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Research Inquiries
Please direct any research inquiries you may have
to the San Francisco History Center at the Main Public Library.
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2016 meeting dates

January 26
February 23
March 29
April 26
May 31
June 28
July 26
August 30
September 27
October 25
November 29
December no meeting

Pacific Visions: Treasure Island, World’s Fair and World War


Tuesday, October 25

guest speaker: Ann Schnoebelen

The Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE) of 1939–1940 was San Francisco’s last world’s fair and last grand public celebration prior to America’s entry into World War II. This “Pageant of the Pacific” inspired fantastic flights of the imagination from the fair’s artists, architects, and wordsmiths. But behind the fair’s romantic imagery of commerce, travel, and cultural exchange between America and the countries of the Pacific was the shadow of America’s race with Japan to conquer the Pacific. Anne Schnoebelen’s presentation will focus on the fair’s Pacific theme and the impact of the coming war. We will also explore the fun and beauty of the fair, as well as its “splendid survivors” on Treasure Island and around the Bay Area.

Anne Schnoebelen has worked for 25 years to preserve the legacy of the GGIE on Treasure Island. Through lectures, publications, tours, social media, and as a board member and advocate for the Treasure Island Museum, her efforts have helped to preserve the works of art remaining on the island from the GGIE and to cultivate public interest in the legacy of the fair.


Visit the meetings page for more details.


DONATE to the SFHA campaign for a 1906 Earthquake Memorial


As incredible as it may sound, San Francisco has no designated memorial for the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. While many consider Market Street’s Lotta’s Fountain, Golden Gate Park’s Portals of the Past, and the golden fire hydrant at the corner of 20th and Church Streets to be memorials, none of them have ever been designated as such, and none tell the story of the defining event in San Francisco’s history.

Chronicle Building postcard 1901 by Detroit Photographic Co./WikipediaSeeking to rectify this oversight, the San Francisco History Association has announced the launch of a fundraising campaign to place a plaque on the de Young Building at the corner of Market and Geary Streets to serve as the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 Memorial. The owners of the de Young Building have granted permission for the placement of the plaque.

The History Association has chosen this location because of its proximity to Lotta’s Fountain, the site of the annual commemoration of the earthquake and fire, as well as the building’s distinction of having survived the conflagration. 

The bronze plaque, which will measure 74” wide and 48” tall, will be placed on the Geary Street side of the building, and will be clearly visible from Lotta’s Fountain. To explain the history of the disaster to residents and visitors, it will feature a map of the burn area, the story of the disaster, and some history of the de Young Building. 

The San Francisco History Association aims to unveil the plaque on April 18, 2017, the 111th anniversary of the disaster. In order to accomplish this goal, the Association is launching a fundraising campaign via generosity.com to raise the $20,000 necessary for the plaque’s fabrication and installation.


Please make a donation today! 



Mockup of the proposed plaque site. Photo by Joseph Amster.

All donations are tax-deductible and will include a special thanks on the History Association’s website. Other perks will also be offered to donors, depending on the level of their donation. SFHA will also solicit grants from local businesses and organizations. 

Contact: Joseph Amster joseph@sanfranciscohistory.org


San Francisco's Moving History


Tuesday, November 29

guest speaker: Diane Donovan

The history of moving buildings in San Francisco is rich, stretching from Gold Rush times to modern times, and is second only to that of Chicago. Three years ago, an amazing image of horses moving a Victorian building caught Diane Donovan’s eye and led her to recall her childhood landlord’s stories. As an online editor and researcher, Diane’s skills were already in place to take a closer look – and the more she researched, the more of this rich history was exposed. Her book, San Francisco Relocated, is an introduction to a topic holding many more rich, moving stories than could be covered in one book.

In her presentation, Diane describes some of the house moves featured in her book and adds further details. Photos help illustrate the changing mechanics of these building moves from the 1850s to modern times, the motivations of movers and homeowners to relocate their structures, and the changing world that finally ended a lively, profitable business in the city.

Visit the meetings page for more details.


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