The Society of California Pioneers’ archives document the founding and early history of California, including The Gold Rush, The Earthquake and Fire of 1906, and other defining events. The collection includes manuscripts and letters, paintings, prints and drawings, photographs, books, maps, newspapers and journals, the business ledgers of mining and transportation companies, as well as historic artifacts and decorative objects. An extensive collection of overland and pioneer diaries includes those of John A. Sutter and a letter by Henry W. Bigler, both primary sources announcing the discovery of gold in California.

Works by Carleton Watkins, Eadweard Muybridge, Lawrence & Houseworth, and Turrill & Miller are held in our archive of photographs, panoramas, and daguerreotypes. Particularly notable for its nineteenth-century holdings, the painting collection includes works by Thomas Hill, William Coulter, Jules Tavernier, and Maynard Dixon. Together with The Society’s collection of ephemera and prints, these form a vivid, visual record of life in California over time.

Library & Special Collections



Painting, Prints & Drawings