The California Constitution of 1849 provided for the county offices of clerk, district attorney, sheriff, coroner and supervisors. The earliest act prescribing the duties of the county clerk was passed by the first California legislature on April 18, 1850.
In Sonoma County, the County Clerk is also the Registrar of Voters and the Commissioner of Marriages.
The Clerk of the Board of Supervisors and the Clerk of the Court are separate offices.
On September 9, 1850 California was admitted as the 31st state and one of the first acts of the legislature was to adopt a recording system.
Under the Spanish and Mexican governments there were no statewide registry or recording laws, so it was necessary that some device be created by which evidence of title to, or an interest in land could be collected in a convenient and safe public place. The system allows persons intending to purchase or otherwise deal with land to be informed as to the ownership and condition of the title, and be protected from secret conveyance and liens.
The basis of the California recording system is modeled after the recording system established by the American Colonies and in use in many of the eastern states at the time California became a state.
This system provided for the indexing of the names of parties to the document in volumes and the copying of the actual document into separate volumes. This copying was done first by hand and in later years by typing and then by filming.
Separate sets of indexes and volumes were provided for each type of document. Government Codes § 27232 through 27254 presently list 21 different types of indexes that the Recorder shall provide for.
This system of indexing became cumbersome as the volume of recorded documents grew and in 1921 the legislature provided that a combined General Index could be used by the Recorder to index all types of documents.