Home Port ° 2017 ~ 2018 Ongoing Updates

Research Sites

Oakland Museum, California, Gold Rush Exhibit.

A Small Selection of Research Resources

The site could NOT have been done without the thousands of people working at California's newspapers during the 1800s: publishers, writers, editors, illustrators, photographers, pressmen, secretaries, typesetters, newspaper boys and delivery people, etc. Following are a few resources which also provided information for The Maritime Heritage Project.

For a comprehensive list of Maritime Museums globally, refer to Smith's Index.
Or view our list of a few highly recommended Maritime Museums around the globe.

United States: California Research Centers

The Bancroft Library

The Bancroft Library officially dates from 1905, when the University of California acquired Hubert Howe Bancroft's personal library. However, it was actually started 42 years earlier, when Bancroft discovered 75 volumes pertaining to California and the West on the shelves of his own San Francisco bookstore. The Library includes the Mark Twain Papers and Project, the Regional Oral History Office, the University of California Archives, and the Pictorial Collection. It has become one of the largest special collections in the United States.

California Historical Society

The California Historical Society, founded in 1871, presents collections that feature California's richly diverse past. Documents and manuscripts include fine arts, photographs, texts, maps and several special collections found nowhere else in the country. They also feature a collection of California history books from noted author/publisher Malcolm Margoiln.
678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105

California Pioneer Museum

The Society of California Pioneers exhibitions in San Francisco offer a window to the past history of California and the West. The Society maintains a rotating schedule of cross-disciplinary exhibitions focused on California art, history, and culture. Highlights of recent seasons include Incompletely Visible: the Legacy of the Bay Area Missions, Good Prospects: Life in the California Gold Fields, andThe Big Picture: Panoramic Views of California, all of which drew upon the museum s collections that were amassed over the last century and a half.

National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region

Contains nationwide holdings relating to family history/genealogy research and veterans' service records, reproductions, NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL) database, Government documents and library materials, and more. Northern California office:

NARA - Pacific Region (San Francisco Bay Area)
Archival Operations Staff (NRHA-S)
1000 Commodore Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066-2350 
Hours: Monday-Friday by appointment. Closed all Federal Holidays
(Approximately 12 miles south of San Francisco)

Holdings include records from Federal agencies and courts in northern California, Hawaii, Nevada (except Clark County), the Pacific Trust Territories, and American Samoa.

Ships logs, (including "secret logs" containing classified deck logs not published or then available to the general public) for West Coast shipping are held at the San Bruno Archives and at the National Archives in Washington, D. C.

Archival Research and Family History Information: 
eMail: SanBruno.archives.nara.gov
Records can be ordered online through their link at: 
http://www.archives.gov/san-francisco/contacts.html )
Call (650) 238-3501
FAX (650) 238-3510

National Maritime Digital Library

The Digital Library collects, preserves and makes accessible maritime resources in electronic format. The Digital Library will be guided by an advisory board of archivists, librarians, humanities scholars and systems specialists. It consists of:

  1. A Maritime Search Engine to provide access to existing electronic maritime resources.
  2. An Electronic Repository for maritime materials with no other home, including curricula, grey literature and Coriolis: the Interdisciplinary Journal of Maritime Studies.
  3. A Communication or Community forum compiling maritime news, reviews of available resources and books, user-added items, etc.
  4. What's Happening . . .
    • San Francisco Shanghaid: A database containing the names, vessels and shipping agents for late 19th century San Francisco vessels.
    • The American Offshore Whaling Voyages Database, a project of the The World Whaling History, is focused on describing the effects that whaling has had on populations of whales over the centuries and throughout the world's oceans.
    • The Whaleman's Shipping List was the main source of information on American whaling vessels from the late 1800s to early 1900s. It is available for research.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park Research Center

The San Francisco Maritime Library at Fort Mason has an extensive collection of reference materials for maritime researchers. It is filled with photos, historical papers, books on California maritime history, photographs and additional information on the ships listed at this site. Well worth a visit and open to the public; call first as the Librarian may have to meet you there. The Maritime Research Center provides access to the library, archives and museum collections and encourages research in maritime history and humanities.

San Francisco Public Library, Main Branch

The Main Branch at 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, holds microfiche of newspapers published in early San Francisco invaluable to any researcher. (Many, but not all, are now available online.) Their printed collections include an African America Center, Chinese Center, Filipino American Center, San Francisco History Center, and San Francisco Photo Collection.

The Oakland Museum of California

The Oakland Museum features extensive exhibitions of early California artifacts, including a model gold assayer's office, a fire engine and a classic carriage. The Museum explores the indigenous cultures who came to California beginning with tribes native to the land prior to the arrival of Europeans before and during the Gold Rush. The collections of art, history and natural science tell the extraordinary stories of California and its people. With more than 1.8 million objects, OMCA is a leading cultural institution of the Bay Area and a resource for the research and understanding of California's dynamic cultural and environmental heritage.
1000 Oak Street, Oakland, CA 94607. General information: Please check their website for contact information.

Chinese Historical Society

This small museum focuses on the Chinese experience in America, from the Gold Rush to present day. This is the oldest and largest organization in the country dedicated to the documentation, study and presentation of Chinese American history. Exhibitions, publications and porgrams promote the contributions and legacy of Chinese America.

Students have opportunities to interact with a person that provides an eyewitness account of historical events. These characters retell their life stories and engage audiences in a rich portrait of the Chinese American experience. Each presentation is in the traditional Chatauquan format, the presenter will speak about their life in character, then the audience will be allowed to ask questions of the character, and then the presenter will come out of character and answer questions.

An Artist-in-Residence and renowned storytellers will entertain children with stories and fables. A performance of classic myths and legends in the traditional teahouse style. Hear stories of heroes and heroines of China's 4,000 year history. 965 Clay Street, San Francisco. 415 391 1188

Around the World: Notable Resources

Smith's Master Index

Smith's Master Index to Maritime Museum Web Sites is helpful for researchers seeking information from all ports. His list includes Virtual Maritime Museums.

Lloyds of London.

Lloyds of London

For more than 300 years, Lloyds of London have been insuring ships. In the 17th century, London's importance as a trade centre led to an increasing demand for ship and cargo insurance. (Image: Lloyd's Coffee House.)

Edward Lloyd's coffee house became recognised as the place for obtaining marine insurance and this is where the Lloyd’s that we know today began. Their site includes:

 Shipping Claims and Catastrophes.

A a brief illustrated history is also included herein: Lloyds of London.

A Few History and Immigration Sites

National Archives at New York City

New York Passenger Arrival Records, 1820-1957. The Archives have microfilm of passenger lists of vessels arriving at the Port of New York, 1820 to July 3, 1957, and indexes for the years 1820-1846 and 1897-1948. The passenger list records were created by the U. S. Customs Service (Record Group 36), and the Immigration and Naturalization Service [INS] (Record Group 85).

Best of History Websites

Created in 2001 by Tom Daccord, a history teacher for 15 years and co-director of EdTechTeacher, Inc. Tom is an educational technology specialist and author of Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Teachers and The Best of History Web Sites.

Best of History Web Sites has been recommended by: The National Council for the Social Studies, Princeton University, The British Library Net, The Detroit Free Press, History on the Net, The Denver Post, The Washington Library Media Association, ABC News Radio, Teaching History Magazine, UNESCO, Academic Info, the United States government, Landmark for Schools, Merlot, MIT Libraries, Pacific Bell's Great Links to U.S. History, City University of New York, HistoryTeacher.net, WWW Virtual Library, Babson College Horn Library, teachersfirst.com, Philadelphia University, Teaching History Online, California State University at Northridge, University of Queensland (Australia), University of Houston-Downtown, Herriot Watt University (Scotland), ISI Web of Knowledge, Maricopa Center for Learning and Instruction, The Scout Report, Kingswood College Library, Teachnology, and others.

Passenger Ships to Western Australia 1829-1849

Ships into Western Australia between 1829 and 1849 which carried 10 or more passengers.

California Bound: 1848-1873

Ship Passenger Lists, Wagon Train Lists, Isthmus of Panama Passenger Information. California Bound lists were initially the work of John Ireland from 1999 to 2008. In 2008, he asked SFgenealogy to take them over.

These lists have been maintained since 2008. The passenger lists have been transcribed from microfilm of the New York Daily Times, the New York Herald, the New Orleans Picayune, the Panama Star, the Panama Herald, and the Boston Daily Evening Transcript. When possible, passengers were linked to the ship they later boarded on the Pacific side of the Isthmus for the final leg of the journey to San Francisco.

Maritime History Virtual Archives

A Guide to Maritime History on the Internet: The Maritime History Virtual Archives 
A gentlemen named Lars Bruzelius has put up the most impressive site of: Bibliotheca Nautica, Bibliographies and Antiquarian Bookshops; Etymology, including Dictionaries; Biographies; Societies; Conferences & Lectures; Maritime and Naval Museums; Ship models; Shipbuilding and Naval Architecture - Mainly wooden shipbuilding; Masting and Rigging; Seamanship; Ships - Mainly sailing ships from the second half of the 19th century; The Duties of Officers and Men; Maritime History, including Shipwrecks and other Disasters at Sea; Naval History; images of ships and ship models; Health of Seamen, with a couple of quotations on scurvy.


A site for lovers of all tall ships. Schoonerman has details and photographs of schooners, brigs, brigantines, barks and fully rigged tall ships. If you love the history of the sea or the feel of the wind, don't miss this site.

Virtual Museum of San Francisco

The Museum's Web site features stories of San Francisco through the years. Well organized, excellent collection of facts and photographs chronicling the growth of one of the world's greatest cities.


Map of New York Bay and Harbor. c. 1866
(Example: This particular map may not be on Wrecksite.)

The wreck site is the world largest online wreck database with 162,160 wrecks and 156,160 positions, 45,430 images, 1,796 maritime charts by country, 28,250 ship owners and builders, country flags and company flags, diving, fishing, and more. Absolutely fascinating!

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG)

The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild  includes links for researching emigration, immigration and naturalization, 100+ passenger list sites, ethnic research, libraries and archives, passenger ship types, descriptions and images, and additional worldwide maritime information available both on-line and off-line.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.