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Ralph P. Bieber Photographs of the Overland Trail: Finding Aid
photCL 469  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Related materials in the Huntington Library
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: Ralph P. Bieber Photographs of the Overland Trail
    Dates (inclusive): 1950s-1960s
    Collection Number: photCL 469
    Creator: Bieber, Ralph P. (Ralph Paul), 1894- photographer.
    Extent: 726 photographs in 13 boxes + 3 pieces of ephemera in 1 envelope.
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Photo Archives
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The collection contains photographs by historian Ralph P. Bieber (1894-1891) documenting the central overland route to California as it appeared in the 1950s. The images show the route through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California that was used by pioneers and gold seekers beginning in the mid-19th century. Bieber also created categories such as "Donner Party sites," "Gold Discovery Sites," and "Sites associated with John C. Fremont."
    Language: English.
    Note:
    Finding aid last updated on April 8, 2015.

    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], Ralph P. Bieber Photographs of the Overland Trail, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Provenance

    Gift of Ralph P. Bieber's son, William P. Bieber, in 1986.

    Custodial History

    Transferred from the Manuscript Department, December 2004.

    Processing/Project Information

    Photo Archives volunteer Jane Apostol rehoused the collection and prepared the container list portion of the finding aid in 2005. Diann Benti updated and created and created a machine readable version of the finding aid in March 2015.

    Biographical Note

    Ralph P. Bieber (1894-1981) was a historian of the American West who served on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis for many years. Between 1931 and 1940, Bieber edited the Southwest Historical Series for publisher Arthur H. Clark. As a result of his editorial duties, Bieber became increasingly fascinated with the great migration to California during the Gold Rush era. He ultimately began a project of his own to document the overland experience during the critical first year of the Gold Rush. He ferreted out thousands of sources, taking voluminous and highly-detailed notes that comprise the manuscript portion of his collection. He also made several trips along the central route to California, and the photographs here are the result of trips taken in the 1950s.

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains photographs by historian Ralph P. Bieber documenting the central overland route to California as it appeared in the 1950s. Bieber visited the sites in conjunction with a project to record every aspect of the trails and circumstances associated with the migration of people to California during the Gold Rush years and subsequently. The images document the route through Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and California. Bieber organized and annotated the photographs himself, and his original order, based primarily on print size, has been maintained. Additionally, Bieber created photographic categories such as “Donner Party Sites,” “Gold Discovery Sites,” and “Sites associated with John C. Frémont.” Note that Bieber did not arrange the photographs geographically.

    Related materials in the Huntington Library

    The Huntington also holds a large collection of research files (approximately 50 boxes) assembled by Ralph P. Bieber in the course of editing the Southwest Historical Series for the Arthur H. Clark Company and undertaking a book (never completed) on the first year of the California Gold Rush. Researchers who wish to obtain more information about the research files should contact the H. Russell Smith Foundation Curator of Western Historical Manuscripts.

    Arrangement

    The collection is organized first by size of the photograph (8 x 10 in., 11 x 14 in., 3.5 x 5.5 in.) and then alphabetically by location name within each size.

    Indexing Terms

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

    Subjects

    Overland journeys to the Pacific -- History -- Photographs.
    California -- Gold Discoveries -- History -- Photographs.
    Overland Trails -- Photographs.

    Forms/Genres

    Photographs.