“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 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 

EARLIEST FORMS, Daguerreotypes and Ambrotypes from The Society of California Pioneers’ Archives

The Society has many daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in our collection, including portraits of both the famous and the unknown (men, women and children in almost equal number) as well as landscapes and rare early images of San Francisco’s waterfront. This short exhibition (brief to limit their exposure to light) offers the public a rare opportunity to see some of this early form photography, circa 1850.

January 23 to February 1. Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM.

Free Admission – suggested donation of $5.00 to support three programs providing access to our unique collection free of charge: the public exhibition hall, our research library, and museum education programs for local schools.



Pioneer Hall at the Presidio features rotating exhibitions of treasures from The Society of California Pioneers’ vaults, amassed over the organization’s 165-year history. Photographs, paintings, decorative objects and rare manuscripts recall and illuminate the diverse experience of those who came before us.

Open Wednesday to Sunday

10 AM to 5 PM

Free Admission and Museum Education Programs

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