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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > “California as I Saw It”

[Detail] Emigrants Crossing the Plains. 1869.


Collection Overview

“California as I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900 documents the formative era of the state of California. Eyewitness accounts record the turbulent history of the pioneer experience and the Gold Rush. It includes complete works by Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, and William Tecumseh Sherman, as well as a rich array of journals, diaries, and letters illustrating everyday life of the period. The descriptions of the development of urban centers such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are also a highlight of this collection.

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Special Features

These online exhibits provide context and additional information about this collection.

Historical Eras

These historical era(s) are best represented in the collection although they may not be all-encompassing.

  • The Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877
  • Development of the Industrial United States, 1876-1915
  • Emergence of Modern America, 1890-1930

Related Collections and Exhibits

These collections and exhibits contain thematically-related primary and secondary sources. Also browse the Collection Finder for more related material on the American Memory Web site.

Other Resources

Recommended additional sources of information.

Search Tips

Specific guidance for searching this collection.

To find items in this collection, search by Keyword or browse by Author or Title listings. You can Search the "Descriptive Information" about the items (bibliographic records), or the "Full Text" of the materials.

There is no searchable index of the illustrations which are embedded in the texts of California as I Saw It. One way to look for illustrations is within the Book Navigator, which is the online table of contents for each item.You can access the Book Navigator by clicking on the "full text of the document" link on the bibliographic record for the item. If the book contains engravings or illustrations, they will most likely be listed in a separate section. You may also choose to do a full text search which includes the search terms illustration or captions in its scope, but the yield of hits will be very large.

For more help with search words, go to the California as I Saw It Subject Index. For help with general search strategies, see Finding Items in American Memory.