Skip to main content



What is OC Stories?

OC Stories celebrates the rich cultural diversity of Orange County's past and present by documenting people, businesses, institutions, and events of historical significance to Orange County, California.  OC Stories provides a free searchable database of online digital images and digitally recorded stories for students, researchers, genealogists and history lovers to connect to the rich history of Orange County.  Our images are shared with the Online Archives of California and the Digital Public Library of America.



Materials included in OC Stories are either owned by OC Public Libraries or are shared with OC Public Libraries subject to the terms of the IMAGE/RECORDING USE AGGREEMENT. Owners give OC Public Libraries permission to post images online for educational, non-commercial purposes for viewing, downloading, printing, or reproduction for historical research.  Please see our List of Donor Organizations [ ] for contact information and permission for particular images.



Copyright status is unknown. Some materials in these collections may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.



In accordance with OC Public Libraries’ policies, digital materials in OC Stories will be periodically reviewed for retention in the collection.


Sharing Images

Use of images from OC Stories is granted free of any restriction. If these images are published or displayed in any format, credit must be given to OC Stories in a credit line.


Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest

When posting an image from OC Stories on any form of social media a credit line must be given to OC Stories. The statement should read:

Courtesy of OC Stories


Contribute to OC Stories

Do you have photographs or a story to tell related to Orange County’s past? Make an appointment with the Laguna Hills Technology Library at 949-707-2699 to add your photographs or tell your story.

You can also share your digital images directly through our website:


We don’t always have complete information about items in our collection.  If you have information about any particular item, please add a tag or leave a comment.


Contact Us





The default for any type of search or browsing includes both collections, OC Stories Images and OC Stories Videos.  If you prefer to limit your search to one of the collections, click on one of the two collection boxes in the center of the screen before you begin searching or browsing.


Using the Simple Search

The simple search box at the upper left corner of the screen searches for items in the title, subjects, description, creators, contributors, and date fields.  The search is for both collections for all terms that you put in the search box, in any order.  For example, if you search for "irvine family",  the search engine searches for items containing "irvine" AND "family". (Or click Advanced Search to use other types of searches.) Searches are not case sensitive so capitalization is not needed.

The simple search box supports the use of a wildcard operator that enables you to search for approximate terms. Using an asterisk (*) at the end of a search term will search for results with none, or any number of any characters appended to the root search term.  For example, a search for “ranch*” will find results with the words "ranch," "rancher," "ranches" and so on.


New Search

After using the simple search or Advanced Search, you can start a new simple search by typing the search term and selecting New Search instead of Within Results. To clear an Advanced Search, click the Clear All button.


Refining Your Search

After using the simple search or Advanced Search, you can make your initial results more specific by searching Within Results from the simple search box or by choosing from the keywords listed in the Narrow Your Search By boxes. Depending on what type of search you have done, you will have the option to click on Creator, Subject, Date, etc. and then select keywords under that option.  You also can add or remove collections from the search by checking or unchecking boxes under Add or Remove other collections to your search.

If you have narrowed your search too far, you can step back and display previous results by removing the keywords you used in your search path (click the X next to the search term displayed at the top of your results).

You have the option to search by date within collections. The simple search box will search for the date in several fields.  You can search by year, year and month, or by month and day and year. You can also use the Narrow Your Search By date option to narrow your search results by using the drop-down list to select a date or date range.


Using the Advanced Search

The Advanced Search pane enables you to select specific collections and to build a more complex search query on selected fields.


Building Your Search

First determine which search to use (across all fields, by selected fields or by date). The default selection is to search across all fields.

Then build your query and specify the collections to search. Add more search fields by clicking Add Another Field and selecting a connector (And or Or). Reduce the number of search fields by clicking Remove. You can have as many as four search fields and as few as one field.

Advanced Search offers four search types (or operators):


Browse All - If you prefer to browse all photos, instead of entering search terms, click the Browse All button at the top left of the screen.  Browse all has most of the same options for sorting and display as simple and advanced search, except that sorting by relevancy is not possible since no search terms were entered.


Sorting Results

After performing a simple or advanced search you can select the Sort by featureabove the first row of photos to sort images according to the relevance of the photo to your search terms; to sort alphabetically by title, subject, or description; or to sort chronologically by the date the photo was taken.

After selecting Browse All to browse through the entire collection, you can use the Sort by feature to sort alphabetically by title, subject, or description; or to sort chronologically by the date the photo was taken.


Displaying Results

To change the display settings click on Display Options above the first row of photos for a popup box.  In this box you can select or deselect Quickview in order to hover over a photo to see a larger image and more information about the photo.  The default setting is to have Quickview selected.  You can also select between two Layout Options, Thumbnail to see a thumbnail version of photos with titles only, or Grid to see smaller thumbnails with more detail about each photo.

Next to the word Display is a drop down selection of the number of photos to be displayed on one screen, from 20-200


Adding Tags to a Photo

Open a single photo to add tags (keywords).  At the bottom of the screen click on Tags, then click on Add Tags.  Type your tag(s) separated by commas (example: oranges, packing), then type your name or leave name  blank to post anonymously, and click Save Tags button.


Adding Comments to a Photo

Open a single photo to leave a comment. At the bottom of the screen click on Comments, then click on Post a Comment.  Type your comment, then type your name or leave name blank to post anonymously, and click Post Comment button.

Select the collections to add or remove from your search