Labor Archives and Research Center

The Labor Archives and Research Center was founded in 1985 by trade union leaders, historians, labor activists and university administrators, to preserve the deep labor history of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our collections consist of the records of many of the unions and labor councils of the nine counties of the Bay Area, the papers of many rank and file members, photographs, newspapers, ephemera, and an extensive oral history collection.

The Labor Archives, located on the 4th Floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library on the SFSU campus. You are welcome to submit questions about our collections, or ask questions about your research needs via email.

To receive event announcements, get the latest collection news, and see behind the scenes content, subscribe to our Newsletter, and follow us on Instagram or YouTube.


The faculty of Special Collections can also create course-specific assignments and lead customized classes to support primary source literacy.  To request instruction complete our Primary Source Instruction Request form and we'll get in touch!


Tuesday through Thursday: 10am - 4pm by appointment only.

Exhibits & Events

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Join the Labor Archives and Research Center for a

Book talk with Robert W. Cherny

in discussion with Steve Zeltzer of WorkWeek, Pacifica, and KPOO, as part of LaborFest

"San Francisco Reds: California Communism and Its Afterlives"

When: Monday, July 22, 2024 | 3:00-5:00 pm

Where: J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 460 (4th Floor) | San Francisco State University


Cherny’s work talks about the early growth of the party in California and the role of the trade union and class struggle particularly in the San Francisco 1934 general strike. He also writes about the political twists and turns of the Soviet Union’s communist party and how their political changes reflected itself in California members of the Communist Party.

The presentation will start with a slide show by the author and a discussion about the relationship between research subjects and sources, based on Cherny's own experience from graduate school to now, with an emphasis on the interplay between a research question and the availability of archival sources.

For the full LaborFest 2024 calendar visit:





Fields of Struggle: Agricultural Laborers in California, 1939-1966

A Labor Archives and Research Center Exhibition

Special Collections Gallery, Room 460 (4th Floor), J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco State University 

Open March-December 2024 | Tuesdays-Thursdays 10am-4pm

The Labor Archives and Research Center exhibition Fields of Struggle: Agricultural Laborers in California, 1939-1966, is open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm.

Fields of Struggle, curated by Digital Archivist Leah Sylva, consists of photographs, documents, audio, video, and artifacts drawn from the papers of Henry P. Anderson.  The exhibit examines the tensions and solidarity between distinct groups of migrant agricultural laborers, with an emphasis on the Bracero Program and the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC).

The exhibit zooms out into a sociological analysis of the field of agriculture, looking at the actors involved, their varying relationships with land and labor, issues of power and counter-power, and the potential for transformation within this field.

This exhibit was generously funded by the Anderson Family Trust & Friends of the J. Paul Leonard Library.




chinese garment workers

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 our Collections

The San Francisco Labor Landmarks Guide Book

Labor Landmarks Book Cover

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.