Labor Archives and Research Center
Few regions can rival the rich, lively labor history of the San Francisco Bay Area. This history is preserved in primary source and vintage history materials at the Labor Archives and Research Center (LARC).Founded in 1985 by trade union leaders, historians, labor activists and university administrators, the Labor Archives is a unit of the J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University. The Labor Archives has an Advisory Board drawn from the labor, academic and community leaders of the Bay Area.
By appointment / 2 days in advance
Check hours for exceptions
Exhibits & Events
The Labor Archives collection includes materials from the counties surrounding San Francisco Bay, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. More than 6,000 feet of primary source material is available for research. From the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, a wide scope of Bay Area labor activity is represented. Many unions have made the Labor Archives the official repository for their historical records -- minutes, office correspondence, membership files, publications and contracts. Labor leaders, attorneys, arbitrators, and rank-and-file workers have donated their personal papers. Personal memorabilia, photographs, ephemera, and oral histories document the lives and stories of working men and women. Visual material, in addition to photographs, includes cartoons, banners, posters, prints, handbills, picket signs, and buttons.
Search Online Archive of California
List of Collections at this site (PDF). Printed copy also available.
Some material is stored off-site and may take one to two days to retrieve. For inquiries, please call or e-mail.
The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book
Take a tour of San Francisco’s labor past and present working class neighborhoods, labor hangouts, monuments, murals, memorials, and buildings that reflect the history of the people who built the “City by the Bay.” Discover 88 different sites and five neighborhood walking tours covering an array of landmarks from the unique point of view of those who work in its stores, labor in its hotels and run its cable cars.
To order, please call or e-mail.
Current Exhibits, Events & News
Drawings and biographies about the US labor movement by Jos Sances and Bill Morgan.
4th Floor, Library Exhibit Cases
An online exhibit of over 150 images surveys union labels, their history, and related artifacts.
Farm workers and the world of art? It may not seem to be a natural pairing, yet the migrant farm workers’ movement of the 1960s and ‘70s generated artistic symbols of great iconic power that helped launch a new style of Chicano art.
Our Work Life documents three generations of Bay Area work and workers, offering a visual celebration of the people around us whose contributions we enjoy but are often "invisible."