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David F. Selvin photograph collection

Identifier: larc-pho-0019

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of photographs gathered by Selvin in his role as editor of Northern Califonia Labor, a labor newspaper he founded in 1951. Other photographs were used in several books and articles Selvin authored related to labor history, in particular, his 1996 book, A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco.

Many of the photographs in this collection are reprints from various repositories including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, Wayne State University, the U.S. Bureau of Mines, and the California Historical Society.


  • 1861-1991
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1980



Collection is open for research.


Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives and Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives and Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Biographical note

David Selvin (1913-2007) was a noted labor journalist, historian, author and activist. Selvin was working on a M.A. in Labor Economics at the University of California, Berkeley, when the 1934 Waterfront and General Strike shut down the docks in San Francisco. He later wrote about this period in his book, A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco. In 1951, after writing about labor issues for various San Francisco-based newspapers, Selvin took a job at the San Francisco Labor Council as editor ofNorthern California Labor, a position he held for nearly 30 years. Selvin authored several books about labor history and labor leaders, includingSky Full of Storm: A Brief History of California Labor, A Place in the Sun: History of Californian Labor,The Other San Francisco, and The Thundering Voice of John L. Lewis. Selvin was also involved in the formation of both the Labor Studies program and the Labor Archives and Research Center at San Francisco State University.


5.5 Cubic Feet ( (10 boxes and 1 oversize box))

Language of Materials



Arranged in five series: Series 1, Unions, is arranged alphabetically by union name. Series 2, General Subjects, is arranged alphabetically by subject. Series 3, Individuals and Groups, is arranged alphabetically by individual's last name. Series 4, Published Works, and Series 5, Miscellany, are arranged as received.


Vault: 01:02:D-F; 13:03:D (oversize box 1)


Photographs were donated with the David Selvin papers in 1985, accession number 1985/002.

Format of Materials

The bulk of the materials comprise black and white prints of various sizes. Also includes negatives, contact sheets, and half-tone prints as well as correspondence pertaining to Selvin's aquisition of some of the photographs.

Processing Information

Processed by Labor Archives and Research Center staff; revised by Frances Wratten Kaplan in 2016.

Finding Aid to the David F. Selvin Photograph Collection
Frances Wratten Kaplan
2000, revised 2016.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in: English.

Repository Details

Part of the Labor Archives and Research Center Repository

San Francisco State University
J. Paul Leonard Library, Room 460
1630 Holloway Ave
San Francisco 94132-1722 USA
(415) 405-5571