San Francisco Public Library
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Paper Collections

Architectural Drawings

Plans, elevations, and other drawings for more than 50 significant San Francisco structures. A card catalog, and a guide to Sutro Baths drawings, are available.

Biography Files

San Francisco Biography Files hold material relating to notable persons in San Francisco, the greater Bay Area, and California. Biographees include mayors, captains of industry, early explorers, and Gold Rush and Victorian era figures; police and fire chiefs; local and state politicians and judges; architects; religious figures; labor leaders; artists, poets, writers, and composers; business owners. View complete list.

Maps and Views

These items, dating 1695 to 2005, include US Coast and Geodetic Survey maps, USGS topographic maps, city engineer’s maps, tourist and street maps, as well as early lithographic representations of the City, and number over 500 items. Map catalog available at reference desk.

Mayoral Papers

James D. Phelan (SFH 217), James Rolph, Jr. (SFH 19), Elmer E. Robinson (SFH 6), George Christopher (SFH 7), John F. Shelley (SFH 10), Joseph L. Alioto (SFH 5), and Art Agnos (SFH 46).

Menus

From Adolph’s to Zuni, these San Francisco and California restaurant menus date from the mid-19th century to the present day. A card catalog indexes by date and restaurant name.

News Clippings

The San Francisco History Center holds the newspaper morgue of the San Francisco Examiner, 1915-2000, as well as newspaper articles clipped by SFPL staff (see Vertical Files, below.)

Postcards

San Francisco and California scenes are represented in approximately 10,000 postcards.

Posters and Broadsides

Over 600 posters cover political, cultural and social events in San Francisco; printed guide available at reference desk.

Sheet Music

San Francisco and California imprints, especially those with local themes, are represented in over 500 scores, the earliest dating from 1847. Card catalog index available (subject and title); early pieces are also represented in WorldCat.

Small Manuscripts (PDF 334KB)

The History Center's Small Manuscript Collection consists of personal papers, business records, and documents. Earliest documents include a letter from Thomas Larkin in Monterey to William Davis, 1845, with reference to the possibility of war with Mexico.

Trade Cards

These 19th century advertising pieces, representing San Francisco and California businesses, are arranged by subject or industry, and some are additionally arranged in scrapbooks.

Vertical Files / Ephemera Collection

Extensive "subject files" include ephemera, news clippings, journal articles and reports. Files represent individuals, associations, bridges, buildings and businesses, city departments, districts, earthquakes, elections, fairs and expositions, parks, transportation, and other subjects; printed guide available at the reference desk. View complete list.