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Comstock Lode Collection: Finding Aid
mssComstock Lode collection  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Comstock Lode Collection
    Dates (inclusive): 1867-1923
    Bulk dates: 1875-1894
    Collection Number: mssComstock Lode collection
    Extent: 898 items in 13 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists primarily of legal documents related to the economic and social history of late 19th century Virginia City, Nevada, with some materials showing economic connections between Virginia City and San Francisco, California, as well as inter-state relations between Nevada and California. These documents are related to specific court cases (most filed with the First Judicial District State of Nevada) from a variety of different law suits including: mining companies suing one another over the uses of resources such as water, building material, railroads, roads and tunnels; and employees suing their employers for wages or injury compensation.
    Language: English.

    Access

    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Comstock Lode Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Purchased from Neil Weinstein, May 9, 1975.

    Historical Note

    The Comstock Lode, composed of silver and gold ore, was discovered in the 1850s. It was located in western Nevada (then Utah Territory). The discovery of silver and gold attracted numerous people consisting of proprietors, miners, journalists (including Mark Twain, who came in 1861 and left in 1864), as well as investments from speculators. This Comstock rush quickly created a city called Virginia City. While the Comstock Lode yielded a tremendous value of silver and gold (more than the California Gold Rush), it was drained by the late 1870s and many mines were closed by the early 1880s. It is worth noting that the materials in this collection were created in the decline of the mining industry in and around Virginia City in the last quarter of the 19th century.
    The Consolidated Virginia Mining Company and California Mining Company are prominent in the collection. The former was established in 1867, while the latter was incorporated in 1873.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains 898 items. The material is chiefly related to the economic and social history of late 19th century Virginia City, Nevada; some materials show economic connections between Virginia City and San Francisco as well as inter-state relations between Nevada and California. The collection is 90% legal documents. These documents are related to specific court cases (most filed with the First Judicial District State of Nevada). They are grouped case by case and contained in Boxes 1-11. Other types of legal documents, including deeds, indentures, and agreements, are housed in Box 12. Finally, miscellaneous legal documents share Box 13 with non-legal documents, a letter, and ephemera. The items in each series are in chronological order.
    Although the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company and California Mining Company are prominent in the collection, the collection includes documents related to more than 50 other mining companies (too numerous to list here). The documents comes from a variety of different law suits including: mining companies suing one another over the uses of resources such as water, building material, railroads, roads and tunnels; and employees suing their employers for wages or injury compensation.
    Whereas the collection includes plenty of sources related to the mining industry, it also provides a good opportunity to look into people’s lives in Virginia City in the late 19th century. There are legal documents regarding divorces, conflicts over bills, rent, and property; several of the court cases involve Chinese citizens of Virginia City. There are also several documents related to the commitments of mentally ill people.
    Moreover, the fact that some corporations and dealers located in California, including Belcher Silver Mining Company, Occidental Consolidated Mining Company, Holbrook, Merrill & Co, and Shea, Bocqueraz, and McKee, show up in the court cases, whether as plaintiffs or defendants, suggests that there were economic connections through the movements of capital and goods between San Francisco and Virginia City. In this point, this collection is invaluable to the study of the ways in which the regional economy of the Southwest developed through the movement of capital, goods, mining products, etc.
    Finally, the brief guide of Comstock Lode and the map of the Comstock and Brunswick Lodes placed in the Ephemera folder give some general and quick information of the trajectory of the mining industry and location of the mining claims, although they were printed in the early 20th century, later than the period in which most documents in this collection were created.

    Arrangement

    Arranged in the following order:
    • Legal Documents regarding Court Cases (Boxes 1-11)
    • Applications, Certificates, Commitments, Deeds, etc. (Box 12)
    • Miscellaneous Legal Documents, Non-legal Documents, Letters, and Ephemera (Box 13)

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  

    Subjects

    California Mining Company (Virginia City, Nev.)
    Consolidated Virginia Mining Company.
    Chinese -- Nevada.
    Gold mines and mining -- Nevada.
    Mines and mineral resources -- Nevada.
    Mining corporations -- California.
    Mining corporations -- Nevada.
    Silver mines and mining -- Nevada.
    Comstock Lode (Nev.) -- History -- Sources.
    Nevada -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
    Virginia City (Nev.) -- History -- Sources.

    Forms/Genres

    Deeds -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Indentures -- Nevada -- 19th century.
    Legal documents -- Nevada -- 19th century.