Archaeological resources are non-renewable and easily damaged. The scientific, ethno-cultural, and aesthetic values of archaeological resources can be significantly impaired by disturbance. Therefore, access to such information is restricted in order to prevent desecration, vandalism, artifact hunting, and offer some protection to landowners with archaeological sites on their property from trespass. Individuals who are granted access to archaeological information housed at Information Centers under the Access Policy sign an Agreement of Confidentiality. By signing the Agreement of Confidentiality, the individual agrees to keep archaeological site content and location information confidential by not disclosing archaeological information to unauthorized individuals or including it in publicly distributed documents. (California Government Code Section 6354.10 exempts archeological sites from the California Public Records Act requiring that public records be open to public inspection.) 

Access to archaeological site information is limited to the following individuals under the conditions described in each paragraph below:

    • Historical Resources Consultants, upon first contact, must provide a resume to the SCCIC to be kept on file. The consultant must meet the requirements outlined in the Information Center Procedural Manuals Access Policy. The consultant must agree to share the results of their study with the SCCIC. Consultants working on paid projects are charged an hourly access fee to all historical resources data, whether research is conducted in person or by SCCIC staff per the CHRIS fee schedule.


    • Landowners, who wish to know about archaeological sites on their property must confirm their requests in writing along with a Proof of Ownership (such as a deed or current tax statement which clearly links their name with an Assessors Parcel Map depicting property boundaries), and a vicinity map (such as a Thomas Guide Map or 7.5 USGS Topographic Map) depicting the parcel in a larger context. If the landowner elects to have a representative, in addition to the above, that person must also retain a letter from the landowner authorizing the release of information to said representative.


  • Scholars should bring confirmation of their affiliation such as a resume or student identification card, and, if applicable, a letter from the supervising professor describing the project on which they are working. Access is considered scholarly if the individual is working on an unpaid project, such as a term paper, a graduate document, or a professional presentation. In general, there is no fee when research is conducted in person (although other fees may apply such as photocopying). There is a fee, however, if research is conducted by SCCIC staff per the CHRIS fee schedule.


Built Environment  

The SCCICs built environment library is currently unrestricted. The public is encouraged to make use of the SCCICs extensive built environment database in order to learn more about the history of their community (handling and photocopy fees may apply).  Historical resources consultants, working on paid projects are charged an hourly fee, whether research is conducted in person or by SCCIC staff per the CHRIS fee schedule.

Requesting a Records Search  

The SCCIC conducts Records Searches to assist public and private agencies in fulfilling local, state, and federal historical resource legislation requirements. A Records Search consists of an in-depth review of historical resource records (i.e. built environment, State Historic Properties Directory, National Register, California Register, California Historical Landmark, Points of Historic Interest, and prehistoric and historic archaeological records) that maybe affected by a project. Also consulted are historical resources studies that pertain to the project area and radius. In addition, an assessment of the possibility of historical resources will be made. This assessment is based on such factors as age of historic properties; presence of structures on within the project area; archaeological site distribution; and environmental setting of known historical resources in the area. 

The results of the Records Searches are presented in a letter report. Historical resource consultants who meet the Access Policy will also receive in, addition to the letter report, a bibliography of the literature reviewed, a copy of the Records Search map, and copies of reports and historical resource records if requested. When necessary, recommendations for further procedures are provided and a listing of historical resources consultants is included.

    1. Send a letter, via FAX or mail, requesting a Records Search. Faxed requests do not need to be followed by a hard copy.
    2. In the letter, provide the official project name, number, or other designation.
    3. The letter should include a brief project description and an emphasis on any potential ground disturbing activity, as well as specify any previous ground disturbance. If the project area is going to be excavated, please specify how deep. If the project is capped by fill or soil, specify the thickness of the layer.
    4. Note the agency requiring the study and whether the project is funded by federal or state funds. For example, clients requesting a Records Search for a Caltrans Encroachment Permit should indicate that on their letter.
    5. Include a statement authorizing SCCIC staff to conduct the Records Search and indicate whether the request is a "rush" or "regular" request. Please include financial authorization for the SCCIC to conduct the search and bill accordingly at the specified rate. You may include a not-to-exceed total, and indicate that you should be contacted if records search hours/total will exceed the amount you approved.
    6. Provide a 1:24,000 7.5' USGS Topographic Quadrangle or Thomas Guide map delineating the exact project boundaries of the project. The map should be a 1:1 copy (do not reduce or enlarge). Please submit the propertys address.
    7. Information regarding known or possible historical resources located within the project boundaries is helpful. Please indicate the building date of any structures that are present within the project site.
    8. Please provide contact name and phone number, as well as billing address information.
    9. We do not do third party billing. The requestor of the records search will receive the bill for service and is responsible for prompt payment.


The clearer and more detailed the information provided is, the easier and more expedient the search. 

Definition of Terms  

Term Definition
Historical Resources: The term encompasses prehistoric / historic archaeological sites and the built environment which includes historic sites, buildings, structures, objects, districts, and landscapes.
Site: Location of an event, a prehistoric or historic occupation or activity, or a building or structure, whether standing, ruined, or varnished, where the location itself possesses historic, cultural, or archaeological value regardless of the value of any existing structure
Building: Those construction created principally to shelter any form of human activity, or a historically and functionally related unit
Structure: Those functional constructions made usually for purpose other than creating human shelter
Object: Those constructions that are primarily artistic in nature or are relatively small in scale and simply constructed. Although it may be, by nature or design, movable, an object is associated with a specific setting or environment
District: A significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of sites, buildings, structures, or objects united historically or aesthetically by plan or physical development
Landscape: A geographical area that historically has been used by people, or shaped or modified by human activity, occupancy or intervention, and that possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of areas of land use vegetation, buildings and structures, roads and waterways, and natural features