UC Berkeley News


The San Francisco Examiner's photographers were at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Nov. 13, 1978, when Bob Dylan and his 11-member band performed the first show in a two-night stand. This photo, along with millions of others (including, center, the Chinese Village at 1939's Golden Gate International Exposition and, at right, the Golden Gate Bridge on its first day in operation), along with bound volumes of back issues, clipping files, and other materials, have been donated to the Bancroft Library by the Fang family, which operated the newspaper for several years early in this decade. (Courtesy Bancroft Library's Fang Family San Francisco Examiner Archive)

Bancroft Library receives archives of San Francisco Examiner

| 13 April 2006

The archives of the San Francisco Examiner are being donated to the Bancroft Library, University Librarian Thomas Leonard announced last week. The donation is the single largest gift ever to the Bancroft.

The collection will be known as the Fang Family San Francisco Examiner Archives, in part to pay tribute to the family that published the newspaper from 2000 to 2004. It is a gift of the S.F. Examiner's owner, the Anschutz Corporation, and its subsidiary, the SF Newspaper Company.

The photographic morgue of the Examiner, a newspaper that was at one point the flagship of the Hearst publishing empire, constitutes the bulk of the gift. The archives, which date from circa 1919 to the late 1990s, are estimated to consist of more than 5 million items. The collection will more than double the size of the Bancroft's photographic-print collection and triple the collection of negatives, to a total of more than 8 million prints and negatives.

In addition, the Bancroft will be given 850 bound volumes of daily issues published between 1888 and 1956 as well as the paper's clipping files - more than 3,000 linear feet of materials combined.

Longshoremen to Loma Prieta

The photographic archives provide an unparalleled visual record of the San Francisco Bay Area through the 20th century. They include images of events as diverse as the 1934 longshoremen's strike, the 1937 opening of the Golden Gate Bridge, Johnny Cash's famous 1969 concert at San Quentin State Prison, and the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, as well as materials relating to the Peoples Temple cult and the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

"Great libraries must have more than finished works - they need studies and stories that are complete," says Leonard. "We also need the first drafts and fragments of experience. In both words and pictures, this is what newspapers represent. The Fang Family San Francisco Examiner Archive is a daily diary of how the Bay Area took up its role in the world."

Leonard, also a professor at the Graduate School of Journalism and an expert on the history of journalism, called the donation "an unrivaled source for understanding the San Franciscans who built the city with their labor: what made them laugh, what made them mad, what made them think that they were, in fact, a community."

The San Francisco Examiner has been published continuously since 1865. Under William Randolph Hearst, the paper's popularity soared with the help of writers such as Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and the San Francisco-born Jack London. The paper twice won the Pulitzer Prize: in 1951 for local reporting, for an expose of the Internal Revenue Service, and in 1987 for spot news photography, about the fall of Ferdinand Marcos.

"This is a great day for the Bancroft and for all students of California history," Charles Faulhaber, director of the Bancroft Library, said at a news conference on Tuesday, April 4. "As William Randolph Hearst's first newspaper, the Examiner has a history that is inextricably linked to that of San Francisco, of California, and of the nation. We are immensely grateful for this historic gift in the Bancroft's centennial year."

Bancroft archivists will begin processing the Examiner archives in May. Full processing and cataloging of the collection will take years and is contingent on the availability of funding.

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