Internet Archive Awarded Grant Money to Digitize San Francisco Public Library’s San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Records (1947 –2009)


On April 17, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced new grant awards, with $345,960 going to the Internet Archive’s Community Webs program to digitize nine local history collections from seven community partners across the United States, including San Francisco Public Library. The project, titled “Increasing Access to Diverse Public Library Local History Collections,” focuses on communities that are underrepresented in historical records and will result in 411,000 digital files accessible online to any user.  

The local history manuscripts, photographs and municipal records in these collections include a diverse range of content that show the day-to-day life of Communities of Color throughout the United States. San Francisco Public Library will digitize the 22 linear feet of the photographs in the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Records (1947 –2009), a collection on the redevelopment of the Western Addition, Hunter’s Point and Yerba Buena neighborhoods. The redevelopment of these San Francisco neighborhoods displaced predominantly African American, Japanese, Filipino and working-class residents. Frequently used by researchers, the collection shows the impact of redevelopment on these communities and once digitized by Internet Archive, people from across the United States can access and learn about this important history.  

“The San Francisco History Center is excited to be the recipient of this grant award,” says Christina Moretta, Photo Curator at San Francisco Public Library. “The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Records are annually in our top 10 most frequently requested archives. Researchers near and far will appreciate the online open access to visuals documenting the historic legacy of neighborhoods that have changed due to urban redevelopment. By increasing the visibility of this collection, San Franciscans will have a more accessible view into the diversity of our history.”

The “Increasing Access to Diverse Public Library Local History Collections” project expands Internet Archive’s work to increase the diversity of voices represented in accessible historical records. The digitization of the nine collections will create a deeper understanding of how systems of power can regulate or even erase marginalized communities. Other library partners for the projects include Athens-Clarke County Library, Belen Public Library, District of Columbia Public Library, Evanston History Center, Jersey City Free Public Library and William B. Harlan Memorial Library. The digitization of the collections from these libraries will take place at Internet Archive’s office located in the Richmond District in San Francisco. 

“We are so excited by this opportunity to continue to partner with Community Webs members to preserve local history collections,” says Sarah Beth Seymore, Program Officer at Internet Archive and project manager of the grant. “These collaborations are so successful because of the passionate partners and the unique collections they steward! With an eye toward future community capacity building, this project will inspire other public libraries and archives to leverage Community Webs for the benefits of digitization capacity and expertise, access infrastructure, and programmatic strengths to better preserve and promote local history collections!”

Once completed, the digitized collection will be available freely across platforms including, DPLA and All archives at San Francisco Public Library are available to the public during open hours at the SF History Center in the Main Library. Patrons are welcome to visit to learn more about the city's rich and diverse history. Learn more about the SF History Center: 

About Community Webs

 Community Webs, a program of Archive-It and the Internet Archive, was launched in 2017. Its mission is to advance the capacity for public libraries and other cultural heritage organizations to build archives of web-published primary sources documenting local history and underrepresented voices. The program achieves this mission by providing resources for professional training, technology services, networking, and in support of scholarly research use.

 n Francisco Public Library 

San Francisco Public Library is dedicated to free and equal access to information, knowledge, independent learning and the joys of reading for our diverse community. The library system is made up of 27 neighborhood branches, the San Francisco Main Library and four bookmobiles. 





May 20, 2024