Hello! from the State of Arizona Research Library. We are delighted to help answer your questions on a variety of topics, law, legislation, legal history, genealogy, State and Federal Documents and more.  While we can help you locate information on legal issues, we can’t give legal advice.  Some of our resources can be accessed only by coming in to the library while others can be accessed 24 x 7 x 365.

These resources may not be comprehensive, but will lead you to resources at our library and other external resources. If there is a topic that is not addressed here you can contact us here. Happy browsing!

Posted in News | Tagged

The Lost Dutchman’s Lost House

Lost Dutchman articleThe morning of February 19, 1891 began “WITH A CRASH” according to the Arizona Republican, chronicling the largest flood the pioneer city of Phoenix had witnessed the next day, Feb. 20. Subheadlines state “Fell Many Adobe Houses Last Night” and “SEVERAL PEOPLE PROBABLY LOST”. The story details hundreds of families displaced, and the damage done to Tempe, including the railroad bridge across the Salt River washing out for what was not to be the final time.

Historical hindsight tells us the story takes no notice of who would become the flood’s perhaps most famous victim. It mentions water pouring over lower Dutch Ditch, but not the Dutch or Deutsche man, Jacob Waltz, a resident of one of the washed-out adobe houses located in the northeast corner of section 16, Township 1 North, Range 3 East—today the southwest corner of 16th Street and Buckeye. Exposure due to the flood led to Waltz’s final illness and death, rendering him unable to make his regular journey back to the Superstition Mountains and the supposed location of his gold mine. He recuperated in an apartment above Julia Thomas’s store, eventually telling his story and dying eight months later on October 25, passing from mortality to history, and from there to legend…

Posted in Uncategorized

The Dummy and the Vault

A dummy tells a librarian to look for a book in a vault, but what if that vault no longer exists* in reality? This is not a premise for a Twilight Zone episode, but describes how the State of Arizona Research Library protects its rare books.

Scattered throughout the Arizona Collection are “dummy” books, which are often book-sized wooden planks wrapped in brown paper, and bearing a call number directing library staff where to find the real book. In other institutions, and in the Research Library’s past, the “dummy” book is a place holder in open stacks and refers patrons to library staff who may retrieve the real book from closed stacks.


“Dummy books” in the Arizona Collection

But some “dummy” books direct us to very closed stacks.  When he reported on his facilities in 1940, State Librarian Mulford Winsor noted that “Separate quarters for special collections, to which access may be had only under supervision, obviate confusion and safeguard against loss. Enclosed and locked bookshelves and vault space lend extra protection to rare items”.

In this case Winsor meant a literal vault. This combination safe, housed in the reading room of the former state library, held older and valuable books Winsor collected. It was the most secure location in the 1938 Capitol Addition: At one time, the vault housed the State Constitution of Arizona.


As times change, vaults change. The Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives building currently houses the ‘vault’ books behind two restricted-access doors secured by modern electronic badge readers. For a time, locked cabinets took the place of a vault to hold rare items, but now these books sit on a special set of shelves in a climate controlled warehouse pod. Arizona Collection librarians have added to this collection after considering a book’s age, condition, and scarcity, with a focus on those produced during Arizona’s Territorial period, or before.

Some of the oldest-looking volumes look imposing:  A three-volume set of Monarquia Indiana by Fray Juan de Torquemada has been rebound in vellum with hand-lettered spine titles and decorations. It is the second edition, printed in Madrid, about 1723.

Books 1

Another vellum-bound volume is the Crónica seráfica y apostólica del colegio de Propaganda Fide de la Santa Cruz de Querétaro en la Nueva España, by Juan Domingo Arricivita. Technology protecting this volume has progressed even further; now patrons don’t even have to touch the original to see a copy: Google Books has digitized it.

Not every volume is quite so old, or related to pre-territorial history. The ‘vault’ also preserves a physical copy of Thomas Edwin Farish’s eight volume History of Arizona, from 1916-1918, of which volumes 1-3 are also available on the Arizona Memory Project.

Whatever form the library’s books take, from print to digital, the State of Arizona Research Library systems work to balance access with preservation and security, making them available to patrons, while not getting lost in some… well, you know what Rod Serling says.

*The original vault does still exist, but we don’t keep books in it anymore.

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Arizona eBooks

We are excited to announce that Reading Arizona, the Digital Arizona Library‘s eBook collection, is officially up and running on it’s new platform. In partnership with Baker & Taylor, the worldwide distributor of digital and print books, Reading Arizona can be accessed with the Axis 360 mobile app. The collection now contains more contemporary titles, as well as digital audio-books.

Reading Arizona

New Arizona-themed titles will be regularly added to the collection to include a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, teen and children’s eBooks.

Click here to get started!

This project is supported by the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Posted in DAZL, Reading Arizona

Cinderella minus her prince…


One of the great things about packing our collections for the move is that we’re getting a chance to go through everything. We have a lot of stuff. Aside from the million or so books, we also have puzzles, kits, posters, and games. If it was published by the State of Arizona or the Federal Government in the last 100 + years, we probably have it around here somewhere. Some of the older stuff can be pretty dated, but it’s part of our government’s history, and our role at the Research Library is to preserve that history, make it accessible, and learn from it.

With that in mind, we found this training game in our State Documents collection: Cinderella Minus the Prince: The Displaced Homemaker.


It was developed in 1980 by The Project for Homemakers in Arizona Seeking Employment (PHASE) and the University of Arizona, with a grant from the Arizona Department of Education. The objectives, as stated in the instructions, are:

  1. To heighten the awareness of the needs and concerns of displaced homemakers; and
  2. To become aware of the intense feelings and sometimes desperate concerns of the displaced homemakers.

Here is the basic premise of the game: players each adopt a persona of a “displaced homemaker” — which is a recently divorced or widowed woman.  The personas are very specific — detailing age, race, and health, as well as the number of children each has. Each persona is assigned a number of points.


The game progresses as the displaced homemakers gain support from a variety of resources by attending community college, seeking counseling,  or receiving assistance from family, religious organizations, women’s groups, and employment agencies. The players progress around a room, stopping at each of these service providers and drawing a card.


One of the key takeaways of this exercise is that the resources that are supposed to exist to support these women do not always come through. As often as these cards state a positive outcome and increase the player’s points, they may also throw up a roadblock and take points away.


The point of this game is apparently not to make displaced homemakers aware of services, but to educate those who might be providing the services. Preparing people to re-enter the workplace after a long gap in employment is an important job, and understanding the specific fears and frustrations of displaced homemakers can only smooth the process.

Although this game is nearly 40 years old, after reviewing its contents, it’s obvious that the challenges facing displaced homemakers have not changed.  And neither has their need for support and services. That Arizona State Department of Economic Security has a webpage for “dislocated workers” and the Arizona Job Connection has a portal that includes resources for training and education.

And libraries are another resource for displaced homemakers. During the Great Recession, job help hubs began appearing in public libraries across the country. Libraries offer technology classes, resume writing workshops, and education tools. The Digital Arizona Library offers a number of these tools online, including Career Transitions, Learning Express Library, and the  Testing and Educational Reference Center.

And don’t forget, libraries still provide free books too.


Posted in Arizona State Government Publications, Libraries

How did Arizona get its shape?

Johnson's California with Arizona, 1864

Johnson’s California with Arizona, 1864

The State of Arizona Research Library has just launched a new digital Story Map called, How Did Arizona Get its Shape? A Story Map is an interactive platform that combines digitized maps, images, and text to provide a narrative. The maps are overlaid on  current topographical layers to allow a modern comparison.  This Story Map lets you explore historical maps of North America and see how Arizona evolved into its modern borders over several centuries, from 1679 to 1912.

The Story Map highlights thirteen periods in history in which significant events occurred on the North American continent. Every historical period includes a digitized map that shows how borders on the continent changed as a result of the events within that period.

The maps start out covering large geographic areas, as large as the entire North American continent. As the story advances through time, the maps begin narrowing in on smaller geographic areas until the focus is entirely on Arizona as its borders are shaped today.

This Story Map is a great resource to view historical maps and it is a fun way to learn more about the history and importance of Arizona in a larger global context.

Launch the Story Map, How Did Arizona Get its Shape?

Posted in Uncategorized

Researching Property History in Arizona, Part 5: Flood Control District Aerial Photos

(This is Part 5 of a series written by team member Chris Seggerman. Read Part 1. Read Part 2. Read Part 3. Read Part 4.) 

What was in a vacant lot, in the time before it became vacant? Was there ever anything there? Photographs freeze time, helping researchers to see what a house or landscape looked like in the past. Google Earth shows current aerial views, but for historical aerial photos across the decades, consult the Maricopa County Flood Control District website.

By default, the site shows the most recent available year. Clicking on “Change Aerial” on the right side of the screen opens up a small menu to the left of the screen, with choices of “View a Single Year Aerial”, “Compare 2 Years of Aerials” and “View Oblique Aerial”.

Comparing two years divides the screen with a slider, showing decades of change with a drag of the mouse. The “View Oblique Aerial” option is only for 1930 and shows the map with associated oblique photos and instructions on how to view them. Resolution varies yearly, and some years had very limited coverage. Zooming out completely shows total coverage for each year.

Portland St, Phoenix 1930

Portland St, Phoenix 1930

Researchers will likely want to zoom in on a particular mile or half-mile, then note changes for each photo set. For instance, the area in the Simm’s Addition subdivision, part of which now contains Hance Park, shows change each decade. 1930 shows a row of houses south of Culver, with larger, wooded lots north of Westmoreland. By 1959 some of the lots have emptied, with nearly no houses by 1979.

Portland St, Phoenix 1979

Portland St, Phoenix 1979

The 1986 image shows something like a large quarry, but what was Westmoreland Park is still there. 1991 shows the beginning of the current park, but large blank patches and signs of construction remain. The green lines of what would become I-10 are overlaid throughout, and these photos show how, over the decades, land was cleared along its path.

4. Portland 1986

Portland St, Phoenix 1986

Portland 2013

Portland St, Phoenix 2013

For historians studying development in Phoenix, quick access to these photos proves an invaluable resource.  They can witness neighborhoods expand and contract, or just find out if a house had a pool—or was simply a vacant lot.

Posted in Genealogy, Research, Resources

Book Curses

Libraries have long employed book curses to protect their volumes, and the State Research Library is no exception! However, instead of calling upon ravens to pluck out the thieves’ eyes, ours invoke honor, history, and money.

Mulford Winsor, State Librarian from 1932-1956, affixed this warning to newspaper folio volumes kept at the State Library, noting they are “compiled and bound at considerable expense of time, labor, and money.” Winsor was active in newspaper work as well as politics. As State Librarian, he developed the newspaper collection for “all investigators, research workers and historians who may have need of it.”
Book PlateIronically, the changing nature of preservation and access would make such measures unnecessary.  The warning correctly notes “The pages become brittle with age, and are easily broken.”  But, to preserve the newspapers for the future generations, State Library staff have had to disobey many, many of these printed warnings.

Unbinding and cutting apart the volumes is the first step in microfilming and digitizing newspapers. Researchers who have seen microfilm of bound pages, with important details swallowed up in the bound crease of the page, know why.  Collators over the years have encountered stitched bindings, and newspapers held together with staples as thick as carpenters’ nails. At first the papers were merely microfilmed for preservation and access, but beginning in 2004, the National Digital Newspaper Program began funding digitization of the microfilm, which the State Research Library has participated in since 2007, leading to the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program, where researchers can enjoy what those massive newspaper folios protected—without the threat of a curse!


Posted in Arizona Digital Newspaper Project, History