Introduction | Discovery | The Journey | In the Diggings and Towns | Those Who Came
Those Who Stayed Behind | Gold Rush Women | Families | Framed Art

Eadweard Muybridge
Celestial Diggins, Mongolian Flat, in 1849. Stereograph.
San Francisco: Bradley & Rulofson.

The term "celestial" was commonly used during the gold rush to refer to the Chinese population of California, which increased dramatically beginning in 1852. Mongolian Flat is not listed in Gudde's California Gold Camps and the exact location of this photograph is unknown.

Edward Austin
Letter from Sacramento to his brother George.
September 21, 1849.

Edward Austin came to California and began selling needed supplies to the miners. His letters provide insight to the hardware requirements of the gold rush. Austin was quite explicit in stating his needs for manufactured goods. Note the sketch in the middle of the page showing the design of the shovel heads and the two sketches at the top detailing the requirement for gold scales.

Gold Hunter Company
Gold Hunter Company Agreement. Manuscript.
Vassalboro, Maine: December 4, 1849.

Henry Springer, one of the original members of the company, retained this copy of their agreement. The agreement was drawn up for the formation of a company to construct a steamboat to be placed into service on the Sacramento River.

Belgium. Charge d'Affaires
Passport for Jean-Nicolas Perlot. Manuscript.
September 12, 1850.

In 1850 a twenty-six year old Belgian left Europe to come to California and make his fortune in the gold fields.This document issued on the 12th of September, 1850 allowed Perlot to embark on his adventure. The accompanying carte de visite was taken of Perlot in 1848.

Jean-Nicolas Perlot
Vie et Aventures d'un Enfant de l'Ardenne.
Arlon: F. Bruck, 1897.

Jean-Nicolas Perlot did not publish his memoirs until 1897, but his observations on the gold rush contain much valuable information, as seen through the eyes of an European miner. Unfortunately his book lay in obscurity until Helen Harding Bretnor, a member of the Bancroft Library staff, published an English translation in 1985, thus opening up Perlot's gold rush commentary to a much wider audience.

Britton & Rey
Miner A. B. C.
San Francisco: 1856.

This letter sheet contains twenty five letters of the alphabet, each with an accompanying two line poem in German.

John A. Bauer
Statement of John A. Bauer, A Pioneer of 1849.
San Francisco, 1877.

Trained as a pharmacist in Brunswick, Germany, John Bauer came to California in October, 1849. This document was part of the original Bancroft Collection and was used in Hubert Howe Bancroft's writing of his History of California. After a short and unsuccessful venture in mining, Bauer returned to San Francisco and opened up the first German drugstore in California. He lost everything in the May 3, 1850 San Francisco fire. Later Bauer became the Treasurer of San Francisco.

Bruno Schmolder
Neuer Pratischer Wegwieser fur Auswanderer nach Nord-Amerika....
Mainz: Le Roux'sche Hofbuchhandlung, 1849.

Written as an encouragement for Germans to emigrate to the United States, the author wrote this book after crossing the plains in 1843 and working with John Sutter to promote colonization. A first edition was published in 1848. The map of Suttersville appears as part of Schmolder's plan with Sutter to develop the Sutter properties at New Helvitia. In time many Germans came to California in search of gold and to escape the 1848 revolutions in Europe.

Daniel W. Fessenden
Letter to Ogden Hoffman, Jr.
Santa Clara, April 22, 1851.

The gold rush to California brought great pressure on the United States Congress to admit California as a state. This was done on September 9, 1850. This provided many new opportunities for job seekers as can be seen in the request in this letter for the Commissionership in Sacramento or the Clerkship in Stockton.

Alonzo Delano
The Idle and Industrious Miner.
Sacramento: James Anthony & Co., Publishers, 1854.

Based on William Hogarth's Rake's Progress, this poem explores the virtues of hard work as opposed to the destruction of drink and gambling. The idle miner meets his end at the hand of the law, while the industrious miner returns home to his family with riches. The illustrations were done by Charles Nahl who become one of the foremost illustrators and painters in California.

G. A. Fleming
California: Its Past History; Its Present Position; Its Future Prospects.
London: Printed for the Booksellers, 1850.

With its practical information on conditions in California, this book appealed to potential English gold miners. Although much of the text has been borrowed from other accounts published at the time, the hand-tinted illustrations provide a special pleasure. On the left hand page is "Emigrant Party on the Road to California," and on the right hand page is "Scene on a Branch of the Sacramento."

Gids Naar California.
Amsterdam: J. H. en G. Van Heteren, 1849.

This Dutch guidebook by an unnamed author provided the necessary information for miners heading to California from the Netherlands. According to Carl I. Wheat, the unfolded map, Goud Streeken van California, was a copy of a map that appeared in the English publication Guide to California published by Effingham Wilson in London in 1849. The only difference between them is the translation of many of the names into Dutch.

G. K. Blok
Kratkoe Geofrafichesko-statisticheskoe Opisanie Kalifornii....
S. Petersburg: Morskaia Tipografia, 1850.

The Russians also published a guidebook for the use of their citizens. Russia had just ended a colonization effort in California in 1841 when they sold the Ross Colony, in current day Marin and Sonoma Counties, to John Sutter for the equivilent of $30,000. During the time that the Russian American Company was in California they were able to send parties as far east as the Sierra foothills and therefore had a fairly good knowledge of the geography. The map displayed from the guide shows ten insets of California, including San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate, Monterey Bay, San Diego Bay and the gold fields. At the time of the gold rush Russians were still occupying Alaska.

Hubert Howe Bancroft
Photograph, ca. 1852.

Bancroft left New York by steamer on February 24, 1852, arriving in San Francisco, via the Isthmus of Panama, on April 1. Though not quite twenty, Bancroft had been entrusted with an important consignment of books and stationery to sell for his brother-in-law, George H. Derby. The books were shipped by clipper around the Horn. While awaiting the arrival of the shipment, Bancroft and George L. Kenny, mined at Long Bar and clerked at Rich Bar.

William Thurston
Guide to the Gold Regions of Upper California.
London: J. and D. A. Darling, 1849.

One of the many English guide books to be published following the gold discovery, Thurston's guide contained the requsite first hand accounts reprinted from other sources, including the official report of Col. Mason to President Polk.

J. Rapkin
Mexico, California and Texas.
London: John Tallis & Company, ca. 1850.

This attactive hand colored map with its vignette of California miners also shows the location of the newly discovered California gold fields.

Adams & Co. Express Building.
Daguerreotype, by unknown photographer. ca. 1850-ca. 1854.

The Adams & Co. Express building provides the central point in this dauguerreotype. Of particular interest, however, are the unidentified people and the French restaurant on the right. The location is presumably a California gold rush town, and a poster announcing "GOLD" can be seen on the left.

Willam M'Ilvaine, Jr.
Sketches of Scenery and Notes of Personal Adventure, in California and Mexico. Containing Sixteen Lithographic Plates.
Philadelphia: 1850.

William M'Ilvaine spent five months in California. His original sketches were among the earliest published. The text provides an expanation for the lithographs. It is open to an illustration of "Kanaka Creek" named after the Hawaiian miners in the area. Large numbers of Hawaiians were in California at the beginning of the gold rush, many working for John Sutter.

Henry Valentine
California; or, The Feast of Gold.
London: R. MacDonald, nd.

This comic English song poked fun at the California gold rush. The cover illustrates the many different cultures and nationalities that arrived in California.

William Redmond Ryan
Avonturen, Gedurende een Tweejarig Verblijf in Californië...
Haarlem: A. C. Kruseman, 1850.

This is the Dutch edition of Ryan's English edition published in London. The Dutch edition has finer plates to illustrate the text. The bottom plate exhibited shows Sonorans (Mexico) dry washing gold. Dry washing was a technique that the Mexicans had perfected, which proved to be useful in the Southern mines of the California gold region.

James Williams
Life and Adventures of James Williams, A Fugitive Slave, With a Full Description of the Underground Railroad.
Sacramento: 1874.

This narrative relates the life of James Williams. Williams had escaped slavery in Maryland and eventually worked his way to California. Using his earnings in the gold fields, Williams opened a restaurant in Sacramento. The book tells of the hardships faced by the African-American population in California during the nineteenth century.

Hypolite Ferry
Description de la Nouvelle Californie: Geographique, Politique et Morale.
Paris: Editeur des Guides Richard, 1850.

French speaking miners also had their guide to gold mining in California. Hypolite Ferry provided useful information along with several maps and illustrations. The maps were the work of Alexis Orgiazzi and the illustrations were engraved by Cuthwaite. The book is open to a very fine map of the Isthmus of Panama.

Alfred Henry Forrester
A Goodnatured Hint About California.
London: D. Bogue, 1849.

Forrester authored this cartoon book under the pseudonym Alfred Crowquill. Unlike the majority of the publications of the day, A Goodnatured Hint About California takes on the negative side of the gold rush. The central character, Mivins, heads to California and experiences many unfortunate situations. Eventually he must work his way home as a common seaman after losing what little he made in the gold fields. The illustrations are hand colored.
Introduction | Discovery | The Journey | In the Diggings and Towns | Those Who Came
Those Who Stayed Behind | Gold Rush Women | Families | Framed Art


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