Photo archive project documents history of the Filipino community in SF

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — This is a picture of the Gran Oriente Filipino Masonic Fraternity at the Whitcomb Hotel in 1924.

It was found among possessions left behind by a tenant who moved out of their room in San Francisco.

The picture will now be a part of a project documenting the evolution of the Filipino community in San Francisco from the 1920’s to today.

The project is called “Kodakan Photo Day: Shades of San Francisco,” and was a collaboration with the SF public library and the SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage district.

“This project is modeled after a project they started in LA called Shades of LA,” said photo curator Christina Moretta. “So then we started it as Shades of San Francisco, and that started in 1998, and we first focused on neighborhoods.”

Filipino residents of the city were encouraged to bring in pictures of their families, social groups, political organizations; basically anything that showed how Filipinos were living out their days as San Franciscans — something some Filipinos believe is not well known.

“We have been here since the turn of the century, but nevertheless our presence in the San Francisco archives is not well known, because our community has not donated or provided the library with pictures,” said  MC Canalas, Historical Committee of SOMA Pilipinas.

After an interview about the context of each selected photograph, it was then scanned and returned to the owners.

The project will also aid researchers, writers, filmmakers, teachers and students to paint an accurate picture of daily life in the Filipino community.

“People can download the photos for free. Anyone can use it for their website, social media, or share them, or create an online exhibit if they want to… we’ll probably collect 300 photos or so, and they all go online in our database so the world can see them.”

While having the archive online, the San Francisco History Center hopes to also publish a book featuring all of the selected pictures.



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