; such as heraldry, transport registries, regional histories, and census records.

Begin Your Search

ProQuest Ancestry Library Edition button graphic
Resources for genealogical and historical research; with more than 1.5 billion names in over 4,000 databases. Access Ancestry Library Edition remotely with your library card. Remote access will be available until December 31, 2021.
Gale Biography and Genealogy Master Index graphic
Indexes biographical listings in print dictionaries and encyclopedias covering millions individuals, both living and deceased, from every field of activity and from all areas of the world. Access database remotely with your library card.
Obituary Search button graphic
The Library offers obituary search in the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. Research to find the obituary/death notice is free, fees apply for copies. All request for an obituary search must be submitted via email to: More details and fees structure.