Library and Archive Collections

The Ethel Ray Nance and Elena Albert Library and Archives

Langston Hughes
Lanston Hughes inscription
Spanish Civil War


SFAAHCS maintains a non-circulating library of books, journals, pamphlets and audio-visual materials written by and/or about African Americans, African American history, culture, art, life and contributions to society. It contains many first and unique editions and rare books depicting African and United States history, reference materials, rare political, war effort and anti-racist pamphlets, print copies of unique journals, magazines, newspapers, etc., fiction, poetry, other non-fiction, books for juveniles, and a variety of audio-visual materials.

The library is accessible during Society operating hours, or by appointment.


The archive contains unique items of historical significance to African American history, arts, life, and culture dating from the mid-1800’s. Since 1955, art, family memorabilia, photos, and the papers and keepsakes of prominent African Americans, including Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, prominent publisher and politician, the Reverend Dr. Howard Thurman, noted theologian and founder of the first interracial church, and his wife, Sue Bailey Thurman, historian and Society supporter, and James Herndon, co-founder of the Society and Civil Rights lawyer and activist, have been collected and added to the archive. The archive has served as a primary resource for graduate students and researchers, including Dr. Alvin Broussard and Paul Miller, who have written definitive books about San Francisco African American history.

The archive is accessible to researchers by appointment and on a case-case basis.

Fang, Gabon
Fang, Gabon
mid-to-late 20th century


Donations to the Library and Archive are welcome. Potential donations will be assessed against current library acquisition goals and policies; the Society reserves the right to refuse any donation. Donations are considered tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

*****Archive Project*****

Society members seeking to assist in the archive assessment project are encouraged to contact the office for more information. Help us inventory the archive in order to make it more accessible to researchers and our Society members.

To learn more about donations to the Society’s archives and library collections, or to volunteer for the archive project, contact us by phone or email.

Phone: 415-282-6172