Jul 5, 2023 - News

San Francisco's city archivist retires after 28-year tenure

Photo of Susan Goldstein holding an archival book while she smiles at the camera

Susan Goldstein helped bring the San Francisco Public Library's archives into the digital age. Image courtesy of Susan Goldstein

Susan Goldstein, a familiar face to many in the Bay, is retiring after 28 years as the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL)'s city archivist.

Why it matters: Goldstein has played a critical role in preserving San Francisco in all its facets. During her tenure she has expanded public access to record collections and helped SFPL move into the digital age.

Catch up quick: Goldstein came to the library after working as an archivist for Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and at the Labor Archives & Research Center at San Francisco State University.

  • At SFPL, she mainly focused on collecting and maintaining city records, but she also worked with community members and neighborhood groups to preserve their materials.
  • Under her leadership, the library implemented manuscript-finding aids, joined the Online Archive of California and established an internship program.

"It's the end of an era," city librarian Michael Lambert said in a statement.

  • "Susan Goldstein brought an inclusive, social history lens to the curation of our treasured San Francisco History Center collections ... Her legacy will live on in perpetuity."

What she's saying: In an interview with Axios, Goldstein emphasized that the archives aren’t "a dark, little dusty place where nobody can go" but rather an ongoing interaction between the community. SFPL strives to capture San Francisco — good and bad, she said.

  • "People have said, 'San Francisco has always been liberal.' Yet here I have all this restrictive governance from people where they didn't let Asians or Blacks live in their neighborhoods," she pointed out.
  • "I feel like I could go on and on," she added. "It's kind of amazing how these little pockets of historical records turn up throughout the city."

"To be able to point out our history and have people know it and understand it I think is so important," she said.

Some notable collections from Goldstein's tenure:


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