“To collect and preserve information connected with the early settlement and to form libraries and cabinets … that advances the interests and perpetuate the memory of the founders of this new state.” Objectives; Society of California Pioneers Articles of Incorporation, 1850

Established in 1850, The Society of California Pioneers is dedicated to the study and enjoyment of California art, history, and culture. Founded by individuals arriving in California before 1850 and thriving under the leadership of several generations of their direct descendants, The Society has continuously served the academic community and the public.

As the oldest organization west of The Mississippi, The Society opened one of the first library in California, as well as a grand hall for meetings, lectures, and social events. Today, we operate a museum on The Main Post of The Presidio of San Francisco, free museum education programs, and The Alice Phelan Sullivan research library, all as a nonprofit organization designed to support scholarship and to encourage new interpretations that both illuminate and honor the diverse experiences of those who came before us.

Our Current Exhibition

Trade Card, circa 1899  Courtesy of the Levi Strauss & Co. Archives

Although wild speculation fueled the boom-and-bust Gold Rush era, some of San Francisco’s earliest entrepreneurs crafted sound, enduring business models. This exhibition draws from privately-held company archives, family scrapbooks, stockrooms, as well as The Society’s collection of business manuscripts and publications to tell the story of four  ~ Levi Strauss & Co., Tadich Grill, Anchor Brewing, and Shreve & Company ~ each a pioneer in their industry and all still in business.

Established in San Francisco also features selected works from The Society’s collection of prints, paintings and maps. Some of these images reflect the unbridled optimism of the era, depicting San Francisco as an enchanted land of ample opportunity for all; others immortalize the wealthy and elite merchant class that emerged in San Francisco during this early gilded age in The Golden State.

Open Wednesday to Saturday

10 AM to 5 PM

Free Admission

Museum education programs and tours with an advance reservation.


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