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Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder letter, 1856.
BANC MSS 2010/718 oversize folder 1A; BANC MSS 2010/718
Collection Overview


Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder letter, 1856


Hirschfelder, Johanna Mayer, 1831-1869, creator


Judah L. Magnes Museum, WJHC 2000.015.


Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life


Collection consists of an 1856 letter written by Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder from her Downieville home to her family in Europe describing in detail her journey by ship and train to California via the Isthmus of Panama. In the letter, Johanna comments on everything from the steamer's passengers and "Negro" staff to the weather and passing islands. She discusses her stop in Kingston, Jamaica (commenting on the large number of local "Israelites" and pointing out that she was shown a local synagogue). She also describes her journey across the Isthmus of Panama; her impressions of Mexico; and her initial impressions of entering through the Golden Gate (through a thick fog) and seeing San Francisco. She stayed in San Francisco for ten days before heading to Downieville. The folder also contains a transcription of the German letter, a translation of the letter into English and a Mayer family tree compiled by an unknown individual.


1856 (issued)


nwjm--- -- e-gx--- -- n-mx--- -- ncpn--- -- n-us-ny -- n-us-ca
Hirschfelder, Johanna Mayer -- 1831-1869 -- Archives
Hirschfelder, Emanuel -- b. ca. 1824
Immigrants -- California -- Correspondence
Jews -- California -- Sierra County
Synagogues -- Jamaica -- Kingston
California -- Description and travel
Downieville (Calif.) -- Description and travel
Mexico -- Description and travel
Panama -- Description and travel
Karlsruhe (Germany)


Formerly: Judah L. Magnes Museum Collection Number WJHC 2000.015
Johanna Meyer Hirschfelder letter, BANC MSS 2010/718, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Transfer; Judah L. Magnes Museum; 2010.
Associated item: Portrait of Amalie Ettinger Mayer (The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; 73.9 b)
Associated item: Portrait of Eduard Mayer (The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life; 73.9 a)
Johanna Mayer was born July 3, 1831 in Karlsruhe, Baden, Germany to Eduard (or Edmund) Mayer and Amalie Ettinger. She had five brothers: Bernhard (b. 1835), Henry (b. 1836), Maximilien Edward (b. 1840), Leopold Nathan (b. 1841), and Fritz (b. 1842). In the mid-1850s, Johanna married Emanuel Hirshfelder (b. 1824 in Stuttgart) and moved to Downieville, California. Emanuel Hirshfelder operated a dry goods and fancy goods store serving the miners of the California Gold Rush. The couple had three children, Fannie, Emma, and Edward. Johanna died in 1869 at the age of 32. She is buried at the Jewish Cemetery in Marysville, California.
In German, with translation into English.

Physical Description:

1 oversize folder.




BANC MSS 2010/718 oversize folder 1A
BANC MSS 2010/718