Detailed information on Bay Area architecture not available in books is often available in periodicals or journals. Periodical titles owned by the UCB Libraries are listed in the library catalogs, but for an index to the contents of the periodicals, you must use a periodical index. Although some periodical indexes or databases are now available online, many of those for historical information are only available in print.
Use the subject headings/keywords identified from your book search to locate articles. If you know the name of the architect or architectural firm, look directly under that name. Search online indexes using "subject word" or "title (keyword) word," or search "corporate name" when you are searching for a firm name or name of an institutional building, such as a church. For a more complete list of indexes see our web page Architecture Periodical Indexes or History of Architecture Periodical Indexes. The major periodical indexes for locating information on the history of Bay Area architecture are listed below.
Public records are important resources in researching buildings and places. Local government agencies often maintain useful records, such as: Building and water or utility permits will help you determine dates a place was built or altered, provide plans and/or drawings, and indicate ownership and designer. Deeds and tax assessment records also help identify who lived in or owned a place. Plat maps and city block books show land boundaries and street layouts. Older records may be sent to local historical societies or public library special collections. Most state libraries also maintain archival collections of records, and federal agencies also have materials related to historic buildings and places. Refer to the section on Archives for a list of local collections, or search the Online Archive of California. The following sources offer advice on locating and using public records.
Maps are a good source for tracing the development and dating of a neighborhood. Plat maps show a variety of details, including actual lot boundaries, special uses, building materials and building footprints. The most common are fire insurance maps. The Earth Sciences & Map Library and Bancroft Library have an extraordinary collection. Check library catalogs under location and format maps for additional resources
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps are large-scale plans containing data used originally to estimate the potential risk for urban structures, and include an outline of each building, the size, shape and construction materials, heights, and function of structures, and location of windows and doors. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. They are an excellent source on the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
Newspapers are an often overlooked source of information on local architecture. Most public libraries have collections of newspapers from their own cities, either in subject clipping files or on microfilm. Many Bay Area newspapers have been collected and selectively indexed at the Bancroft Library on campus.
Print Indexes and other resources
City Directories are good sources for identifying individuals who lived or owned a structure, or businesses which operated at a particular address, in a particular year or years. Many city directories were produced annually and offer cross listings so you can search either by address or name. Most state and public libraries, as well as local historical societies, collect city directories for their region. See the Archives section for a listing of Bay Area organizations with collections of city directories, or check the library catalogs under subject word [name of city]--Directories for additional resources in the UC Libraries. Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco Public Libraries maintain special collections, as does the UCB Bancroft Library. Below is a very select list of examples of early city directories and collections.
In addition to the books and resources elsewhere in this guide, use these sources, some print and some Internet, for locating pictorial material on your architect or building. See also the section on Archives and Special Resources.
See also Image Sources for the Built Environment for more resources.