CHINO (CBSLA.com) — A Chino woman is trying to track down the relatives of a now-deceased man after she said she found his diploma from the year 1896 in her basement.

Julia Brown said she found the diploma from Northern Illinois College of Ophthalmology and Otology while cleaning out the basement at her home on Schaefer Avenue.

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(credit: Peter Daut/CBS)

(credit: Peter Daut/CBS)

“As we moved other stuff, it became apparent there was something there,” recalls Brown, who made the find a few days ago.

“I was just stunned. When I really looked at it closely and looked at the year, I went ‘No I’m reading this incorrectly,’ ” she said.

Brown has lived in the home for 21 years and has no idea how the diploma, over a century-old, got there.

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Still in good condition, it states that Clarence McDonald Stevenson received a Doctor of Optics degree from the Chicago school.

“It deserves to be somewhere other than in our basement for sure,” she said.

Brown has done some research online and discovered that Stevenson was born in Missouri in 1877 and died in Los Angeles in 1943, four years before her house had been built.

“Somebody held this thing in their hands after a lot of hard work getting a doctorate degree over 100 years ago, and it’s still here,” she said.

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Brown says she has not been able to track down the previous owners of her home. Meanwhile, research conducted by KCAL9 found that Stevenson had a wife and a daughter, who was born in 1908.