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Guide to the General Subjects Photography Collection
PC-GS: Box [number]  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Contents Note
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: General Subjects Photography collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1850s-1980s
    Date (bulk): (Bulk 1870s-1970s)
    Collection number: PC-GS: Box [number]
    Creator: Various
    Extent: 94 boxes, 12 oversize boxes

    (ca. 23,150 images)
    Repository: California Historical Society, North Baker Library
    San Francisco, California 94105-4014
    Abstract: Contains photographs and picture postcards depicting scenes of California places, people, activities, and cultural resources from the 1850s to the 1980s.
    Physical location: Please consult repository.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Research Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    General Subjects Photography collection, PC-GS: Box [number], California Historical Society, Photography Collection.

    Acquisition Information

    Consult repository

    Scope and Contents Note

    Contains photographs and picture postcards depicting scenes of California places, people, activities, and cultural resources, mainly from the 1870s to the 1980s. Each listing represents a file containing from one to more than fifty images. Some files may also include a small number of non-photographic reproductions and prints depicting images from as early as the 1770s.
    Includes images depicting California's agricultural economy (crops, livestock, ranching, etc.), industry (fishing, lumbering, etc.), and mining operations, as well as common plants (cactus, redwoods, etc.) and animals (bear, coyote, etc.). Images of the California missions provide the earliest views in the collection. Other scenes of the California landscape reflect the wide variety of the state's natural features (lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, etc.), and the built environment as evidenced through architecture (commercial, domestic, and public) and transportation (automotive, rail, water, etc.), and depicted in the art of individual artists. Also includes images of people engaged in community and cultural activities as members of organizations (Freemasons, Sierra Club, etc.), or participating in recreation (amusement parks, cycling, dance, swimming, etc.), theater, and social groups (Chinese, Hispanic Americans, Italians, hippies, women, etc.). The largest segment of the collection concerns the work of California photographers (chiefly portraits). These have been divided by the city in which they chiefly worked, and described in further detail as individual catalog records. Images included here compliment those found in the California Counties Photography Collection.


    Organized alphabetically by subject.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Agricultural laborers--California--Pictorial works
    Grape industry--California--Photographs
    Redwoods--Humboldt County--Photographs
    Orchards--California--Pictorial works
    Chinese--California--Pictorial works

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Photographic prints
    Landscape photographs
    Photographic postcards