History of SF State told through photos

Group of people in a room listening to live music.

Informal student dance held in the Gator Swamp, which was the University's recreation center where students could gather and relax.

University Archives, Associated Students and Academic Technology showcase SF State history through vintage photos

From its first Commencement in June 1901 to the Third World Liberation Front student strikes of 1968 right up to today, San Francisco State University has a rich history of innovative teaching, community engagement, student activism and much more. As an homage to San Francisco State’s unique heritage, the University Archives, Associated Students and Academic Technology teamed up for a project that tells the University’s timeless stories through vintage photos.

Called the Photographic Timeline Collection, this project highlights images of student life and activities at SF State throughout its history. In honor of World Photography Day today, here are a few photos from the collection that capture the University’s remarkable past.

SF State President Alexander C. Roberts addresses a crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Frederic Burk School, the teaching laboratory school, on March 31, 1928.

The earliest known student protest at SF State occurred in 1938 when students took to the streets to increase awareness of the fire hazards of wooden buildings. One placard reads “We want buildings not woodpiles.”

This yearbook frontispiece shows SF State students congregating by the windows in a campus building during World War II. In the foreground, a sign points the way to an air raid shelter in the basement.

With funding from the National Youth Administration, students were hired to clear willow trees and brush from the future site of the Lake Merced campus in 1940. SF State President Alexander C. Roberts is in the center of the photograph kneeling.

Two dormitories opened in August 1960: Mary Ward Hall for women and Merced Hall (later named Mary Park Hall) for men. Here, two students play chess while friends watch in one of the dormitories.

Student Louise Ow Ling performs a ribbon dance with three other dancers during International Week at SF State in the fall of 1963.

As part of the Third World Liberation Front strikes of 1968, students, community members and protestors conclude their rally with a march around the campus.

A student works on a project in the Wheeled Mobility Center, a wheelchair-building program established at SF State in 1989 by engineering professors Ralf Hotchkiss and Peter Phaelzer.