Further Reading About California's Early Years

Basic General Reference Works:

Two reference books essential to the new student of California history may be useful to readers of this collection. James D. Hart's A Companion of California: New Edition, Revised and Expanded (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987) and A Guide to the History of California edited by Doyce B. Nunis, Jr., and Gloria Ricci Lothrop (New York: Greenwood Press, 1989). Hart's Companion is a superb one-volume encyclopedia of California history. The brief but informative entries, generously cross-referenced, are supplemented by maps and a "Chronological Index". With this book at their sides, users of this collection can quickly find necessary background information for a memoir. Anyone who wishes to read further in California history should first turn to the Nunis and Lothrop Guide, which contains nineteen well-written essays on the historical literature and source materials for California. "Historical Literature" is treated with both chronological surveys and discussions of literature focusing on special groups in California: women, African Americans, Asians, Chicanos, and city dwellers. The second section, on "Archives and Sources," includes discussions of resources in specific geographical areas as well as specific kinds of materials such as oral history that are of special value for a study of California. Anyone who consults this Guide will receive clear and well-written guidance to the next stage in learning about any topic in California history.

There are several fine one-volume introductions to California history. Among available textbooks, readers might consult James J. Rawls and Walton Bean's California: An Interpretive History (New York: McGraw Hill, 1993); The Elusive Eden: A New History of California, by a trio of faculty members at the California State University, Hayward: Richard B. Rice, William A. Bullough, and Richard J. Orsi (New York: Knopf, 1988); or Andrew Rolle's California: A History (Arlington Heights, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1987). As textbooks, each is, of course, well illustrated, with maps, diagrams, and the other apparatus of good teaching volumes. For the reader who prefers a non-textbook format, we recommend David Lavender's lively and readable California: Land of Beginnings (Lincoln, Neb.: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1987).

For the reader interested in going beyond these general introductions, the following are useful works of more specialized interest:

California under Spain and Mexico:

Chapman, Charles E. A History of California: The Spanish Period. New York, 1921.

DeNevi, Don and Noel F. Moholy. Junipero Serra. San Francisco, 1985. (A popular treatment based on Maynard Geiger's scholarly work.)

Geary, Gerald J. The Secularization of the California Missions (1810-1846). Washington, 1934.

Geiger, Maynard. The Life and Times of Fray Junipero Serra. 2 vols. Washington, 1959. (A scholarly treatment.)

Hague, Harlan. The Road to California: The Search for a Southern Overland Route, 1540-1848. Glendale, 1978.

Rawls, James J. Indians and California: The Changing Image. Norman, 1984.

Watson, Douglas S., ed. The Spanish Occupation of California. San Francisco, 1963. (Volume of extracts from journals and diaries.)

The United States Annexation of California:

Fremont, John C. Memoirs of My Life. Ed. Allan Nevins. New York, 1956.

Harlow, Neal. California Conquered: War and Peace on the Pacific, 1846-1850. Berkeley, 1982.

Nevins, Allan. Fremont, Pathmaker of the West. 2 vols. New York, 1955.

Stewart, George R. The California Trail. New York, 1962.

The Gold Rush:

Caughey, John W. Gold Is the Cornerstone. Berkeley, 1948.

Holliday, J.S. The World Rushed In. New York, 1981.

Lewis, Oscar. Sea Routes to the Goldfields. New York, 1949.

Myers, Sandra L., ed. Ho for California! Women's Overland Diaries from the Huntington Library. San Marino, Calif., 1980.

Paul, Rodman W. California Gold. Lincoln, Neb., 1947 [reprint].

Stewart, George R. The California Trail: An Epic of Many Heroes. New York, 1962.

Unruh, John D., Jr. The Plains Across: The Overland Emigrants and the Trans-Mississippi West, 1840-1860. Urbana, 1979.

California Joins the Union:

Ellison, William H. A Self-Governing Dominion: California, 1849-1860. Berkeley, 1950.

Law and Order:

Bean, Walton. Boss Ruef's San Francisco. Berkeley, 1952.

Sankewicz, Robert M. Vigilantes in Gold Rush San Francisco. Stanford, 1985.

Railroads, Irrigation, and Economic Development:

Galloway, John D. The First Transcontinental Railroad. New York, 1950.

Issel, William and Robert W. Cherny. San Francisco, 1865-1932: Politics, Power, and Urban Development. Berkeley, 1986.

McWilliams, Carey. California Country: An Island on the Land. New York, 1946.

Olin, Spencer C. California Politics, 1846-1920: The Emerging Corporate State. San Francisco, 1981.

Pisani, Donald J. From Family Farm to Agribusiness: The Irrigation Crusade in California and the West, 1850-1931. Berkeley, 1984.

Selvin, David F. Sky full of Storm: A Brief History of California Labor. San Francisco, 1981.

Starr, Kevin. Americans and the California Dream, 1850-1915. New York, 1973.

Wilson, Neill C. and Frank J. Taylor. The Roaring Story of a Fighting Railroad. New York, 1952.

Worster, Donald. Rivers of Empire: Water, Aridity, and the Growth of the American West. New York, 1985.


Fox, Stephen R. John Muir and His Legacy: The American Conservation Movement. Boston and Toronto, 1981.

Nash, Roderick. Wilderness and the American Mind. 3d ed. New Haven, 1982.

Ethnic, Cultural, and Gender Groups:

Fischer, Christiane. Let Them Speak for Themselves: Women in the American West, 1849-1900. Hamden, Conn., 1977. (Not limited to California but a valuable source.)

Goode, Kenneth. California's Black Pioneers: A Brief Historical Survey. Santa Barbara, 1973.

Heizer, Robert F. The Destruction of California Indians: A Collection of Documents from the Period 1847 to 1865 in which are Described Some of the Things that Happened to Some of the Indians of California. Lincoln, Neb., 1993.

Heizer, Robert F., and Allan F. Almquist. The other Californians: Prejudice and Discrimination under Spain, Mexico, and the United States to 1920. Berkeley, 1971.

Heizer, Robert F., and M. A. Whipple. The California Indians: A Source Book. Berkeley, 1951.

Lapp, Rudolph M. Afro-Americans in California. San Francisco, 1979. A pamphlet in the "Golden State Series."

Lapp, Rudolph M. Blacks in Gold Rush California. New Haven, 1977.

Weber, David J. Foreigners in their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans. Albuquerque, 1973. (Not limited to California but a valuable source.)

"California as I Saw It"