Finding Aid to the Edwin M. (Mah) Lee Papers, 2011-2019, SFH 695

Finding aid written by Tami J. Suzuki.
San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
June 15, 2024

Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
Title: Edwin M. (Mah) Lee papers,
Date (inclusive): 2011-2019,
Collection Identifier: SFH 695
Creator: Lee, Edwin M., 1952-2017.
Physical Description: 18 boxes (16.62 cubic feet)
Abstract: Correspondence from government officials, photographs with dignitaries, and speech for 2012 inauguration. Preservation copies of press conference videos.
Physical Location: The collection is stored off site.
Language of Material: English.


The collection (Series 1) is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours. A minimum of two working days' notice is required for use. Please call the San Francisco History Center for hours and information at (415) 557-4567. The videos in Series II are available at; see

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Any use beyond scholarly research will be forwarded to Martha Campbell for review. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Edwin M. (Mah) Lee papers (SFH 695), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


Papers received from San Francisco Mayor's Office of Protocol in 2018. Booklet of summary of accomplishments received in 2019. Videos received from San Francisco Government TV in 2018.

Biographical Statement

Edwin Mah Lee was born to Chinese immigrant parents on May 5, 1952, in Seattle, Washington. His father died when Lee was 15. His mother was a seamstress and waitress who raised six children. Lee graduated from Bowdoin College and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and went on to work as managing attorney for the Asian Law Caucus, a civil rights organization, in San Francisco.
Lee's service to the City and County of San Francisco began in 1989 as the first investigator for the city's whistleblower ordinance. Beginning in 1991, he was executive director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. He then became director of city purchasing, then director of the Department of Public Works in 2000. In 2005 he became the City Administrator. Upon then-Mayor Gavin Newsom's election as the state Lieutenant Governor, Lee was confirmed by the Board of Supervisors to fill Newsom's vacancy in January of 2011, becoming the city's 43rd mayor. He was elected to the office later that year, and re-elected in 2015.
Lee served as the city's first Asian American mayor. Notably, his administration gave tax breaks to major firms to stay in the city. He opposed President Donald Trump's executive order to identify and deport undocumented immigrants; the sanctuary city prevailed when a US district court blocked the order. Lee piloted the city's Navigation Centers beginning in 2015, allowing homeless people an alternative to the traditional shelter model. He created the largest affordable housing fund in San Francisco history, with thousands of new units under construction during his helm.
Lee died of a heart attack while in office on Dec. 12, 2022. He was survived by his wife and two daughters. He is remembered for the serious focus he brought to his work, the lighthearted nature he brought to the room, and the open-mindedness to tackle problems with new approaches.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence from government officials, photographs with dignitaries, and speech for 2012 inauguration. Preservation copies of press conference videos. Press conferences are vailable online at


Organized into two series: Series 1. Office Of Protocol; and Series 2. Press Conference Videos.

Processing Information

Processed by Tami J. Suzuki in 2022.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Mayors -- California -- San Francisco.
San Francisco (Calif.) -- Politics and government -- 21st century.
Urban policy--California--San Francisco.
Lee, Edwin M., 1952-2017 -- Archives


Series 1 Office of Protocol, 2011-2015

Physical Description: .62 cubic feet

Scope and Contents

Contains thank you letters from constituents, some publications with Mayor Lee pictured, a restrospective booklet published by the City Administrator's office, and photographs with dignitaries including then-President Barack Obama and former President William Clinton. Also includes inauguration speech of Jan. 8, 2012.


Organized alphabetically.
Box 1, folder 1-10

Correspondence from Constituents, 2011-2015

Box 1, folder 11

Housing Authority Recommendations (from City Administrator), [2014?]

Box 1, folder 12

Inauguration Speech, [Jan. 8, 2012]

box 2, Folder 1

Mayor Lee & the City He Loved, A Summary of Accomplishments, 2011-2017, 2019

Box 2, folders 2-3

Media Clips

Box 2, folders 4-5

Photographs with Dignitaries


Series 2 Press Conference Videos, 2011-2017

Edwin M. Lee Mayoral Press Conferences

Physical Description: 16 cubic feet

Scope and Contents

Contains DVDs of the mayor's press conferences, also known as Press Availabilities. The press conference videos are available online at the San Francisco Government TV website:


These videos are master copies for preservation purposes only, not for public use. Instead, patrons should use the videos available through
Boxes 3-5


Boxes 6-8


Boxes 9-10


Boxes 11-12


Boxes 13-14


Boxes 15-16


Boxes 17-18