Saturday, June 26, 2010

San Francisco City Directories on SF Genealogy


Some time ago, the Internet Archive digitized a substantial portion of the San Francisco city directories online. In our previous posting, the collection ranged from 1850 to 1953. Since then, even more directories up to 1982 have been scanned and uploaded to the Web. For quick access to a listing of these city directories, follow these steps:

1. Point your browser to SF Genealogy.

2. Select San Francisco County.

3. Select Quicklinks.

4. Select Directories (online).

5. Scroll down the screen to "" to find a chronological listing of San Francisco city directories in digitized format.

Founded and maintained by Pamela Storm and Ron Filion, SF Genealogy strives to provide "free Internet access to genealogical and historical information for San Francisco, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the State of California." Includes birth, death, and marriage records transcribed from historic newspapers.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Following World Cup 2010

Held this time in the country of South Africa, the World Cup football tournament of 2010 will be on the minds of many in the months of June and July. This year SFPL patrons will have a couple of unique options to follow the action.

Particularly exciting for visitors to the Main Library is the prospect of watching the games via large projection screens in the City's Civic Center Plaza. It is likely, depending on how the screens are set up, that one could watch the game from the Library's cubicles facing the Plaza. This could be an important fact to know when planning a work time trip to the library for "research." A schedule of the games shown can be found here.

Another keen way of keeping informed about the tournament is to use the Library's PressDisplay newspaper database to read the current day's newspapers. This database contains the newspapers of 24 of the 32 countries represented so you can see how the folks at home are responding to their team's performance. This is a perfect opportunity to get a really good grasp of how much the world lives (and dies) by its soccer.

Games begin on June 11 with the final match being contested a month later on July 11.

Friday, June 18, 2010

ABCs of Digital Scanning Microfilm

The Magazines and Newspapers Center is presenting an encore demonstration workshop featuring digital scanning techniques for 35MM microfilm and microfiche periodicals. We encourage patrons to attend and participate in the digitization of archival images from the SFPL serials collection!

: 100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
: Main Library, Fifth Floor, Magazines & Newspapers Center, Microfilm Room
-Event Date and Time
: Monday, June 21, 2010 (Noon to 1PM)

Friday, June 11, 2010

American Chinatown: Transformations of an Ethnic Community

Chinatown--a longstanding ethnic enclave that has evolved and expanded throughout various parts of the United States--is the topic of journalist and author Bonnie Tsui's American Chinatown. Tsui's book explores several Chinatowns from the oldest to the newest from San Francisco to Las Vegas, documenting anecdotes and experiences from the perspective of the people. She will also discuss how her travel magazine and newspaper writing led her to the creation of this book.

Presented by the Magazines & Newspapers Center and sponsored by the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library, this author reading and book signing takes place on Thursday, June 17, 2010. Find more information about Bonnie Tsui's book from her Web site (

- Address: 100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
- Location: Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room
- Event Date and Time: Thursday, June 17 (6 - 8 p.m.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Underground Newspapers on Microfilm: Peninsula Observer

"We are firmly committed to printing the truth about events in the Midpeninsula area and elsewhere, no matter how many people howl because we do."

An offspring of "Vietnam Summer" at Stanford University, the PENINSULA OBSERVER first appeared on July 7, 1967 and was co-founded by Barry Greenberg and David Ransom. Originally called the MIDPENINSULA OBSERVER, this underground title drew on prior Free University project publishing efforts and sought meaningful societal change. Avidly read in the Palo Alto and Stanford University environs, the OBSERVER featured some outstanding journalism.

Among other highlights, this newspaper ran an August 12, 1968 piece by Robert Coats and Gina Rivera, revealing valid conflict of interest irregularities against the chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Santa Clara County. David Ransom (Harvard graduate and SDS member) analyzed the war research activities of the Stanford Research Institute and produced a series of articles that resulted in sit-in demonstrations, massive protests, and the eventual severing of ties between the University and the independent Institute.

With anti-Vietnam War efforts as a focal point, the PENINSULA OBSERVER staff (composed of educated community members, graduate students and others) strongly opposed the presence of ROTC on the Stanford campus and sought to clarify and expose the many links between big business, the University, and the Pentagon war machine. Other memorable features included an in-depth critical study of Stanford President Kenneth Ptizer, a special issue on air pollution, and an examination of the Black Panther Party's "United Front Against Fascism" (July 28, 1969). The bi-monthly OBSERVER maintained close ties with the Palo Alto area radical high school movement, and frequently interceded in print for the underserved members of the community. The paper spoke out courageously on environmental, transportation, and urban renewal issues, conducting several very effective investigations of nefarious local construction projects.

A revolving cast of editors included Randy Bonner, Marlene Charyn (ex-Syracuse University), Peter Dolinger, David Shen, Maureen Kulbaitis, and Joanne Wallace. The OBSERVER posted upcoming local events on its "Happenings" page, and regular political editorials ran under "Polemicus." Circulation ran in the range of about 5,000 copies per issue, with the paper relying on patron donations and limited amounts of advertising revenue to cover operating costs. An important and ambitious intellectual watchdog publication, the PENINSULA OBSERVER remains one of the most well-written underground papers of its era; the paper folded quietly in November 1969.Check out the Underground Newspapers collection on microfilm at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library and rediscover the experimental journalism of the 1960s.