A Year of Mud and Gold


A Year of Mud and Gold

San Francisco in Letters and Diaries, 1849-1850

Edited by William Benemann

241 pages
Illustration, map


October 2003


$18.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

A Year of Mud and Gold is a collection of over two hundred excerpts from letters and diaries of ordinary men and women caught up in the rapid transformation of San Francisco during its gold rush heyday, 1849–50. Together these accounts render a rich mosaic of San Francisco’s metamorphosis from a small Mexican outpost into a rough-and-tumble boomtown filled with gamblers and prostitutes, evangelists and entrepreneurs—men, women, and children from all parts of the world, arriving in California with the dream of striking it rich.
The correspondents come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds. Some are barely literate, while others write as well as the finest authors of nineteenth-century travel literature. Their writings address a broad range of concerns, from business prospects and consumer prices to social mores and popular amusements. The letters and diaries also hold clues to processes central to frontier history: the Americanization of Hispanic California, the stresses that migration placed on individuals and families, the fluidity of boomtown economies, and the nature of gender and race relations in an urban population of immigrants.

Author Bio

William Benemann is the archivist for Boalt Hall Law School Library and a former librarian at the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

Also of Interest