Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gold before statehood!


Forty-Niners ‘Round the Horn by Charles R. Schultz. Columbia, south Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1999. Illustrations, Bibliographes, Indexes.

Charles Schultz’s Forty-Niners ‘Round the Horn describes the social history of gold seekers who had chosen to sail to reach California mine regions from the east coast of North America. Rather than take overland routes, which, although better known, were reputed to have disastrous consequences for some of the seekers, the gold seekers easily sought passage on one of the vessels bound for the west coast, sailing there by way of Cape Horn.

Schultz prepared this volume from researching diaries and letters written on many voyages. His chapters are organized by theme, as “Preparations”, “Underway at Last”, “Food and Drink”, “Weather Problems”, “People Problems”, etc., provide the setting for his portrayal. His notes section, as well as the bibliography, is extensive. Both support quotations he uses for details of the 6-month-long passages to the port of San Francisco. Illustrations from Harper’s Weekly, Century Magazine, books on California history, posters, and journal illustrations provide views of daily lives and amusements.

The author depicts “… how passengers lived on board the sailing vessels in which they traveled… the observance of Sundays, holidays and special days such as birthdays and anniversaries” on such vessels as the ELVIRA, the DANIEL WEBSTER, the LENORE, the JANE PARKER, and the HENRY WARE, and many more ships sailing from Boston or New York and other Atlantic Coast ports. As thousands of discreet details are represented here, the vessel index in Forty-niners and general index give ships’ names, personal and corporate names and offers many ways to locate information within the text.

Online sources of more information about the gold seekers:

The Open Directory Project
is a web portal of sites relevant to this period.
Huntington Library’s website offers many illustrations from the period of 1848-1858 showing lifestyle and the business of gold seeking in Land of Golden Dreams, California in the Gold Rush Decade, 1848-1858.
Read more personal histories of gold seekers.

Los Angeles Maritime Museum Volunteers:

At the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, volunteers answer questions at the front desk, give museum tours, operate the tug ANGELS GATE, use the Morse code, build ship models, and staff The Sea Chest, the museum’s gift shop.

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