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

    San Francisco Maritime

    National Historical Park California

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  • Hyde Street Pier Closed Mondays through Thursdays (July 24 - August 20)

    For public safety, Hyde Street Pier will be closed mid-pier Mondays - Thursdays from July 24 - August 20 during replacement of Eureka's mooring piles. There is no access to the historic ships. The visitor center, Maritime Museum & Aquatic Park are open. More »

Photographs, Film and Video

Balclutha as Alaska Packers Association ship Star of Alaska, circa 1920 photographed by Gabriel Moulin. (P80-084.1nl)
Balclutha as Alaska Packers Association ship Star of Alaska, circa 1920 photographed by Gabriel Moulin. (P80-084.1nl)
SAFR collection no. P80-084.1nl
 

The collection holds hundreds of thousands of photographs, film footage and hundreds of hours of video. You will find pictures of sailors taking a sighting or going aloft. Ordinary sailors and captains snapped pictures of everything from cod boats fishing to whaling in the Pacific. You can see shipboard families with babies, cats and dogs. Professional photographers and filmmakers captured the daily hustle and bustle of a major American port with the moving cargo or arrivals and departures of ships. They photographed and filmed everything from transpacific crossings to yacht racing.

How may I access and use the collection? Access to the collection is available by appointment only; please see our Collections FAQ for more information.

 
This quarter plate daguerreotype is of the riverboat Erastus Corning with the owner Charles Minturn standing in the foreground, San Francisco, Calif., circa October 1850. The photograph is attributed to the daguerreotypist Frederick Combs. (P81-010.1cps)

This quarter plate daguerreotype is of the riverboat Erastus Corning with the owner Charles Minturn standing in the foreground, San Francisco, Calif., circa October 1850. The photograph is attributed to the daguerreotypist Frederick Combs. (P81-010.1cps)

SAFR collection no.P81-010.1cps

Photographs:

[Research guide available: Finding Photographs in the Historic Document Collections (Adobe Acrobat .pdf file, 815 Kb)]

The photograph collection is one of the richest resources of the park's archival holdings and supports many uses within the park as well as for the outside researcher. Both professional photographers and maritime enthusiasts captured images illustrating all aspects of maritime life. The collection is comprised of approximately 300,000 still images and over 78,000 original negatives. In addition to caring for its own collection, the park has been designated as the Pacific West Region Nitrate Film Repository, caring for over one thousand photographs from other regional parks.

 
Cyanotype print of the USS Oregon launching ceremony, 26 October 1893. (P79-072.23p)

Cyanotype print of the USS Oregon launching ceremony, 26 October 1893. (P79-072.23p)

SAFR collection no.P79-072.23p

The photograph collection has everything from 19th century mammoth plate albumen prints to small snapshots. A major part of the collection is original negatives including cumbersome glass plate, flammable nitrate film or modern instamatic film negatives. Many are compiled into photograph albums.

 
C.A. Thayer (built 1895; schooner, 3m) deck view in heavy weather, 1957. Photographed by Karl Kortum (K9.38,806n) and tugboat Sea Prince and freighter Great Republic en route to Howards Terminal, Oakland, Calif., circa 1950 photographed by Matt Southard and (P81-053.147n).
C.A. Thayer (built 1895; schooner, 3m) deck view in heavy weather, 1957. Photographed by Karl Kortum (K9.38,806n) and tugboat Sea Prince and freighter Great Republic en route to Howards Terminal, Oakland, Calif., circa 1950 photographed by Matt Southard and (P81-053.147n).
SAFR collection nos.K9.38,806n and P81-053.147n
 

Notable photographic collections include:

  • Robert Dollar Company Photographs, 1858-1960 (SAFR 17919, P77-007) for transpacific passenger and liner trade
  • Wilhelm Hester Photographs, 1893-1905 (SAFR 17804, P84-011) for crew portraits of the coastal and commercial sailing ships in Puget Sound
  • David W. Dickie Photographs, 1885-1945 (SAFR 14408, P78-449a) for ships under construction and repair
  • Moore Dry Dock Company Photograph Albums, 1914-1951 (SAFR 15212, P79-071a) shows vessel launchings, shipyard work, vessel construction and repair
  • Bethlehem Steel Corporation Shipbuilding Division Photographs, 1920-1979 (SAFR 17161, P82-125a; SAFR 17202, P83-142a)
  • Axel Widerstrom Photographs (SAFR 19189, P78-248a) for voyages on his father's Alaska Packers' ship for the salmon fisheries
  • Morton-Waters Company Photographs, 1860-1930 (SAFR 18131, P79-195) for views of work boats, yachts, steamers and sailing ships of San Francisco
  • John W. Proctor, 1900-1937 (SAFR 19486, P78-442a) photographs and albums of the city waterfront and ships
  • Walter A. Scott Photographs (SAFR 19479, P78-436a; SAFR 14394, P85-042) for yachting on San Francisco Bay
  • Harry Dring Photographs, 1870-1983 (SAFR 9318, P91-015)
 

Film and video:

You will find anything from professional commercial films to family home movies on 35mm, 16mm, 8mm and super 8mm film in color or black-and-white with sound or silt. Filmmakers and families captured major operations of shipping lines to amateur hydroplane racing int he Sacramento Delta. All tell a story in motion of the changes to shipping and sailing on the Bay and Pacific Coast.

Notable film and video collections include:

  • Alfred T. Palmer Motion Picture Films (SAFR 18024, P88-086) with over 150,000 feet documenting the major west coast shipping lines such as American President Lines and Matson
  • Burton Doolittle Motion Picture of Vigilant (Schooner, 5m), 1936 (SAFR 8096, P91-007) shot on board the 5-masted schooner Vigilant's 1936 Seattle to Hawaii voyage
  • Munsen Family Photographs and Motion Pictures (SAFR 18589, P89-091) 8mm films of a California family's post-war amateur hydroplane boat races
  • Scott Newhall Motion Picture, undated (SAFR 19493, P78-451) Eppleton Hall paddle wheel tug
  • Dollar Family Motion Picture Film and Color Transparencies, 1937 (SAFR 20939, P06-017) 8mm film of the Robert Stanley Dollar family
  • American President Lines Photographs, Motion Pictures, and Video recordings, 1930-1980 (SAFR 21375, P96-007) commercial, promotional and training films
  • Captain Ottmar Friz Motion Picture Films (SAFR 22071, P97-001) 16mm film of the steamers on which the Captain served
  • The Men Who Sailed the Liberty Ships (SAFR 21661, P97-008) videotape interviews of World War II merchant mariners conducted by filmmaker Maria Brooks; three interviews can be heard in the Smithsonian Museum of American History's exhibit On the Water.

Did You Know?

A large, ship-shaped building with a red tile roof.

The Aquatic Park Bathhouse building, a Depression-era, Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, was completed in 1939. The art deco building includes tile mosaics of fish, marble floors that resemble a sea chart, and interior walls painted with murals depicting strange creatures of the deep. More...