This site provides access to digital images of the museum and archival collections at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
The museum and archival collections represent the lives of the men and women who built and sailed vessels along the Pacific Coast of North America as well as those who worked in maritime related industries or relied on the maritime community for their transportation needs.
Among the museum collection consists of artifacts dating from San Francisco's gold rush days to more recent items from the twentieth century including fine art, tools and equipment used in maritime endeavors, personal effects of sailors and passengers, and parts of historic vessels.
The archival 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 major ports loading cargo as well as the arrivals and departures of ships. They photographed and filmed everything from transpacific crossings to yacht racing. The historic documents, estimated at over 5,000 linear feet, consist of collections ranging in size from a single item, such as a personal letter or diary, to dozens of boxes of business records or personal papers. The naval architecture and marine engineering drawings consist of plans created by naval architects, engineers, and shipbuilders. The Park holds an estimated 120,000 sheets of drawings dealing almost entirely with West Coast built vessels, shipyards and facilities.
Through preservation and interpretation of historic ships, extensive museum collections, traditional maritime skills, and its San Francisco Bay setting, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park brings America’s maritime legacy to life and promotes the understanding and enjoyment of the nation’s West Coast maritime heritage. (2016-2021 Strategic Plan)
The Maritime Research Center is the gateway to research on San Francisco and Pacific Coast maritime history at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park for the staff and public alike. Originating in 1939, the collections have become the largest maritime collection on the West Coast and the largest museum and research collection in the National Park Service. Our unique resources serve and inform historians, preservationists, curators, genealogists, artists, authors, students, filmmakers, sailors, boat and model builders around the world.