I recently came across a unique, and very useful, digital archive documenting the history of San Francisco called FoundSF. The archive is a wiki – a website that is maintained and edited through the collaborative processes of its users – that catalogs and presents historical artifacts from the San Francisco area. It contains digitized newspapers, videos, and pictures of San Francisco and the communities that call it home. The themes of the collection found on FoundSF range from broad discussions on race, gender, and the area’s ecology, to remembrances of San Francisco theme parks and attractions.
Perhaps to the surprise of few, there is much space dedicated to the various protest movements that rocked San Francisco over the latter half of the twentieth-century. In fact, a certain rebelliousness pervades the entire archive, with many of the conventions of impartiality ignored. As the curators point out, “FoundSF does not have a mission to present a ‘neutral point of view.’ Instead, we are focused on presenting real artifacts of history, and some of the best of these are highly biased and provocative.”
Although one should not take what is written on FoundSF as the gospel truth – and let’s be honest, most of the readers of Peace and Change are used to giving their sources a careful inspection – the documents held in the archive are fascinating.
For example, there are interviews with activists that highlight the intersection of the Gay Rights movement with pro-FSLN activism in the 1970s and 1980s.
There are also remembrances of the 1968 San Francisco State student strike, accompanied by pictures of the unrest.
Although admittedly tendentious, FoundSF is a treasure trove of documents detailing the turbulent history of San Francisco and is a valuable source for both researchers and educators.