The Autobiographies and Reminiscences are made up of 153 documents varying in length from one page to over sixty pages, the
average being around five pages in length. Most include details from the writer's early life, but the bulk of each document
tends to be their overland journeys or voyages to the Pacific Coast and California in pre-Gold Rush times and then accounts
of their lives after arrival. Many of the writer's - all are men - talk of their families, education, occupations before
and after arriving out West, as well as experiences mining, businesses, farming and ranching. Other aspects of their new
lives are discussed: law and politics, the military and wars, social events, agriculture, literature and theater, shipping
and leisure activities. The time period covered by the accounts is from the 1840s through 1904 - when the project was completed.
The geographic location discussed range from all over the United States: New England, New York, the south, the Midwest - especially
Missouri - and of course locations along both the overland trails to the West, as well as ports of call in South and Central
America. Many accounts are looking back at their lives, and some are accurate and others may or may not be embellished as
the writer relates a life some fifty or sixty years earlier.
The Society of California Pioneers is California's oldest historical organization, founded in 1850 by pre-Gold Rush pioneers.
The Society's original aims were "...to collect and preserve information connected with the early settlement and conquest
of the country, and to perpetuate the memory of those whose sagacity, enterprise, and love of independence induced them to
settle in the wilderness...". Toward the end of the 19th century, when many of the original members began passing away, the
Society's Historical Committee put out a call for "Autobiographies and Reminiscences" of its members. The members included
in the 154 reminiscences range from gold miners to farmers and businessmen to lumbermen, representing the broad range of men
who made up the early membership of the Society. Accounts relate the members' early lives, journeys out west, and finally
their lives in California and places beyond. Many were submitted by handwritten documents, but others appear to have been
dictated to the Committee. Each submission was then typed and all were bound into eight oversize volumes which still exist
today, as do sixty-three of the original handwritten accounts.
8 v. (1661 p.); 36 cm. and 63 items (755 leaves); 36 cm. or smaller.
152 online items
Copyright has not been assigned to The Society of California Pioneers. All requests for permission to publish or quote from
manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Society of
California Pioneers as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright
holder, which must be obtained by the reader.
Collection is open for research.