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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

SFHA Fundraising Campaign for 1906 Earthquake Memorial

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

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./Wikipedia
Seeking 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! 



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


How to Research Your San Francisco Home—for FREE


Tuesday, August 30

guest speakers: John Blackburn and Vicky Walker

Want to know the history of your home or street, even if you don’t live in a particularly old building or historic S.F. neighborhood? Wondering who lived there before you did, and where they came from? Vicky Walker and John Blackburn of the Bernal History Project present an illustrated guide to researching a San Francisco building using free and online sources. This is an interactive presentation, so feel free to come with stories and photos of your own home.

Vicky Walker and John Blackburn represent the Bernal History Project, a local volunteer group that aims to record and share the history of San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. Vicky is an SFHA board member and also its research gift coordinator; John is a retired private investigator and earthquake refugee shack historian.

Visit the meetings page for more details.

Lighthouses of the Bay Area


Tuesday, September 27

guest speaker: Betty S. Veronico

The first lighthouse built on the West Coast was located on Alcatraz Island in the center of the Bay. It was put into service in July 1853 equipped with the latest technology for the time: a Fresnel lens, manufactured and shipped from France. In later years, the Bay Area was home to as many as 19 lighthouses, 6 on the approach to the bay and 13 within it. Lightships were stationed outside the Golden Gate, tasked with directing ships safely into the bay. Author Betty S. Veronico will discuss the light stations and light ships closest to San Francisco. Betty is the author or co-author of five local history books, including Lighthouses of the Bay Area. (Her books will be available for purchase.) She is currently gathering material for a forthcoming book on light ships.

Visit the meetings page for more details.


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Donate to the San Francisco History Association's Research Gift Program