Other Places to Find SF History Images

Looking for more images from San Francisco’s rich history? Here we list some of our favorite free online resources for research, education, and enjoyment.

Remember that not everything is online. Some of the Bay Area’s great institutions have only a small portion of their collections online. We recommend in-person visits to the San Francisco History Center, the California Historical Society, The Society of California Pioneers, The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, the California State Library, and the GGNRA Archives.

San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection
San Francisco History Center of the San Francisco Public Library
40,000 images from the city’s official archive.

A map tool to browse the SF library’s great collection

Another neat mapping tool with curated collections

SFMTA Photography Department & Archive
Beautiful and informative collection of transit and landmarks

1951 San Francisco Assessors Negatives
Curated by Western Neighborhoods Project
An online collection of SF buildings, grand and humble from 1951

David Rumsey Map Collection
More than maps (which are amazing), see the collection of aerial photographs of the entire city in 1938

Calisphere (University of California)
Images from the state’s great libraries, archives, and museums

Golden Gate National Recreation Area Park Archives
National Park Service

Jesse Brown Cook Scrapbooks
Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley
Lots of candid views of many SF street scenes

Lawrence & Houseworth Albums
The Society of California Pioneers
1,495 Historical Photographs of California and Nevada, including 296 of San Francisco in the 1860s

Charles W. Cushman Photograph Collection
Indiana University
1,788 color images of San Francisco in mid 20th Century

Max Kirkeberg Collection
Photographs of San Francisco neighborhoods from the 1970s to the present, collected and shot by the SF State geography professor emeritus.

Enhancements Planned for OpenSFHistory

Our goal in creating OpenSFHistory is to build the most accessible collection of historical San Francisco images in existence. To that end we have the following features in mind.

Advanced Search – allowing filtering by date, location, update time, and date added to the site

Map Enhancement –  filtering by date, clustering of markers.

Enhanced Mobile Device Support – currently, small screens are not supported well by the map  or by lightbox modal windows. We are actively working on the issue.

Print Sales – We are in the process of creating a program whereby users can buy high-resolution images for printing.

Related Institutions Metadata- We will connect individual images with institutions that possess related items. In the case of reproduced copy negatives, we hope to identify and link to the agency or institution where the original is held.

Photographer/Contributor Metadata – We will acknowledge creators and contributors where possible, creating links to biographies and related collections.

Greater Interpretation of Images – We will strive to interpret images, not just to present them without comment.

Incorporation of User Input – We don’t know everything about every image. We encourage users to correct and identify misinformation. Each image has image has a contact form attached to it on its detail display page for this expressed purpose.