To understand a city is to delve deeply into its history. How did it all begin? What were the critical events and social-political forces that gave birth to its existence? What clues can we find from San Francisco’s storied past that explain the persona, charm, prominence and dysfunctions it embodies today? Below are a number of historical organizations available for you to begin such inquiry.
The California Historical Society “is a 140-year-old, non-profit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California's richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives.”
“Charged to preserve and enhance San Francisco’s unique architectural and cultural identity, Heritage aims to help manage change over time, advocating for smart growth through the protection and reuse of historic structures and landscapes.”
“a participatory community history project documenting and archiving overlooked stories and memories of San Francisco. We are committed to defining a new kind of public space, specifically around a shared interest in our interrelated social histories.”
The San Francisco History Association is “a group dedicated to remembering our City's colorful past, and to celebrating its rich culture today.”
Based in the Old Mint at 5th & Mission, the SFMHS celebrates the history of San Francisco through monthly lectures, seasonal exhibits, and history tours, including the mint and the Barbary Coast Trail. Their long-term goal is to convert the mint to a permanent museum.
“The Daniel E. Koshland San Francisco History Center contains a research collection of books, newspapers and magazines, photographs, maps, posters, archives and manuscript collections, and ephemera, documenting all aspects of San Francisco life and history.”
“An ongoing Web-based project of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. It aims to become the definitive reference work relating to the rich history of the city of San Francisco.”
Explore HISTORY shows, watch videos and full episodes, play games and access articles on historical topics at History.com.
An interactive map showing the history of street and landmark names in San Francisco. Another source of street name history can be found here.
Genealogy and history: includes various items such as a city directory, books, newspaper notices, vital records, cemetery information, and research help.
"The mission is to reveal those stories and events that may have helped build and shape our City but, for any number of reasons, became lost with the passage of time." - From website
San Francisco History Index includes historical information from prehistory to the present including historical maps, neighborhoods, ethnic groups, an email list and forum.
Found SF focuses “on the history of the labor movement, the relationship between urban development and the natural environment, racial politics in San Francisco, land use, the history of women and feminism, immigration from many parts of the world, the emergence of gay San Francisco, the artistic life of the City, and of course, the specific history of each neighborhood.”
A general multi-media website utilizing text, graphics, and sounds. We are primarily a research and educational site for scholars, young and old. Our site features the interesting, the amusing, and the unusual in San Francisco's history.