The Peter T. Pope Early California Collection

The Peter T. Pope Early California Collection, now part of the Crocker Art Museum’s permanent collection, examines the history of California through rare historic maps, depictions of Gold Rush towns, urban scenes of San Francisco, and other aspects of daily life. Scenes of the city include depictions of urban development, bird’s-eye views, social gatherings, caricatures of well-known industrialists, and the destruction caused by the 1865 and 1906 earthquakes. Through nearly all of the works—from cartography to cartoons—visitors will see the evolution of California’s urban, natural, and political landscape during multiple periods of growth and development.

The collection also seeks to address under-told narratives of immigrant labor that accompanied the Gold Rush boom, the forced relocation of Native American peoples, colonization, as well as the increased demand for, and use of, environmental resources. The people and places omitted from the many scenes depicted in the artwork are as important as the people and places purposefully represented.

Between 1848 and 1853, a quarter of a million people literally rushed to California in search of gold. The influx of people during the Gold Rush, considered the largest mass migration up to that point in American history, hastened California’s move toward statehood, which was secured through the Compromise of 1850. Within this Gold Rush history also lies the history of Native American peoples and immigrants. The latter came to Northern California from around the globe by steam ships, river boats, and overland trails.

Trains also play a central role in many of the works and are evidenced through scenes of railroads under construction and as connectors of people and industry. In 1862, Congress passed the Pacific Railway Act, which allowed for the start of construction on a transcontinental railroad. Upwards of 20,000 Chinese laborers helped build the most treacherous western portion of the transcontinental railroad between 1863 and 1869. Further, territorial expansion was fueled by the idea of Manifest Destiny, or that it was the God-given right for the United States to span from coast to coast regardless of those already here or who might stand in the way.

The Peter T. Pope Early California Collection digital project was made possible by the generous support of Maria and Molly Pope.

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  • Francis Samuel Marryat (English, 1826–1855)
    Blay Place, San Francisco. 1850.
  • Francis Samuel Marryat (English, 1826–1855) and John Brandard (English, 1812–1862)
    Mountains and Molehills or Recollections of a Burnt Journal. circa 1855.
  • Frank Leslie (American, born England, 1821–1880)
    California Pony Express article and illustration from Frank Leslie's Monthly. 1862.
  • Frederick Hess (American, born German, active 19th century), publisher
    San Francisco —California. 1874.
  • Frederik de Wit (Dutch, 1630–1706)
    Nova Totius Americae. 1660.
  • Frederik de Wit (Dutch, 1630–1706) and published by R & I Ottens (Dutch, active 18th century)
    Magnum Mare del Zur cum Insula California/De Groote Zuyd-Zee en't Eylandt California. circa 1715.
  • George B. Hitchcock (American, active 19th century), publisher
    Untitled (Shipping Order). July 21, 1874.
  • George Frederick Keller (American, born Prussia, 1846–1927)
    The Arctic Expedition, The Jeannette Passing Through the Golden Gate, S.F.. circa 1865.
  • George Frederick Keller (American, born Prussia, 1846–1927) and Francis Korbel (active 19th century), published by F. Korbel & Bros.
    Emperor Norton. circa 1880.
  • George Henry Burgess (American, born England, 1831–1902)
    View of the City & Harbor of San Francisco, from the Corner of Fremont & Harrison Streets. 1854.
  • George Henry Goddard, Sr. (American, born England, 1817–1906) and printed by Britton & Rey (American, 1852–1906)
    Bird's Eye View of San Francisco and Surrounding Country. 1868.
  • George Henry Goddard, Sr. (American, born England, 1817–1906) and published by Britton & Rey (American, 1852–1906) and printed by Snow & May (Amerian, active 19th century)
    Snow & May's View of San Francisco and Surrounding Country (Key). 1875.
  • George Henry Goddard, Sr. (American, born England, 1817–1906), Joseph Britton (American, born England, 1825–1901) and Jacques Joseph Rey (American, born France, 1820–1892)
    Bird's Eye San Francisco. 1875.
  • George Holcomb Baker (American, 1827–1906)
    Cliff House & Seal Rocks. circa 1862.
  • George Holcomb Baker (American, 1827–1906)
    Military of San Francisco. n.d.
  • George Holcomb Baker (American, 1827–1906)
    Poor Old Bummer!!. 1865.
  • George Holcomb Baker (American, 1827–1906) and published by Edmund Lorenzo Barber (American, active 19th century)
    San Francisco Past and Present. 1854.
  • George R. Lawrence (American, 1869–1938)
    San Francisco in Ruins, from Lawrence Captive Airship. 1906.
  • George Robinson Fardon (Canadian, born England, 1807–1886)
    San Francisco, Cal.. 1855.
  • George William Casilear (American, 1826–1912), C.V. Cooper, John Cameron and published by Henry Bill Publishing Company
    Part of San Francisco. 1853.


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