Oakland History Center

Oakland History Center

Welcome. We Brought the Big Balloon.

The Oakland History Center's mission is to collect, maintain and provide materials that tell the story of Oakland and the East Bay.
We offer reference services, lectures, educational programs, tours, and exhibits.
With the Oakland History Center, you can:
  • learn the history of your house or neighborhood
  • discover your local roots
  • examine themes in the social or political life of the Bay Area
and much more.

Temporary Closure

The Oakland History Center is temporarily closed for repairs along with the rest of the Main Library. Access to physical collections will not be available during the closure, but OHC staff are still available to help with your research needs and online sources.

OHC staff can be reached via email at eanswers@oaklandlibrary.org or by phone (voicemail only) at 510-238-3222.

Sources for the Study of Local History Include:

  • A locally generated subject index to articles in books and magazines
  • Newspaper clippings files
  • Indexes to 19th-century Oakland newspapers and to the Oakland Tribune beginning in 1978
  • An index to historic African-American newspapers
  • Historic documents and published materials from local government agencies and the Oakland Unified School District

Materials in the Oakland History Center do not circulate.

Images of Oakland, Emeryville, and Piedmont

Selected images from the Oakland History Center photograph and map collections are available in OPL Digital Collections and in the University of California's Online Archive of California.

Sources for Researching Oakland's Houses and Other Buildings Include:

  • Tax Assessor's block books for the City of Oakland proper, 1877-1925
  • A scattered set of Sanborn fire insurance maps of various periods between 1882 and 1951
  • The published portion of the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey
The "City of Oakland" balloon prepares for ascension at 14th and Franklin, with Professor Van der Naillen and Captain Park A. Van Tassell at the helm. August 14, 1909.

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Online Collections

Oakland History Center on Calisphere

The extensive photograph collection covers all aspects of East Bay life including historic buildings, neighborhoods, the harbor, and more.

Oakland History Center on California Revealed

Oral history recordings. Highlights include a lecture by James Baldwin, as well as interviews with former Black Panthers.

History on the Go

OHC's Overdrive collection.

Oakland History Center Video Archives (Calisphere)

Browse video archives from the Oakland History Center on Calisphere.

Want More Oakland History?Want More Oakland History?

We've got original content, articles, videos, photos, and more on our Oakland History page.
We've got original content, articles, videos, photos, and more on our Oakland History page.

Biographical and Genealogical Sources

  • Oakland city directories, 1869-1943
  • Alameda County voter registers, 1867-1944
  • California county histories
  • Oakland birth and death certificates, 1870-1904
  • Biographical files of Oakland and East Bay people
  • Obituaries, 1951-1993

Audio and Visual Media

The Oakland History Center maintains a small collection of documentaries, home movies, and recorded oral histories about Oakland. Partnering with California Revealed, a project of the California State Library, the Oakland History Center's diverse collection of rare and original media is now available to view on the Internet Archive. California Revealed strives to preserve all aspects of California on obsolete audio, film, and videotape formats.

OHC's Collection Includes:

  • books
  • journals
  • maps
  • photographs
  • community newsletters
  • manuscripts
  • oral histories
  • DVDs
  • scrapbooks
  • special collections curated by the OHC staff
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