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San Francisco State University
The University Archives serves as the collective memory of San Francisco State University containing unique and original source material of our University's colorful history.
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Archival Mandate

On September 24, 1954, The President's Cabinet approved a document called "College Archives" that listed the recommendations of a Committee established to investigate potential options for the disposition of records generated by San Francisco State College, which stated the following:

(a) It suggested that the college library center its attention on the collection and preservation of significant historical records and on making current records of widespread interest conveniently available.

(b) The centralizing of records that have only historical significance would add to their value by making them accessible and by presenting them as a related whole.

The "College Archives" document establishes the current University Archive in the J. Paul Leonard Library's department known as the University Archives in the Archives/Special Collections Department now located in the Special Collections Unit (Libarary 460). Although the Department's collecting of paper documents has diminished with online archiving of materials throughout the University, its mandate to maintain and promote access to SFSU history-related materials continues.


Definitions: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

To learn more about primary and secondary resources, please consult LibGuides by Kendra Van Cleave entitled, "History; Primary Sources" and "History: Secondary Sources." The University Archives has a rich array of original and interpreted resources to learn more about campus history and life. This guide serves as an introduction but not comprehensive finding aid for our collections that continue to evolve with the University.

A PRIMARY SOURCE is generally defined as some kind of original material or data. Depending on your research topic and perspective, primary sources can include diaries and letters, interviews, speeches, business or organizational records, eyewitness accounts, photographs, video or film, government documents, newspapers or magazines, or even books.

A SECONDARY SOURCE is generally defined as something that analyzes, interprets, or comments on a primary source. In history, the key secondary sources that you need to find are research books and research journal articles.


Campus Resources available in this Library

Bulletin - San Francisco State College
Call Number: LD729.C975 a56x
The San Francisco State Bulletins include course descriptions and important information for students. The University Archives has archival copies of the Bulletins and a set of Bulletins dating back to 1970 are located on the third floor adjacent to the reference assistance desk. After 2010, the University stopped producing paper catalogs. However, this information is available through the University's website at http// that are searchable by semester and subject. The Bulletins are also available online from 1994 to the present, organized by year, at http//

Franciscan - Associated Students
Call Number: LD729.6 S35 F73x
The student yearbooks were published by the student body under a variety of names and chronicle student life from the late 1920s until the 1990s when they ceased publication. The Archives has issues for 1926-1964, 1975-1978, 1982-1982, 1985, 1989, and 1993.

Golden Gater - SFSU Journalism Department
Today published as "Golden Gate Xpress," San Francisco State's student newspapers dating from the late 1920s offer the daily experiences and issues on campus.

Academic Senate Meeting - Academic Senate
The Academic Senate develops policies and procedures related to faculty, curriculum, academic standards, campus development, etc. Surveying Academic Senate minutes and agendas is an important way to discover the issues and politics of this campus community. The University Archives has minutes and agenda dating back to 1951 when the the Senate was first established and our run ends in 2006. The Academic Senate has archived minutes and agendas dating back to fall 1996 at their website.

CampusMemo - University Communications
Publication Date: 1970-present
CampusMemo includes current campus-related events and and announcements. The University Archives has issues dating back to 1970 and it is available online starting in 2001


Campus Secondary Resources available in this Library

SFSU Magazine/SF State Magazine - University Communications
Publication Date: 2000 to present
University Communications publishes this award-winning magazine that chronicles the landmark accomplishments of San Francisco State faculty and alumni. The University Archives has issues dating back to 2000, and issues archived online go back to 2003.


Campus History

Cover Art
San Francisco State University
ISBN: 0738555665
This pictorial history of San Francisco State University chronicles our story back to 1899 when we were established as a normal school or vocational school for teachers utilizing photographs (primary sources) from the University Archives to convey the University's pragmatic approach to education. Many images were selected from the student yearbooks to emphasize how student engagement has shaped our history.

Cover Art
The Biography of San Francisco State University - Arthur Chandler
Call Number: LD729.6 S35 C53 1986x
ISBN: 0938530348
Publication Date: 1986-10-01
This pictorial dedicated to the Holloway Historians (an ad hoc group that did campus oral histories) by one of its co-founders carries San Francisco State's history back teacher training in late-Gold Rush San Francisco, linking the University history with educational movements in the City. Includes a "San Francisco State University Historical Timeline" dating from 1855 to 1983, endnotes, and bibliography.


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