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Politics and Protest: Collections from The Bancroft Library

Overview of Collections

The Bancroft Library has one of the largest pictorial collection at a research institution in the nation, second only to the Library of Congress. The photography component is represented in a wide variety of formats, including negative strips, contact sheets, large-scale exhibition prints, and digital files. While there are significant stand-alone photograph collections, many politician, activist, and organization papers have a companion photograph archive that is cataloged separately.

For photographs of events and demonstrations on the UC Berkeley campus, please visit the UC Berkeley section.

Historical Photograph Collections

The Bancroft Library has several historical photograph collections that document life in early California, particularly San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. Along with comprehensive cityscapes, depicted are political figures and party members, celebrations of civic and national pride, and the doings of local governances. The Bancroft also has the photographic archives of two major Bay Area newspapers: the San Francisco Examiner and the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin.

WPA workers striking on Harmon Street in Oakland

WPA workers striking on on street improvement job on Harmon Street in Oakland
Image citation: Fang family San Francisco Examiner photograph archive negative files, BANC PIC 2006.029--NEG, Box 654, Sleeve 094719_09, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Farm Security Administration

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States, and assisted with rural rehabilitation, farm loans, and subsistence homestead programs. The FSA's small but highly influential photography program documented depression-era conditions in the American South, Midwest, Southwest, and California. These photographs form an extensive pictorial record of American life, portraying the challenges of rural poverty including the impact of drought and the living conditions of agricultural laborers. The photographers for this program include critically acclaimed photojournalists Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange.

Migrant worker's tent home with car

Migrant worker's tent home with car
Image citation: Farm Security Administration photograph collection, BANC PIC 1942.008--PIC, Box 2, Folder 102, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

David Johnson

David Johnson, noted photographer, was an alum of Ansel Adams' first class in the new Department of Photography at San Francisco's California School of Fine Arts. Moving to California in 1945, Johnson lived briefly with Adams, and was mentored by Minor White, another teacher at the school. After moving to the African American neighborhood of San Francisco's Fillmore District, Johnson was encouraged by Adams and White to document his local community. Over the next several decades, Johnson developed a body of work strongly influenced by the people and events of his community and the broader social and political issues of his times. His collection includes much portraiture and documentation of demonstrations, concerts, political campaigns, streets scenes and other aspects of San Francisco's African American community and the local and national civil rights struggles of the era. The photo below, depicting an African American boy holding an American flag in the lap of the Abraham Lincoln statue outside of City Hall during an NAACP-sponsored demonstration in downtown San Francisco, is considered one of Johnson's most iconic works.

Boy and Lincoln

Boy and Lincoln
Image citation: David Johnson photograph archive, BANC PIC 2017.001, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Bay Area Photojournalism

A host of preeminent photojournalists including Harold Adler, Ted Streshinsky, Alan Copeland, and Stephen Shames captured the Bay Area protests and politics of the 1960s and 1970s. Their images of bloody demonstrations at People's Park and San Francisco State University, polarizing figures of the Black Panther Party and United Farm Workers, and more appeared in local radical counterculture underground newspapers like the Berkeley Barb and Berkeley Tribe, as well as the nationally recognized Time and Life magazines. Depicted below is one of Harold Adler's wedding photographs of General Wastemoreland and Elizabeth Schwartz at the Lutheran University Chapel in Berkeley, taken on March 7, 1970. General Wastemoreland (aka. Thomas Dunphy) was a leading personality of an anti-Vietnam War guerrilla street theater group based in Berkeley.

General Wastemoreland's wedding

General Wastemoreland's Wedding
Image citation: Berkeley and San Francisco Bay Area scenes from the 1960's, BANC PIC 1992.063:44--PIC, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Michelle Vignes

Michelle Vignes, a documentary photographer and photojournalist, visually captured the American Indian Movement from the 1960s through the 1990s. Two particularly notable subject areas are the 18-month occupation of Alcatraz Island (1969-1971) and the Siege of Wounded Knee (1973). Other images depict subjects ranging from pueblos and reservations of the Southwest to the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, as well as many other parts of North America. Well-represented California subjects include D-Q University, the Native American Health Clinic in San Francisco and Oakland, and Northern California Indian casinos of the 1990s.

You are on Indian Land exhibition print

You are on Indian Land exhibition print
Image citation: Michelle Vignes Photograph Archive, BANC PIC 2003.108--AX, Box 29, Folder 3, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Ira Nowinski

San Francisco-based photographer Ira Nowinski documented the impact of urban renewal efforts on the low-income elderly population of the South of Market district of San Francisco during the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency's campaign in the 1960s and 70s to acquire property that would eventually become redeveloped into Yerba Buena Center. Many of the images were used in the production of Nowinski's book No Vacancy: Urban Renewal and the Elderly. Photographs include portraits of elderly residents, interiors and exteriors of various single room occupancy hotels and other low-income housing projects, restaurants and storefronts, street scenes, demolition scenes, housing rights activism, and the everyday life of neighborhood residents. Individuals depicted include resident activists George Woolf and Peter Mendelsohn.

Cover of No Vacancy mock-up book

Cover of No Vacancy mock-up book
Image citation: No Vacancy photograph archive, BANC PIC 2003.082--PIC, Box 3, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Betty Medsger

A former Washington Post reporter, educator, and author, Betty Medsger documented the efforts of disability-rights activists Mark O'Brien, Tarri Tanaka, Judy Heumann, Don Scanlon, Denise Vancil and Vince Rios in the 1970s and 80s. These images, along with interviews conducted by Medsger, were to be included in an intended publication titled I don't just cope, I live. Medsger's other photography project documenting women at work in various professions, realized in the publication Women at Work, is also held at The Bancroft Library.

Judy Heumann holding placard at disability rights rally

Judy Heumann holding placard at disability rights rally
Image citation: Betty Medsger disability rights photographs, BANC PIC 2004.145--PIC, Folder: "Heumann, Judy Photos," no.24, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Cathy Cade

In addition to a being a feminist and lesbian activist, Cathy Cade has been a documentary photographer for over thirty years. Her expansive portfolio has captured LGBTQ+ life in the Bay Area, with a focus on the lesbian community, as well as demonstrations for equality on all fronts, ranging from California's earliest Pride parades to the 2011 Occupy Movement.

Sisterhood feels good

Sisterhood feels good, LA, 1972
Image citation: Cathy Cade photograph archive, BANC PIC 2012.054, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Key Collections

Roy D. Graves pictorial collection, 1850-1950
BANC PIC 1905.17500

Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures

Fang family San Francisco Examiner photograph archive photographic print files, 1874-2000 (bulk 1911-2000)
BANC PIC 2006.029

Collection Finding Aid
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures, demonstrations, protests

Photographs from the Anthony Tusler collection of disability rights material, 1880-2000
BANC PIC 2015.054

► Subjects: Disability rights

Jesse Brown Cook scrapbooks documenting San Francisco history and law enforcement, 1895-1936
BANC PIC 1996.003--fALB

Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures

The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin newspaper photograph archive: Part 1 and Part 1a, 1915-1939 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 1959.010 pt.1-1a
Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures, demonstrations, protests, organized labor

Fang family San Francisco Examiner photograph archive negative files, 1920-2000 (bulk 1929-1999) (partially restricted collection, appointment required to view)
BANC PIC 2006.029--NEG
Collection Finding Aid (some images available through Calisphere)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures, demonstrations, protests

1934 International Longshoremen's Association and General strikes of San Francisco, 1933-1934 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 1959.003--PIC
Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Organized labor, strikes

Migrant labor camp photographs from the Harry Everett Drobish papers, 1935-1936
BANC PIC 1954.013--PIC

Collection Finding Aid (contains digitized images)
► Subjects: Labor, migrant workers

Farm Security Administration photograph collection, 1935-1945 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 1942.008--PIC
► Please email bancref@library.berkeley.edu for container listing
► Subjects: Labor, migrant workers, strikes

National Council on Agricultural Life and Labor photographs, 1936-1945
BANC PIC 1967.047--A

► Subjects: Labor, migrant workers

The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin newspaper photograph archive: Part 2, 1938-1951 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 1959.010 pt.2
Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures, demonstrations, protests, organized labor

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region 1 photograph collection, 1940-1982
BANC PIC 1978.147--PIC

Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Civil rights

David Johnson photograph archive, 1940-2015 (bulk 1945-1965) (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 2017.001
Collection Finding Aid
► Subjects: Civil rights, Bay Area demonstrations

Photographs from the Cody's Books records, 1946-1987 (bulk 1956-1975)
BANC PIC 2009.060

► Subjects: Bay Area demonstrations

Lonnie H. Wilson photograph archive, 1950-1988 (partially restricted and unprocessed collection, appointment required to view)
BANC PIC 1992.029--NEG
Collection Finding Aid
► Subjects: Local and national politics, labor strikes, student protests

Cathy Cade photograph archive, 1950-2010 (bulk 1971-2005) (partially unprocessed collection)
BANC PIC 2012.054
► Please email bancref@library.berkeley.edu for container listing
► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights

The San Francisco News-Call Bulletin newspaper photograph archive: Part 3, 1951-1965 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 1959.010 pt.3
Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Bay Area political figures, demonstrations, protests, organized labor, civil rights

Ted Streshinsky photograph archive, 1954-1985 (partially unprocessed and restricted collection)
BANC PIC 2004.132
► Please email bancref@library.berkeley.edu for container listing
► Subjects: Free Speech Movement, Cesar Chavez, United Farm Workers

Michelle Vignes photograph archive, 1959-2001 (partially restricted and unprocessed collection)
BANC PIC 2003.108
► Subjects: American Indian Movement

Chauncey Hare photograph archive, 1960-1980 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 2000.012
Collection Finding Aid (some images available)
► Subjects: Labor, anti-corporation, disability rights

No Vacancy photograph archive, 1960-2000 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 2003.082
► Please email bancref@library.berkeley.edu for container listing
► Subjects: Housing, poverty

African Americans in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1963-1974 (images available online)
BANC PIC 1985.079--AX
► Subjects: Black Panther Party, strikes, civil rights, Bay Area demonstrations

San Francisco Bay Area social protest photographs of the 1960s and 1970s, 1965-1980
BANC PIC 2017.065--AX

► Subjects: Civil rights, LGBTQ+ rights

General Wastemoreland photograph and memorabilia collection, 1965-1990
BANC PIC 2000.063

► Subjects: Vietnam War

Eldridge Cleaver photograph collection, 1966-1982
BANC PIC 1991.078

Collection Finding Aid
► Subjects: Civil rights, Black Panther Party, Bay Area demonstrations

Berkeley and San Francisco Bay Area scenes from the 1960's, 1967-1972
BANC PIC 1992.063

► Subjects: Bay Area demonstrations, Black Panther Party, LGBTQ+ rights

Stephen Shames Black Panther photograph collection, 1967-1972
BANC PIC 2002.078--PIC

► Subjects: Black Panther Party, Bay Area demonstrations

Alan Copeland photograph archive, 1968-1989
BANC PIC 2017.041

Collection Finding Aid
► Subjects: People's Park, Black Panther Party, Vietnam War, Third World Liberation Front, Bay Area demonstrations

Naomi Murdach collection of San Francisco gay pageant photographs, 1970-1985
BANC PIC 2016.089

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights

General Wastemoreland's wedding and anti-Vietnam war protests, 1970-1998
BANC PIC 1999.033--AX

► Subjects: Vietnam War

Photographs from the Center for Independent Living records, 1970-2015 (partially restricted collection)
BANC PIC 2019.086
► Subjects: Disability rights

Black Panthers photographs, 1971
BANC PIC 1999.034--AX

► Subjects: Black Panther Party, Bay Area demonstrations

Cathy Cade photographs, 1971-1994
BANC PIC 2005.129

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights, women's rights, labor

Betty Medsger disability rights photographs, 1975-1985
BANC PIC 2004.145

► Subjects: Disability rights

Dan Nicoletta photographs of San Francisco queer culture, 1975-2001
BANC PIC 2011.009

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights

Clifford Baker photographs of the San Francisco gay and lesbian community, 1980-2000 (bulk 1984-1996)
BANC PIC 2004.002

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights

Photographs from the Rosalie Nichols collection pertaining to Our Paper, 1982-1995
BANC PIC 2012.121

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights

Edward V. Roberts photographs from the World Institute on Disability records, 1983-2002
BANC PIC 2015.010

► Subjects: Disability rights

Lydia Gans photograph archive of disability activism and community, 1988-2000
BANC PIC 2016.034

► Subjects: Disability rights

Cathy Cade photograph albums, 2011-2015
BANC PIC 2017.002

► Subjects: LGBTQ+ rights, Oakland Occupy movement, Black Lives Matter