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Local Research (SF & Oakland)

A guide to researching local history, architecture, and urban spaces.

Local Research Guide

Welcome to the CCA Libraries guide to researching San Francisco, Oakland, and the Bay Area. You will find information on books and journals in our library as well as links to resources for studying local history, architecture, and urban spaces.

8th, Hooper and Irwin Streets in 1938 and 2015, courtesy SF Planning's San Francisco 1938 and 2015.

Historic Photos

Historic Images

San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection

The San Francisco Public Library has the largest collection of historic San Francisco photographs, 40,000 of which have been digitized and made accessible on the library's website. In addition, the independent website OldSF developed a tool for searching the SFPL's historic image collection across a map of modern San Francisco.


The Western Neighborhoods Project recently launched OpenSFHistory, digitized images owned by an anonymous private collector. The images can be browsed by thematic collections, by neighborhoods, or by using a map overlay.

Oakland History Room's Digitized Image Collection

The Online Archive of California hosts the Oakland Public Library's collection of history Oakland photographs. More historic photographs are available in person in the OPL's Oakland History Room.

Digital Archives

California Digital Newspaper Collection (CDNC)

The CDNC contains scanned and searchable historic newspapers from around the state of California, including the San Francisco Call (1890-1913), the Pacific Appeal (1862-1880), and the Daily Alta California (1849-1891). Search across the archive, by newspaper, or by time period.

Digitized Book Collections

Search the full-text of the millions of books, magazines, and historic documents included in HathiTrust or in the Google Books project. Books in the public domain can be read online or downloaded. Books under copyright restrictions will be limited to snippet views.

Online Archive of California & Calisphere

The OAC and Calisphere are both projects of the UC's California Digital Library, or CDL. The OAC collects the records, digital images, and documents of over 200 contributing museums, libraries, and archives, including all ten campuses of the University of California. Calisphere focuses on those institution's digital collections, including images, texts, and recordings.

David Rumsey Map Collection

The David Rumsey Map Collection is a publicly accessible digital archive of one of the world's largest private map collections, with over 65,000 maps and images online. Many of the historic maps can be displayed side-by-side with modern digital maps through the Georeferencer tool (example).

Internet Archive

San Francisco's Internet Archive is a digital library containing books, magazines, archived websites, videos, games and more. The Internet Archive has many special collections related to San Francisco and Bay Area history.

Statistical Data Sources

SF Open Data

Statistical information and data published by the City and County of San Francisco can be browsed and searched using this platform.