Labor Archives and Research Center
In response to the COVID-19 closure of the J. Paul Leonard Library, and corresponding social distancing recommendations, Special Collections and Archives will be providing virtual assistance only from March 17th onward. Please contact the email listed below for assistance.
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 need advance notice 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.