Research Resources

​​​​​​This page describes the research resources provided by the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, and other regional and national sources.

Presidio Trust Physical + Online Collection

The Presidio Trust maintains a collection of physical and online reference materials to support the work of its staff and provide information to the public.

Public access to the physical collection is by appointment. To arrange a visit, available weekdays between 10 am and 4 pm, contact our Librarian, John Bertland, at jbertland@presidiotrust.gov or (415) 561-2713.

Our part-time Librarian is available on a limited basis to help the public with questions regarding the Presidio Trust and the history of the Presidio of San Francisco using the materials we have in our collection. We are generally able to assist with requests that take up to two hours of research time. For more extensive research needs, our Librarian can refer the inquirer to other collections.

There are four major elements to the Presidio Trust’s collection:

1-Presidio Trust Public Documents include board documents, land use plans, planning and compliance documents, annual reports, budgets, Freedom of Information Act documents, and more. They are available online at www.presidio.gov/presidio-trust/planning/public-documents. Information about the Trust’s National Environmental Policy Act process is at www.presidio.gov/presidio-trust/planning/national-environmental-policy-act.

2-The Trust’s environmental remediation collection includes investigative reports, feasibility studies, progress reports, sampling plans, work plans, and action plans, and documentation and certification of completed work. Some items date to the 1980s, and most of the early items in this collection are Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) documents which the U.S. Army transferred to the Presidio Trust in August 1999. The collection also includes Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meeting transcripts and reports. Most of this collection is in a digital format and can be made available on request. Many RAB documents are available online through the Internet Archive. A number of the Army-era and BRAC materials are available online through the Army’s Defense Technical Information Center.

3-Documents concerning Presidio Trust planning, interpretation, and ecological management are in a variety of formats and were either produced in the course of Trust activity or were collected to support that activity. They include historical studies and other historical materials such as maps, reports, newspaper clipping files, and oral history transcripts, most of which are also available as copies or as original items at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area Park Archives and Records Center in the Presidio.

4-The Presidio Trust also maintains for internal use a digital library of current and historical photographs, digital copies of many of the documents in the physical part of the collection, as well as some video and audio materials. The Presidio Trust has made this collection available to project partners in the past, including the National Park Service.

National Park Service Golden Gate National Recreation Area Park Archives + Records Center

This facility holds five million documents, photographs, oral histories, and maps that document the history of the GGNRA from Spanish exploration and the establishment of the Presidio in 1776 to current activities. It houses a large collection of US Army records pertaining to the Presidio and other military sites with more than 50,000 engineering drawings and maps of sites, individual buildings, and coastal defenses. A collection of historical images can be viewed in the online GGNRA Photo Gallery. It is located in the Presidio at 667 McDowell Avenue. Contact them at (415) 561-2808 or Amanda_Williford@nps.gov. Hours are limited so please call prior to your visit.

Other Research Resources

Military Personnel Records – National Archives and Records Administration >>
This site contains information on how to obtain copies of military service and medical records from the National Archives’ National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

OpenSFHistory >>
A program of the non-profit Western Neighborhoods Project to share online a collection of over 100,000 negatives and prints documenting San Francisco history from a variety of official, commercial, and amateur sources. It currently contains several hundred photos related to the Presidio from the 1860s to the 1990s.

California Historical Society (CHS) >>
Founded in 1871, the CHS collection includes materials documenting the history of California, including manuscripts, photographs, and art. An online archive of digitized primary sources is available in the California Historical Society Digital Library.

Society of California Pioneers >>
Located in the Presidio, this archive documents the founding and early history of California, including the Gold Rush, the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the Panama Pacific International Exposition, and other events. The collection includes manuscripts, letters, paintings, prints and drawings, photographs, books, maps, newspapers and journals, and historic artifacts.

San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library >>
The Daniel E. Koshland San Francisco History Center contains books, newspapers, magazines, photographs, maps, posters, archives and manuscript collections, and ephemera documenting San Francisco life and history. The Center is also the archives for the City and County of San Francisco. Photographs are searchable online in the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection.

Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley >>
The Bancroft Library is the primary special collections library at the University of California at Berkeley. One of the largest and most heavily used libraries of manuscripts, rare books, and unique materials in the United States, the Bancroft’s collections are particularly strong on California and the West.

Online Archive of California >>
An initiative of the California Digital Library, this is an online archive of collection guides and digitized primary sources contributed by libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California and collections maintained by the 10 University of California campuses.

California State Military Museums >>
The museum system of California’s military department includes a library, artifacts, and a substantial archive.