Room Six

Gold Rush Women

Anne Willson Booth sailed from Baltimore on her uncle's ship, the Andalusia. Her journal is a rich treasure of shipboard life with many descriptions of the passengers. It contains a detailed account of the physical aspects of the voyage, including longitude and latitude. Pasted into the journal is a sketch of Sutter's Fort that was drawn by a sailor on the Andalusia.

Anne W. Booth Journal
              Zoom In
Anne W. Booth Journal
BANC MSS C-F 197

After following her lover during the Mexican War and later to California, Eliza Allen ended up in gold rush California. As the cover states, "TRUTH STRANGER THAN FICTION." Much of the time Eliza dressed as a man to avoid the many problems that faced women in the 1840s and 1850s.

The Female Volunteer
              Zoom In
The Female Volunteer; or the Life, Wonderful Adventures and Miraculous Escapes of Miss Eliza Allen
p PS1098.I5F4 1851

Written by a United States soldier who served under Col. Stephenson in the New York Volunteer regiment, this letter tells of life in California, where he intends to stay for the rest of his life. Apparently not struck with gold fever, he has married into one of the Hispanic families and settled into the life of a rancher. He encourages his sister to come west and bring their brothers with her. He sends encouragement in the form of the news that there is a very great shortage of women in California and that she can make "from twenty to twenty five dollars a day" and "have all the chances of marrying rich."

Letter to his sister
              Zoom In
Letter to his sister
BANC MSS C-B 547 Box 4:187

In May of 1851 J. D. Borthwick embarked for California from New York, travelling by way of Panama. Borthwick was also an artist of some skill and his book is illustrated with eight of his own drawings. In the text following his drawing entitled "A Ball in the Mines," Borthwick comments on the lack of women in the mines: "The absence of ladies was a difficulty which was very easily overcome, by a simple arrangement whereby it was understood that every gentlemen who had a patch on a certain part of his inexpressibles should be considered a lady for the time being."

Three years in California
              Zoom In
Three years in California
F865.B7 1857
Read Online

Alonzo Delano, who wrote under the pen name "Old Block," originally wrote these sketches as newspaper columns. The Union reprinted them in 1853 and sold 16,000 copies which led to a second printing the next year. This particular sketch cheekily observes the rarity of women in the gold mining camps.

Pen Knife Sketches
              Zoom In
Pen Knife Sketches; or, Chips of the Old Block
x F865.D36


Copyright © 2011 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Document maintained by The Bancroft Library.
Last updated 08/15/11. Server manager: Contact