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Guide to the Alfred C. Thomas Letters, 1850-1851
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • History
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Alfred C. Thomas Letters,
    Date (inclusive): 1850-1851
    Creator: Thomas, Alfred C.
    Extent: 1 linear inch
    Repository: Henry Madden Library (California State University, Fresno).

    Sanoian Special Collections Library.
    Fresno, California
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Photocopies of the letters were donated by Ann Hopping in 1969.

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been transferred to California State University, Fresno. Permission to publish must be obtained from the Sherman Foundation, Corona del Mar, California.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Alfred C. Thomas Letters, Sanoian Special Collections Library, California State University, Fresno.


    The California gold rush began in 1848 after James W. Marshall's discovery of gold dust at John Sutter's sawmill at Coloma on the American River. This discovery prompted masses of people from all over the United States and the world to move West and seek their fortune. Alfred C. Thomas was one of them.

    Scope and Content

    The Alfred C. Thomas letters measure 1 inch and date from 1850 to 1851. There are thirty-four photocopied letters from Alfred C. Thomas to his family, the originals of which are at the Sherman Foundation, Corona del Mar, California. There are also typescripts of the letters.
    The first letter in the collection is from Thomas to his father at the start of his 112-day journey to San Francisco. There are eight letters which describe the different cities and countries he traveled through in order to reach his destination. The letters begin in Cincinnati, and describe his journey through Louisville, New Orleans, Panama, Tobago, Monterey, and finally, Ophir (Mariposa County) and San Francisco.
    The letters from San Francisco document how Thomas supported himself financially while mining for gold. In addition, there are details about his diet, friends, and the various deadly diseases that were common in San Francisco at the time.