Title:George Holbrook Baker collection, 1848-1965
Creator/Contributor:Baker, Geo. H. (George Holbrook), 1827-1906, creator
The George H. Baker collection is an eclectic assortment of ca. 130 items associated with Baker. Materials date from 1848
through 1965 but individual dates are widely scattered throughout this period with no continuity. The collection is divided
into two series, personal papers and professional papers.
PERSONAL PAPERS: Correspondence: 1930s, 1965: to Baker's daughter (Eugenia Lilly) and granddaughter (Eugenia Young) notably
from the Society of California Pioneers and Yosemite National Park regarding Baker material; ca. 1897: fatherly advice from
Baker to his son, includes biographical information; 1903: to Baker from E.H. Holbrook -- Diaries: Dec. 7, 1848 to Aug. 17,
1850: Typescripts of diaries Baker kept during his early years in California; originals at the Society of California Pioneers
and published in its "Quarterly" 1930/1931 -- Poetry: 1903: book of Baker's poetry written for his granddaughter, Annie Baker,
contains memorial to his partner, E.L. Barber -- Photographs: Baker and Lilly families -- Drawings: By children, including
Frank B. Baker.
BUSINESS PAPERS: Records: 1865 and 1867 daily expense accounts, 1866 inventory of stones, 1867-1883 ledger. With photocopies.
-- Publications: Prospectus for "Sacramento illustrated", copies of "The Miner's ten commandments", "The miner's creed" --
Art: Tools: Box of pencil leads, canister of charcoal, lithographer's quill, pencil sharpener -- Art: Drawings: 3 sketchbooks
depicting mining activities, gold rush towns, and various figures or humorous drawings; loose drawings include a map of Alaska,
two caricatures of Norton I, sketches of the Cliff House and Seal Rocks, the 1894 Mid-Winter Fair, California belle (a cow),
various portraits including his mother and son -- Art: Lithographs: Ft. Yuma, the Cliff House and Seal Rocks, Henry Ward Beecher,
membership certificate Society of California Pioneers, stock certificates National Petroleum Company -- Art: Scrapbooks of
lithographs (not Baker's).
1844: Personal papers. -- 1845: Business papers: Records. -- 1846: Business papers: Publications, Art: Tools - Lithographs.
-- 1847: Business papers: Art: Scrapbooks, oversize drawings & lithographs.
Subject:n-us-ca -- n-us-or -- n-mx---
Baker, Geo. H. (George Holbrook) -- 1827-1906 -- Archives
Lithographers -- California -- Archives
Artists -- California -- Archives
Pioneers -- California -- Diaries
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Frontier and pioneer life -- California
California -- History -- 1846-1850
California -- Description and travel
Mexico -- Description and travel
Oregon -- Description and travel
Gold mines and mining -- California -- Pictorial works
California -- Pictorial works
Transferred from the collection: Three photographs: a tintype of George H. Baker ca. 1860; an ambrotype of a woman and young
boy, possibly George's son ca. 1858; an ambrotype of two unidentified young girls ca. 1856.
George H. Baker was the son of John and Evelyn Holbrook Baker, born near Dedham, Massachusetts, on March 9, 1827. He attended
schools in Dedham and Boston and served an apprenticeship under engraver George C. Smith. He began his professional career
in New York City where he also attended the National Academy of Design. In January of 1849, Baker succumbed to 'gold fever'
and joined the gold rush to California. He traveled by rail to New Orleans and then by sea and land crossing through Mexico
and up the Pacific coast, arriving in San Francisco May 28th. Baker kept a diary and wrote an account of his journey which
was published in eastern newspapers.
He mined briefly, and then engaged in mercantile pursuits in San Francisco and Sacramento and throughout the gold fields.
He continued to publish his observations on life in California and also provided drawings for illustration that were some
of the earliest published depictions of the state. After a trip East and an overland return to California in 1853, Baker finally
settled in Sacramento where he entered into a partnership publishing letter sheets with James Anthony, owner of the "Sacramento
union". By 1855 he was involved in a publishing partnership with E. L. Barber, a wood engraver. Their association produced
"Sacramento illustrated", one of the earliest pictorial histories of a Western city. See page with Baker's illustration: http://www.library.ca.gov/goldrush/images/saci̲llustrated01.jpg
During this period, Baker also owned and edited the Folsom "Granite journal" and Sacramento's "Spirit of the age". After 1857
he operated independently as George H. Baker, artist, art teacher, and general lithographer. The floods of 1862 ruined him,
and he moved to San Francisco. There Baker continued as an artist and general lithographer at numerous locations in San Francisco
until his retirement about 1890. He apparently invested in mining stocks and real estate during the 1860s and 1870s but lost
money in the stock market. He also apparently lost ground professionally as, beginning in the late 1870s, the San Francisco
lithographic trade expanded. Nevertheless, George H. Baker is still acknowledged as one of early California's leading artists
and lithographers whose pioneering work documented the state's beginning years.
Baker was also active in civic activities, including politics, and was a life member of the Society of California Pioneers
and the California State Agricultural Society, as well as belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. His family life
began in 1856 when he married Miss Mary A. Belden in Sacramento. Seven children were born to the couple. Of those, Mrs. Mary
E. Blanchard, of Seattle, and Mrs. Eugenia Lilly and Charles H. Baker, both of San Francisco, survived their father. George
Holbrook Baker died on January 20, 1906 as the result of a streetcar accident and is buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery (since
relocated to Colma).
George Holbrook Baker collection, 1848-1965
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.
Donated by Stephen R. Anaya.
ca. 130 items : ill., ports.
Unrestricted. Please credit California State Library.