The Society of California Pioneers to Open History Museum and Research Library at           

The Presidio of San Francisco
New Location Will Expand Nonprofit’s Service to the Community

Pioneer Hall at the Presidio


San Francisco, CA   March 1, 2014 — One of the iconic Montgomery Barracks Buildings on The Presidio of San Francisco’s historic Main Post will become a California history museum later this year, when The Society of California Pioneers relocates there to expand and enrich the experience of Presidio visitors.

Established in 1850, The Society of California Pioneers collects, maintains and exhibits California art and artifacts from the early years of statehood.  Founded by individuals arriving in California before 1850, The Society has continuously served the academic community and public as a nonprofit organization under the leadership of several generations who are the direct descendants of its first members. The Society will reopen Pioneer Hall – their public museum, research library and administrative office currently located South of Market – in the new 101 Montgomery Street location this summer.

The Society offers free museum education programs for school-aged children and families, as well as public tours and events. Pioneer Hall features rotating exhibitions of art and artifacts drawn from The Society’s unique collections amassed over the last century and a half. The Alice Phelan Sullivan Research Library allows researchers and historians access to this privately held repository of rare books, photographs, maps and manuscripts.

The Society’s archives document the early history of California, including The Gold Rush, The Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and other defining events. Their collection includes rare manuscripts and diaries, paintings, prints and drawings, photographs, books, maps, newspapers and journals, the business ledgers of mining and transportation companies, historic artifacts and decorative objects, as well as biographical and other primary source materials.

Their extensive collection of overland and pioneer diaries includes those of John A. Sutter and a letter by Henry W. Bigler, both primary sources announcing the discovery of gold in California. The photography collection includes works by Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Lawrence & Houseworth and Turrill & Miller. The painting collection is particularly notable for its nineteenth century holdings and includes works by Thomas Hill, William Keith, Jules Tavernier and Maynard Dixon, among many others. Together with The Society’s extensive collection of ephemera and rare prints, these form a vivid, visual record of life in California over time.

Information about The Society’s museum exhibitions and public programs in Pioneer Hall will be posted at

Contact: John Hogan