Guide to the Theressa Gay Papers , 1946-1960

Department of Special Collections
Green Library
Stanford University Libraries
Stanford, CA 94305-6004
Phone: (650) 725-1022
© 1999
The Board of Trustees of Stanford University. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Theressa Gay Papers , 1946-1960

Collection number: M0274

Department of Special Collections and University Archives

Stanford University Libraries

Stanford, California

Contact Information

  • Department of Special Collections
  • Green Library
  • Stanford University Libraries
  • Stanford, CA 94305-6004
  • Phone: (650) 725-1022
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Special Collections staff
Date Completed:
ca. 1992
© 1999 The Board of Trustees of Stanford University. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Theressa Gay Papers ,
Date (inclusive): 1946-1960
Collection number: Special Collections M0274
Creator: Gay, Theressa.
Extent: 10.5 linear ft.
Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions


Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


Gift of Theressa Gay, ca. 1975.

Preferred Citation:

[Identification of item] Theressa Gay Papers , M0274, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

Biographical Note

Theressa Gay was born on Febrary 3rd, 1894 in Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin. She moved to Wyoming shortly after graduation and lived in several western states including Montana and California. She did graduate work at the University of Montana on the history of the trans-Mississippi West. She received her M.A. from the University of California, studying under Dr. Herbert E. Bolton. She wrote her Master's thesis on the Establishment of Territorial Government in Montana. She also did post-graduate work at Stanford University under Dr. Edgar Robinson.
Her varied professional career has included teaching, doing library work, and, most notably, performing research for her own publications and on the behalf of other history scholars. She taught high school history in various towns in Montana and Washington; in California, at Berkeley High School and at Castilleja School in Palo Alto. She has also worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Montana and at Stanford University. She also taught English as a Second Language for the Palo Alto Adult Education Program. She also worked as a school librarian and held several library staff positions, including Stanford University, when she was not teaching or working on research projects.
Theressa Gay's most significant professional accomplishments were her contributions to the field of historical scholarship, most significantly to that of the history of the California Gold Rush. Her book, James W. Marshall, the Discoverer of California Gold (Georgetown, Calif.: Talisman Press, 1967), represents the culmination of more than thirty years of research. Those familiar with the history of the California Gold Rush, are aware that James Marshall's discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill resulted in one of the greatest gold rushes in modern history. This event which had enormous consequences for the economic and social history of the State of California, has had more written about it than any other single event in California history. However, until Theressa Gay's biography was published in 1967, only one other biography had been written about James Marshall. The first book was an official biography which was written at Marshall's request in order to pay the debts that he had incurred in his later years. According to reviews that were written after the publication of her biography in 1967, Ms. Gay's biography is well-documented and does much to dispell the myths and half-truths that surrounded Marshall and his life. This work goes well beyond being a simple biography, and gives scholars a detailed insight into life during a significant period in California history.
In addition to the biography on Marshall, Ms. Gay also published a book entitled Life and Letters of Mrs. Jason Lee, First Wife of Reverend Jason Lee of the Oregon Mission (Portland, Or.: Metropolitan Press, 1936); and number of periodical articles, including, The California and Australia Gold Rushes, As Seen by Amos S. Pittman. She also collected songs from the Gold Rush which were written by gold miners, popular song writers of the day and by dance-hall entertainers, from 1848 to 1855. This was an independent project during which she collected about two hundred songs. These songs, as well as research and manuscript material used by Ms. Gay in preparing her publications, form the core of her personal papers collection.

Scope and Content

The bulk of this collection consists mainly of research notes, correspondence and manuscript material pertaining to Theressa Gay's historical research on the California Gold Rush. This collection also includes materials relating to other areas of historical research as well (see contents listings for specific topics); some biographical material and teaching files. The focus of this collection are the original manuscript of Thressa Gay's biography of James W. Marshall, and a group of about two hundred Gold Rush Songs that she collected. The papers in this collection reflect her work over a period of approximately fifteen years, from about 1946 to 1960. It comprises about ten and a half linear feet of material.

Series Description



Scope and Content Note

The first series contains biographical notes and partial listings of Ms. Gay's professional experiences. Also included is a datebook/calendar from 1947.


Scope and Content Note

The second series consists of Ms. Gay's correspondence; mostly incoming correspondence, but some copies of outgoing correspondence as well. Most of the letters pertain to inquiries regarding research on the California Gold Rush, but a small number deal with other topics as well. There is personal correspondence included here as well, but these letters often also pertain to Ms. Gay's research. Some of the individual correspondents include Warren T. Russell, a Gold Rush historian; and Hesley S. Davis and Mother Lee, descendants of several of Ms. Gay's research subjects.


Scope and Content Note

The third series contains the songs collected by Ms. Gay, on the California Gold Rush. The songs are filed in alphabetical order by title. Also included is Ms. Gay's Plan for Work, which outlines her collecting strategy. A complete alphabetical listing of the songs colleced by Ms. Gay is included here, as well as research and bibliographic notes.


Scope and Content Note

The fourth series contains the original, handwritten manuscript for Ms. Gay's biography of James W. Marshall. Also included are a number of chapter revisions from the manuscript, and a periodical review of the biography from the California Historical Quarterly.


Scope and Content Note

The fifth series contains the bulk of the collection. It is divided according to subject area, and then is subdivided by specific topic. The first section consist of research notes for the James Marshall biography: some of the folder headings in this section reflect chapter titles from the Marshall biography. The section which follows consists of Gold Rush material, some of which overlaps with material on James Marshall. Other sections in theis series include: California--Other Topics; Miscellaneous Topics (which includes research notes on the history of the Pacific Northwest, on American Politics of the 20th Century, and other miscellaneous topics.)


Scope and Content Note

The sixth series consists primarily of course materials and notes from two history courses for which Theressa Gay was a teaching assistant at Stanford University's History Department. These courses included History 132 (The Westward Movement) and History 169 (The History of California.) Also included is one item from the Adult Education course that she taught for the Palo Alto Unified School District.


Scope and Content Note

The seventh series contains pamphlets, fliers, tourist maps, newsclippigs and other printed materials that Theressa Gay collected during the course of her research. Of particular interest are the various pamphlets and fliers relating to the California Gold Rush, and 20th century political campaign materials. This series also includes periodicals and newpaper articles pertaining to Theressa Gay's historical research; and history book trade list publications that were used as sources for research materials.


Scope and Content Note

The final series of this collection consists of a variety of photographic materials, including black and white photographs, negative photostats and microfilm. Most of these materials pertain to the James Marshall, or the California Gold Rush, but photographs having to do with other subject matter is also included.

Container List



Box 1, Folder 1,2

Biographical and resume notes

Box 1, Folder 3

Datebook/Calendar from 1947




Incoming (1946 to 1960):

Box 1, Folder 4


Box 1, Folder 5


Box 1, Folder 6


Box 1, Folder 7


Box 1, Folder 8


Box 1, Folder 9-10


Box 1, Folder 11

Hensley S. Davis

Box 1, Folder 12

Mother Lee

Box 1, Folder 13

Evelyn Mick

Box 1, Folder 14

Gerald D. Nash

Box 1, Folder 15-16

Warren T. Russell

Box 2, Folder 1-3

Warren T. Russell


Outgoing (1947-1960):

Box 2, Folder 4-5

Copies of outgoing correspondence (by date)

Box 2, Folder 6




Box 2, Folder 7-8

Plan for Work and List of Songs, A-Z

Box 2, Folder 9-10

Songs, A--C

Box 2, Folder 11-12

Songs, D-F

Box 2, Folder 13-14

Songs, G-I

Box 2, Folder 15

Songs, J-L

Box 2, Folder 16-17

Songs, M-O

Box 2, Folder 18-19

Songs, P-R

Box 2, Folder 20

Songs, S-U

Box 2, Folder 21

Songs, V-Z

Box 2, Folder 22-23

Untitled Songs

Box 2, Folder 24-25

Song Lists

Box 2, Folder 26-27

Research and Bibliographic Notes

Box 3, Folder 1

Research and Bibliographic Notes




Biography of James Marshall--Manuscript


[Note: Ms. Gay's original enumeration is shown here in brackets; numbering without brackets reflects the published version)
Box 3, Folder 2

Prologue, The Ringing of the Bells [I]

Box 3, Folder 3

Chapter I. [A Boy Grows Up] Boyhood Family Traditions [II]

Box 3, Folder 4

Chapter II. Adventuring Westward [III]

Box 3, Folder 5

Chapter III. California Bound [IX]

Box 3, Folder 6

Chapter IV. Lord of New Helvetia [V]

Box 3, Folder 7

Chapter V. Marshall at Sutter's Fort [VI]

Box 3, Folder 8

Chapter VI. Helping Manifest Destiny [A Son of N. J.] [VII]

Box 3, Folder 9

Chapter VII. Building a Sawmill [VIII]

Box 3, Folder 10

Chapter VIII. Gold! [IX]

Box 3, Folder 11

Chapter IX. The Secret is Out [X]

Box 3, Folder 12

Chapter X. The Rush is On! [XI]

Box 3, Folder 13

Chapter XI. Yellow Fever... [XII]

Box 3, Folder 14

Chapter XII. Culloma, 1848-1849 [XIII]

Box 3, Folder 15

Chapter XIII. Marshall and the Miners [XIV]

Box 3, Folder 16

Chapter XIV. A Famous Sawmill's Fate

Box 3, Folder 17

Chapter XV. Prospecting Around [XV]

Box 3, Folder 18

Chapter XVI. A Coloma Vinyardist [XVII]

Box 3, Folder 19

Chapter XVII. As Seen About Coloma [XVIII]

Box 3, Folder 20

Chapter XVIII. Mining Again [XIX]

Box 3, Folder 21

Chapter XIX. Lecture Tour [XX]

Box 3, Folder 22

Chapter XX. A State Pension [XXI]

Box 3, Folder 23

Chapter XXI. Kelsey Years XXII]

Box 3, Folder 24

Chapter XXII. Marshall and his Neighbors [XXIII]

Box 3, Folder 25

Chapter XXIII. Marshall on Parade [XXIII]

Box 3, Folder 26

Chapter XXIV. The Final Summons: [XXV]

Box 3, Folder 27

Chapter XXV. A Fuss Over Me [XXVI]

Box 4, Folder 1

Bibliography [Incomplete]

Box 4, Folder 2

Manuscript & research notes

Box 4, Folder 3-5

Chapter revisions

Box 4, Folder 6

Periodical review of biography




James W. Marshall:

Box 4, Folder 7-8

Aid for Marshall

Box 4, Folder 9-10

Death of Marshall

Box 4, Folder 11-12

Early Years in Missouri

Box 4, Folder 13-14

Early Years in New Jersey

Box 4, Folder 15-16


Box 4, Folder 17-18

Gold Discovery

Box 4, Folder 19

James W. Marshall Museum--Catalogue

Box 4, Folder 20

Lecture Tour

Box 4, Folder 21-22

Marshall County Proposal

Box 4, Folder 23

Marshall on Parade

Box 4, Folder 24

Marshall's Monument

Box 5, Folder 1

Marshall's Monument

Box 5, Folder 2

Military Career

Box 5, Folder 3-4


Box 5, Folder 5

Property--Sale of the Mill

Box 5, Folder 6

Property--Sale to Samuel J. Hensley

Box 5, Folder 7

Prospecting Around

Box 5, Folder 8-9

Reminiscenes About Marshall

Box 5, Folder 10-11

Tarson's Life of Marshall

Box 5, Folder 12-13

Vineyard in Coloma

Box 5, Folder 14

What Cheer House

Box 5, Folder 15

Misc. Notes

Box 5, Folder 16

Misc. Notes

Physical Description: (notecards)

Gold Rush in California

Box 5, Folder 17-18

Amos Pittnam Letters

Box 5, Folder 19-20

California Gold Rush Centennial

Box 5, Folder 21-22


Box 5, Folder 23-24

Difficulties of Mining during the Gold Rush (includes correspondence with Gerald Nash)

Box 5, Folder 25


Box 5, Folder 26-27

El Dorado County Archives

Box 5, Folder 28

El Dorado County History--Misc.

Box 6, Folder 1

George Johnson's Coloma Notebook (excerpts)

Box 6, Folder 2

Gold Mining in California

Box 6, Folder 3

Hanging of Irish Dick Crone (1850)

Box 6, Folder 4-5

Indian Difficulties in Coloma

Box 6, Folder 6-7

John Sutter and His Fort

Box 6, Folder 8

John Sutter's Diary (excerpts)

Box 6, Folder 9

John Sutter's Personal Reminiscences

Box 6, Folder 10-11

Misc. Notes from Missouri Newspapers

Box 6, Folder 12-13

Mormons in California

Box 6, Folder 14-15

Other First Discoveries

Box 6, Folder 16-17

The Secret Is Out

Box 6, Folder 18-19

Yellow Fever, California Variety


California--Other topics

Box 6, Folder 20

Bank of California:

Box 7, Folder 1

--Mark Hopkins Correspondence

Physical Description: (photostats)
Box 7, Folder 2

--William Ralston Correspondence

Physical Description: (photostats)
Box 7, Folder 3

--Ralston correspondence (other)

Box 7, Folder 4-6

--Miscellaneous correspondence

Box 7, Folder 7-8

Botanical Gardens in California

Box 7, Folder 9-10

California's Centennial

Box 7, Folder 11-12

Christmas in Old California

Box 7, Folder 13

En route to California

Box 7, Folder 14-15

Indian Difficulties in California

Box 7, Folder 16-17

Land Use in California (includes correspondence to Gerald Nash)

Box 7, Folder 18-19

Orientals in California

Box 7, Folder 20-21

Pacific Squadron


Misc. Topics:

Box 7, Folder 22

American Politics

Box 8, Folder 1

Jason and Daniel Lee (includes correspondence from family members)

Box 8, Folder 2

Diary of G. W. Melhorn, CSA (transcript)

Box 15

Miscellaneous research notecards

Box 8, Folder 3-7

Miscellaneous research notes

Box 8, Folder 8-9

U. S. and International Politics




Teaching Assistant Files (Stanford University History Department):

Box 8, Folder 10

Course notes and materials from History 132 and History 169


Teaching Files (Palo Alto Adult Education Program):

Box 8, Folder 11

Course material (item)

Box 8, Folder 12





Pamphlets and Fliers:

Box 8, Folder 13

Gold Rush

Box 9, Folder 1

American Politics--Campaigns, etc.


Maps and Travel Guides:

Box 9, Folder 2

Gold Rush Country

Box 9, Folder 3-4


Box 9, Folder 5-8

Book Catalogs

Box 9, Folder 9

Misc. items and recipes

Box 9, Folder 10


Box 11, Folder 1-9


Box 12, Folder 1-12


Box 13, Folder 1-11



Box 10, Folder 1

Microfilm and negatives

Box 16

Microfilm and negatives

Physical Description: (os)
Box 10, Folder 2-6

Photographs and photostats

Box 14, Folder 1-10