Questions, Copying, and Requesting Materials


For reference questions or other information, you can reach us by:

San Francisco History Center
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102

San Francisco History Center staff can answer reference questions, but more in-depth research may be beyond the scope of our services. The staff may be able to locate researchers for hire for patrons. If you are writing from outside of California, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your letter.


San Francisco History Center provides photocopies, photographic reproductions, and reference quality scans for a fee. Prepayment is required for all copy and scan orders. We accept cash or checks only; no credit cards, please.

Photocopy/Scan Request forms are available online and at the Reference desk. Special restrictions may apply to many of our materials, including newspapers, manuscripts, fragile items, and oversize volumes. Reproduction from any of our materials is at the discretion of the librarian. Photocopy and scan requests are limited to 50 copies per day. Library users may pick up photocopied materials or arrange to have them mailed for an additional fee.

  • B&W photocopy / 10¢ per page 
  • Color photocopy / 40¢ per page 
  • PDF scan / 10¢ per page
  • Fee for mailing / $1.00

Patrons may bring a digital camera to photograph most materials and must complete a Photocopy/Scan Request form when photographing from textual collections.

Reproductions of our photographic collections follow a different set of guidelines which can be found here.

Requesting Off-Site Materials

Most materials can be retrieved on the same day. However, some materials, particularly larger archival collections, are stored off-site and require 48-hours advance notice. Our off-site location is listed in the online catalog as: MAIN-6th Floor-SF History/Brooks.

Requests must include:

  1. Collection name
  2. Call number or Collection number
  3. Box numbers and Item numbers from finding aid—please limit to 6 boxes at a time.
  4. Name, phone number, and email of requester
  5. Anticipated date of visit to the archives

Please email your request to:

You will be contacted when your request has been filled and materials are available for you to view. Items will be returned 1 week after your planned date(s) of visit if they are not viewed.