Berkeley History Online Resources

Our CatalogIt Hub site includes thousands of historic photos along with information about other items in our collection. Our newsletter archive is full of interesting articles.

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) has a search function that can lead you to many articles about Berkeley people and places. (Scroll down to bottom of home page.) You can also browse  lists of their articles from the series Berkeley Observed and East Bay: Then & Now.

An online exhibit, The Heart of Berkeley: The Historic McGee-Spaulding District, includes a timeline that covers quite a bit of Berkeley history, with an emphasis on the area bounded by Dwight Way,  Sacramento Street, University Avenue, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way.

The Berkeley Public Library’s Berkeley history page has a subject index to History Room clipping files, viewable by appointment, and links to maps, photos, digitized school yearbooks, an obituary index and more.

The Berkeley Historical Plaque Project was established in 1997 with sponsorship from the City of Berkeley and its Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) and the Berkeley Historical Society (BHS). In addition to informative plaques around the city, their website includes a section of e-Plaques—texts and images that exist solely online.

For a quick overview of “Berkeley Firsts,” see this SF Chronicle article from 2008.

“How Berkeley Became Berkeley” by Dave Weinstein gives highlights of his book, It Came from Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World.

Early Histories Now Online

History of Alameda County, 1883

History of the Berkeley Schools: An Account of the School System of Berkeley from Its Establishment to Date, 1918

W.W. Ferrier, Berkeley, CaliforniaThe Story of the Evolution of a Hamlet into a City of Culture and Commerce, 1933

Berkeley, the First Seventy-Five Years, 1941

Alan J. Cohen’s History of Berkeley from the Ground Up (now archived on Archive.org) has many details of the complex history of property ownership and development in and around Berkeley from the rancho period to the early 20th century.

Maps

See UC Berkeley Library’s Historic Maps of the Bay Area and the David Rumsey Map Collection at Stanford.

The Library of Congress has several Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps for Berkeley online.

Newspapers

Some past issues of the Berkeley Daily Gazette from 1911 through 1946 are viewable on Google News, but it is by no means a complete archive. (The Gazette is also available at NewspaperArchive.com.)

The Independent Voices website has a searchable digital collection including the Berkeley Barb and Berkeley Tribe alternative newspapers.

The Berkeley Daily Planet online newspaper has numerous articles about Berkeley history—see “Search the Planet” at top of home page. 

Specialized Websites

A Visual History of the Free Speech Movement is a UC Berkeley website.

The Berkeley Revolution focuses on the late 1960s and 1970s. It emerged from an honors undergraduate seminar in American Studies at UC Berkeley, “The Bay Area in the Seventies,” taught by Scott Saul in the spring of 2017 and repeated periodically. It contains more than 500 documents that together explore “the rare city in the United States where the transformations of the 1960s continued to gain momentum in the 1970s.”

David Mundstock compiled a chronology of Berkeley politics in the 1970s and campaign posters from the ’70s and beyond.

The searchable City of Berkeley’s Records Online contains election information, ordinances, resolutions, agendas, meeting minutes, contracts, and other City documents.

History of Telegraph Avenue is provided by the Telegraph Business Improvement District.

Tom Dalzell’s Quirky Berkeley blog sometimes delves into details of the city’s history. See especially the “Gone” category in the right sidebar menu.

The South Berkeley Legacy Project has a Facebook page, including a video of a neighborhood walking tour.

The Berkeley South Asian History Archive is a rich resource for the history of immigrants to the Bay Area from South Asia and their descendants.

FoundSF has several historical essays about Berkeley:
“Berkeley Copwatch” by Peyton Provenzano
“Berkeley Tenants Union in the 1970s” by Justin Germain
“Berkeley’s Sanctuary Movement” by Kat Jerman
“Berkeley’s Establishment of a Police Review Commission” by Jennifer Andi
“Communal Living Sketches in Berkeley” by Paula Jaramillo
“Strawberry Creek” by Sruthi Davuluri
“The West Berkeley Industrial Park Redevelopment Project” By Elliot Lewis

The Berkeley Citizen website has some interesting links, especially to past community activism.

Media

East Bay Yesterday is a podcast that’s mostly Oakland-centric but sometimes touches on Berkeley history.

The State Capitol Almost Moved to Berkeley and All It Got Was This Sweet Bear Fountain,” KQED’s Bay Curious (audio recording and transcript with images)

For photos of early Berkeley, see also:

Our CatalogIt Hub page, with many of the photos and postcards in our collection

An 1898 album, “Berkeley, California: A Portrayal of the Beautiful College Town around California’s State University” 

A 1905 illustrated realtors’ booster booklet, “Berkeley, a City of Homes”

Our Berkeley History Facebook group and another Facebook group, Historical Berkeley.