• A section of the bowsprint and figurehead on the bow of BALCLUTHA.

    San Francisco Maritime

    National Historical Park California

Museum Collections

Lee Shore by W.A. Coulter (SAFR 5332)
Lee Shore by W.A. Coulter (SAFR 5332)
NPS photo

Our nation's maritime history is reflected in the museum collections of San Francisco Maritime NHP. The collections represent the endeavors of people making their living from the sea, from the immigrant seaman to the head of a maritime corporation, from the naval architect to the sailmaker. Letters, documents, photographs, books, charts, maps, plans, parts of large vessels, small craft, fine art, tools, clothing, and personal effects all help to tell the story of America's maritime heritage.

Objects: The museum Object Collections number approximately 35,000 items. They run the gamut from large parts of sailing vessels rescued from an undignified demise, to fine art created for the documentation and admiration of such vessels. There are items from the everyday lives of people making their living at sea, relying on the sea for transportation, and of those who became wealthy from their maritime endeavors. The object collections are a treasure trove of the iconic to the practical, containing tangible links that help bring maritime history to life. Access to the Park's stored museum artifact and stored small craft collection is currently unavailable until fall 2014 as we move these collections to a new facility. If you are in need of research assistance during this time, please contact us. We thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

Archives: The Archival Collections concern the history and achievements of seafaring Americans primarily of the Pacific Coast of North America covering the span of history from the California Gold Rush era to the recent past. They include paper records (such as manuscripts, naval architecture and marine engineering drawings), photographs, film and video, and audio records on tape and digital media. The major subjects encompassed in the archives are oceanic and coastal trade, the San Francisco Bay and river systems, marine harvesting, marine business, labor and shore-based support activities.

Library: The Library Collections consist of over 35,000 book and periodical titles dating from 1536 to the present, 50,000 pieces of ephemera, over 3000 maps and charts covering the Pacific Basin and the West Coast of the United States dating from 1850 to the present, audio, and video materials in multiple formats.

Small Craft: The Park also holds more than one hundred traditional and significant small craft, providing a fine introduction to boatbuilding and maritime trades, in its Small Craft Collections.


Museum Collections highlights by subject:

Did You Know?

Clipper card, SAFR 16981

Clipper cards were small, often colorful cards issued to advertise specific voyages from one port to another, usually from Boston or New York to San Francisco. Their heyday was the late 1850s to early 1860s. More...