Social Sciences

The Social Sciences Collection at the San Francisco Public Library includes extensive circulating and reference book collections; as well as subscriptions to databases, magazines and online journals. The book collections can be found on the third floor in the General Collections and Humanities Center.


Sociology is the scientific study of social and human relationships in society. Sociology developed as a field of study in the 19th century. Some of the thinkers whose names are connected to the creation of sociology include: W.E.B. Dubois, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Harriet Martineau, Karl Marx, August Comte, and Herbert Spencer.

Subjects in the social sciences include:

Databases and Journals

An abundant Social Sciences collection is supplemented by databases, Contemporary Womens Issues - CWI (1992-present), Ethnic NewsWatch (1960-present), GenderWatch (1970-present), EBSCO's LGBT Life full text database, Academic Search Complete (1865-present), and Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.

San Francisco Public Library now has a subscription to Gale's Archives of Sexuality and Gender which provides access to full text manuscripts and documents from 1940-present, including: the “Phyllis Lyon, Del Martin, and the Daughters of Bilitis” (1955-1984) and “Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin: Beyond the Daughters of Bilitis” (1966-1984) document collections. 

The library has a wide range of periodicals in the social sciences subject area,  with a particular strength in Gay and Lesbian Periodicals. These periodicals can be found on the 5th floor.

Of particular interest to the visitor or researcher are the library's reference collections in the affinity centers on the third floor including: