Popularity Contest: Most Requested and Researched Archival Collections in 2017

Librarians and archivists like data. There's something gratifying about closing out the year with statistics that document our work in providing access to archival collections - and the history of San Francisco. In the San Francisco History Center, we gather data on which collections are used the most. This assists the archivists with decision-making on which collection to process next, handling space issues, what to digitize...and running an annual contest on which collections were the most popular in 2017! Below are the top seven archival collections most requested in 2017 from the San Francisco History Center and the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

San Francisco History Center's top 7 requested archival collections in 2017 --

  1. San Francisco Police Department Records: Crime clipping scrapbooks, permits and licenses,
    3rd & Howard Streets, August 12, 1948
    San Francisco Police Department Records
    Captain's orders and mug books are some of the more requested items from the records. Building researchers delve into the records based on the 12,000+ acetate negatives from the Bureau of Accident Prevention. With the focal point of each shot being the automobile accident, the majority of the shots include businesses and residences in the background. Back when the processing archivist was busy creating access to the 88.7 linear feet of these records, here on the blog we gave you teasers into the records.
  2. Junior League of San Francisco Here Today Files: In the 1960s, the Junior League surveyed and researched thousands of San Francisco’s historic buildings built before 1920, many of them featured in the book, Here Today: San Francisco Architectural Heritage. If a building was surveyed, the research file notes when it was built, and perhaps, the original owner and architect.
  3. San Francisco Unified School District Records: Want to know the history of a San Francisco public school? Here's your starting point. While there are materials from the early years of the district, the bulk of the collection is from 1874 to 1978. Major areas include administrative documents, curriculum titles, reports produced by the school district, and newspaper clippings. Materials include administrative circulars, photographs, scrapbooks, books, pamphlets, newsletters, district directories, handbooks, budget documents, salary surveys and schedules, maps, and newspaper articles. 
  4. San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Records: The records are partially processed and the
    Yerba Buena Center Project, 1977
    San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Records
    projects open for research include Diamond Heights Project Area B-1; Embarcadero-Lower Market Project Area E-1 (Golden Gateway); Western Addition Project Areas A-1 and A-2; and Yerba Buena Center Project Area D-1. If you have a Redevelopment project you're researching, please contact the San Francisco History Center to arrange access to the unprocessed records.
  5. San Francisco General Hospital AIDS Ward 5B/5A Archives: In 1983, this was the first dedicated AIDS hospital ward in the United States. The collection includes scrapbooks, communication books, head nurses' files, correspondence, videotapes, publications, and memorabilia collected by the nursing staff of AIDS Ward 5B/5A at San Francisco General Hospital.
  6. San Francisco Assessor's Office Homestead Maps: Six volumes of assorted plat, survey, cadastral, parcel, real estate, and other maps showing land ownership, boundaries, subdivisions, blocks, streets, lots, tracts, and other legal and/or physical features, filed with the San Francisco City and County Recorder.
  7. John F. "Jack" Shelley Papers: The collection documents the one-term administration of San Francisco Mayor John F. ("Jack") Shelley during the years 1964-1968. Shelley became mayor of his beloved San Francisco in 1964 with a 12 percent margin over then-Supervisor Harold S. Dobbs, and the support of labor unions and the Democrats. He was the first Democratic mayor in 50 years. During Shelley's tenure, San Francisco's problems included poverty, racial discrimination, aging housing and physical plant, changes in the city's economic structure including the loss of blue-collar jobs, and a shrinking middle-class with many whites moving to the suburbs. 

San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection's top 7 requested archival collections in 2017 --

  1. San Francisco Assessor's Office Negative Collection: Over 75,000 San Francisco properties
    173-175 Third Street. July 10, 1958
    San Francisco Assessor's Office Negative Collection
    photographed, this is step #1 when searching for a photo of a building
  2. San Francisco News-Call Bulletin Photo Morgue: With over 1 million photographs in 1,200 cartons, this collection receives the most requests. We put a spotlight on the collection during our 50th anniversary. If you like 20th century celebrities, athletes as well as political, social and cultural leaders, make a request!  
  3. Robert Durden Color Slide Collection: After one has searched the online database and the Assessor's Office Negative Collection, the next step in building researsh is this color slide collection. The collection consists of over 65,000 color slides documenting San Francisco buildings, events and locations between 1950 and early 1990s, with the bulk from the 1980s-1990s.  
  4. San Francisco Department of Public Works Photograph Collection: This collection of photographs and glass plate negatives documents the projects of DPW's Bureau of Engineering. The first photograph album begins with 1907 and is an amazing way to see the reconstruction of San Francisco after the Earthquake and Fire of 1906. That's your teaser to come in and explore the 95 albums that go to the early 1940s! But until then, here are some of the glass plate negatives (and a few photographic prints) we digitized.
  5. San Francisco History Center Postcard Collection: This collection consists of approximately 5,000 photo-mechanical postcards and photo-postcards of San Francisco views, hotels, restaurants, streets and other popular locations. 
  6. Marilyn Blaisdell Photograph Collection: With over 700 photographers and photo studios represented, this compilation is one of the greatest private collections of historical San Francisco photographs. 
  7. Dennis L. Maness Summer of Love Collection: 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. There was a lot of love for this photo collection! 
California Street from Montgomery Street, c. 1875
Photograph by Carleton E. Watkins in the Marilyn Blaisdell Photograph Collection