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Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Consists of a collection of 49 photographs made during the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire, which spread rapidly throughout the city on April 18, 1906, causing massive destruction and displacement. There are photographs taken by a number of California-based photographers, including Willard Elmer Worden, Charles C. Pierce, Frederick Arthur Webster, A. Blumberg, Shaw and Shaw, and others.

The photographs depict scenes of collapsed, off-kilter, and partially intact buildings, with one image capturing the "New Post Office" built of stone and still standing, surrounded by the remains of less modern infrastructure. There are also images of warped and cracked streets and roadways showing deep, gaping crevices; a few scenes (primarily by Willard Elmer Worden) showing the city as it burned; and panoramic birds-eye views highlighting the extensive devastation caused by the earthquake and fire. Several photographs in the collection also document the "Tent Cities" that formed at Golden Gate Park to house those who had been displaced. Following the earthquake, photographers rushed to the streets in an effort to document the events, and these photographs quickly became desirable mementos and collectibles for those who lived through them. It is unclear who assembled this collection of photographs, though they may be one such collector. Most photographs are captioned but uncredited.

Purchased from Daniel Oliver Gallery in 2021 (AM 2021-084).

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in June 2021. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in June 2021 based on dealer description.

No materials were separated from the collection during 2021 processing.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Kelly Bolding
Finding Aid Date
Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield Fund.
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Collection Inventory

Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath, 1906. 2 folders.
Physical Description

2 folders

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