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Finding Aid to the San Francisco Police Department Records (1870-1983) SFH 61
SFH 61  
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Collection Overview
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Records of the Board of Police Commissioners; the Office of the Chief of Police and subsidiary bureaus and units, including the Bureau of Identification, the Bureau of Inspectors (aka Detective Bureau), Photographs Bureau, and Patrol Bureau; and scrapbooks whose originating office or bureau is unknown. Many bureaus are not represented in the collection. Formats are mostly oversized record books, scrapbooks, and photographic materials.
The history of the SFPD predates by decades the scope of the surviving archive. According to secondary sources, there was a police force--of sorts--as early as 1849, coinciding with the population explosion from the Gold Rush. In 1856, the same year as the Consolidation of the City and County of San Francisco, the office of City Marshall was replaced by that of Police Chief. The 1850s also saw the introduction of military drill formation, uniforms, and the use of photography for criminal identification.
(165 vols., 8 cartons, 18 manuscript boxes, 30 shoeboxes, 18 flat boxes, 5 flat files) (88.7 linear feet)
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.
The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours, with photographs available during Photo Desk hours. Collections that are stored offsite should be requested 48 hours in advance. Some items are on permanent display at the San Francisco Police Department; some others are currently unavailable due to preservation issues. See notes under individual subseries for details.