Collection Details

William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection

William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection

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Capturing the rich history of the early twentieth century, the William M. McCarthy Photograph Collection (Identification #96-07-08) highlights well-known landmarks, historic events, and scenic vistas from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, from the Deep South to Canada, and from Mexico to Cuba. Scenes across the Golden State are captured in stunning shots from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite and the Central Coast to Southern California cities. The collection features nearly 3,000 photographs taken by native Californians William M. and Grace McCarthy from approximately 1905 to 1938. The McCarthys traveled extensively during the early years of automobile travel, as newly constructed highways connected people and places throughout the United States and beyond, providing pictorial documentation of a pivotal period in our nation's history. William M. McCarthy (1876 – 1956) and Grace C. Kane (1878 – 1957) wed in the early 1900s and lived in San Francisco for most of their lives where William was stationed as an armament expert for the U.S. War Department. The collection features photographs of the McCarthys' travels, as well as the many family members and friends they encountered along the way. Always ready with his camera, William McCarthy also captured remarkable images of significant events, including shots of San Francisco before and after the 1906 earthquake, the fire that destroyed that city's iconic Cliff House in 1907, the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and their 1938 journey into Mexico along the newly constructed Pan American Highway. The original black and white photographs, mounted in eleven albums, make up one of the few private collections preserved by the California State Archives. The entire collection was digitized by the State Archives' curatorial staff. To request a high-resolution scan of one or more of these images, contact the California State Archives at or (916) 653-2246. Please include the Title or Identifier for each photograph in which you are interested, as well as the desired format (tiff, jpg, pdf) and resolution (DPI) for the requested scan. Duplication fees will apply. DISCLAIMER The views, opinions, and positions expressed by the creators of the materials presented (William and Grace McCarthy) are theirs alone. As noted in image descriptions, certain photographs are restricted or have been cropped due to sensitive content deemed unsuitable for online distribution.


California State Archives, a division of the California Secretary of State's Office