Skip to main content

General Subjects Photography collection,

Identifier: PC-GS: Box [number]
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.


  • 1850s-1980s
  • Majority of material found in (Bulk 1870s-1970s)

Language of Materials


Physical Description



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.


94 boxes, 12 oversize boxes (ca. 23,150 images)


Contains photographs and picture postcards depicting scenes of California places, people, activities, and cultural resources from the 1850s to the 1980s.


Organized alphabetically by subject.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Acquisition Information

Consult repository

Physical Description



Contact Information:

  1. California Historical Society
  2. North Baker Research Library
  3. 678 Mission Street
  4. San Francisco, California 94105-4014
  5. Phone: (415) 357-1848, ext. 20
  6. Fax: (415) 357-1850
  7. Email:
  8. URL:
Processed by:
Trina Lopez, Wendy Welker, Brenda Baldwin, and Mary Morganti
Date Completed:
September 2003
Encoded by:
Guide to the General Subjects Photography Collection
Processed by Trina Lopez, Wendy Welker, Brenda Baldwin, and Mary Morganti.
© 2004
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • March 23, 2004: PUBLIC "-//California Historical Society::North Baker Research Library//TEXT (US::CHi::PC-GS: Box [number]::General Subjects Photography collection)//EN" "gensub.sgm" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.cdl.xsl (2004-09-16).

Repository Details

Part of the California Historical Society Repository

678 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94105