The Journal of San Diego History
SAN DIEGO HISTORICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY
Spring-Summer 1998, Volume 44, Numbers 2 & 3
Richard W. Crawford, Editor
By Gregory L. Williams
Guide ~ Images ~ About Collections ~ About Albums ~ Index
The Booth Historical Photograph Archives of the San Diego Historical Society contains over two million images. These images show San Diego County from the mountains and desert to downtown and the beaches. Dating back to the 1860s, the collection tracks the expansion of the West, the development of the San Diego area, the contributions of various ethnic groups, the geographical formations of the region and the connections between San Diego and Baja California.
It is the way that familiar places used to look that brings so many people to the photograph collection of the Historical Society. With two million or more photographs, the SDHC Collection is one of the most important regional collections of photographs in the nation. It allows the public access to San Diego’s past and clues as to why it looks like it does today. Decade after decade commercial, journalistic or family photographers in San Diego have focused their work on familiar neighborhoods, beaches, harbors, and buildings. This collection, then, allows researchers the opportunity to see how San Diego looked over one hundred years ago, how it has changed, what was being worn, or driven, or sailed.
The collection is not only diverse but also well preserved. Copy negatives or duplicate negatives have been made of large groups of photographs that were once in danger of disappearing because of deterioration. It has also been well preserved by longtime staff members and a corps of longtime volunteers who are responsible for maintaining this most important component of San Diego’s past. In 1994 the Historical Society honored former curator Larry Booth and former archivist Jane Booth for their many years of work in preserving photographs by naming the collection: The Booth Historical Photograph Archives.
Gregory L. Williams, (Former) Curator of Photographs at the San Diego History Center, has worked in curatorial and archival positions at the New Jersey Historical Society, Rutgers University, Colonial Williamsburg, the Oregon State Archives, and the South Carolina Historical Society. He has a Masters’ degree from the University of Oregon. He has compiled and written the Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Early American Research Reports, Guide to the Records of Consumers’ Research, and other guides and articles. He has curated several exhibits including, “San Diego: All in a Day’s Work.”