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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  • Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion (American, active 19th century), publisher
    Untitled. n.d.
  • Guillaume Delisle (French, 1675–1726)
    America Septentrionalis. circa 1758.
  • Gustav Drouaillet (American, born France, active mid–19th century) and printed by F. Kuhl
    California Engine Company No. 4, San Francisco. circa 1856.
  • H.F. Cox and Endicott & Co.
    Post Office, San Francisco, California A Faithful Representation of the Crowds…. circa 1850.
  • Harold John Brothers (American, born England, 1888–1947)
    California St., San Francisco. 1923.
  • Harpers Brothers (active 19th century), publisher
    The City of San Francisco, California [From Second St. Above Folsom]. July 11, 1857.
  • Harrison Eastman (American, 1822–1891) and published by Britton & Rey (American, 1852–1906)
    San Francisco. 1852.
  • Henry Bainbridge (American, active 19th century) and George William Casilear (American, 1826–1912)
    View of San Francisco. n.d.
  • Henry Bainbridge (American, active 19th century), George William Casilear (American, 1826–1912) and published by Joseph Fairfield Atwill (American, 1811–1891)
    View of San Francisco Taken from the Western Hill at the Foot of Telegraph Hill. 1851.
  • Henry Bill (American, 1824–1891)
    San Francisco. 1852.
  • Henry Firks (American, active mid-19th century) and published bt W.H. Jones and G.T. Devereaux
    San-Francisco, 1849. 1849.
  • Henry Jerome Schile (American, born Germany, 1829–1901)
    Across the Continent: Passing the Humboldt River. 1870.
  • Henry Lange (German, 1821–1893), Anstalt von Leopold Kraatz (German, active 19th century) and published by V.G. Westermann (German, active 19th century)
    Bai San Francisco und Vereinigung de Sacramento mid dem San Joaquin. 1854.
  • Henry Steinegger (American (born Switzerland), 1831–1917), Joseph Britton (American, born England, 1825–1901) and Jacques Joseph Rey (American, born France, 1820–1892)
    Territorial Pioneers of California, Domingo Marucci. May 25, 1878.
  • Herman Moll (English, born Holland, 1654–1732) and published by I. Bowles et. al. (English, active 18th century)
    North America. circa 1720.
  • Hermann J. Meyer (German, 1826-1909)
    San Francisco. circa 1850–1860.
  • Hermann J. Meyer (German, 1826–1909)
    Monterey in California. 1861.
  • Isaak Tirion (Dutch, 1705–1765)
    Kaart van het Westelyk Gedeelte van Nieuw Mexico en van California. 1765.
  • Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912)
    City Hotel. circa 1891.
  • Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912)
    A Corner of the Plaza, San Francisco in February 1850. circa 1891.


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