A historical climatology of continuous satellite-derived global land surface soil moisture is being developed. The data consist of surface soil moisture retrievals derived from all available historical and active satellite microwave sensors, including Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer, Defense Meteorological Satellites Program Special Sensor Microwave Imager, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Microwave Imager, and Aqua Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS, and span the period from November 1978 through the end of 2007. This new data set is a global product and is consistent in its retrieval approach for the entire period of data record. The moisture retrievals are made with a radiative transfer-based land parameter retrieval model. The various sensors have different technical specifications, including primary wavelength, spatial resolution, and temporal frequency of coverage. These sensor specifications and their effect on the data retrievals are discussed. The model is described in detail, and the quality of the data with respect to the different sensors is discussed as well. Examples of the different sensor retrievals illustrating global patterns are presented. Additional validation studies were performed with large-scale observational soil moisture data sets and are also presented. The data will be made available for use by the general science community.