Contents and Arrangement

Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath, 1906

2 folders

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of a collection of 49 photographs made during the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and subsequent fire, which spread rapidly throughout the city on April 18, 1906, causing massive destruction and displacement. There are photographs taken by a number of California-based photographers, including Willard Elmer Worden, Charles C. Pierce, Frederick Arthur Webster, A. Blumberg, Shaw and Shaw, and others.

The photographs depict scenes of collapsed, off-kilter, and partially intact buildings, with one image capturing the "New Post Office" built of stone and still standing, surrounded by the remains of less modern infrastructure. There are also images of warped and cracked streets and roadways showing deep, gaping crevices; a few scenes (primarily by Willard Elmer Worden) showing the city as it burned; and panoramic birds-eye views highlighting the extensive devastation caused by the earthquake and fire. Several photographs in the collection also document the "Tent Cities" that formed at Golden Gate Park to house those who had been displaced. Following the earthquake, photographers rushed to the streets in an effort to document the events, and these photographs quickly became desirable mementos and collectibles for those who lived through them. It is unclear who assembled this collection of photographs, though they may be one such collector. Most photographs are captioned but uncredited.

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were separated from the collection during 2021 processing.


Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield Fund.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to Special Collections Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath; Photographs of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake Aftermath, C1678, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box B-001567