Golden Prospects

Daguerreotypes of the California Gold Rush

Jane L. Aspinwall; With contributions by Keith F. Davis

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A fresh, comprehensive, and critical look at the California gold rush through the lens of the daguerreotype camera

The California gold rush was the first major event in American history to be documented in depth by photography. This fascinating volume offers a fresh, comprehensive, and critical look at the people, places, and culture of that historical episode as seen through daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of the era. After gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in 1848, thousands made the journey to California, including daguerreotypists who established studios in cities and towns and ventured into the gold fields in specially outfitted photographic wagons. Their images, including portraits, views of cities and gold towns, and miners at work in the field, provide an extraordinary glimpse into the evolution of mining culture and technology, the variety of nationalities and races involved in the mining industry, and the growth of cities such as San Francisco and Sacramento. Including numerous images published here for the first time, this book provides an extraordinary glimpse into the transformation of the American West.

Jane Lee Aspinwall is associate curator and collections supervisor of photography, and Keith F. Davis is senior curator of photography, both at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City
(September 6, 2019–January 26, 2020)

Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
(April 4, 2020–July 12, 2020)

Yale University Art Gallery
(August 28–November 29, 2020)

“The reproductions shine and shimmer, and the accompanying chapters trace the dual history of photography and mining in the region at the time.”—Rebecca Rego Barry, Fine Books and Collections
ISBN: 9780300246216
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Publishing Partner: Distributed for The Hall Family Foundation in association with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
168 pages, 11 x 11
172 color + b/w illus.
The Art of Frederick Sommer

Photography, Drawing, Collage

Essay by Keith F.

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The Origins of American Photography

From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885: The Hallmark Photographic Collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Keith F. Davis; With contributions by Jane L. Aspinwall

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The Photographs of Homer Page

The Guggenheim Year: New York, 1949-50

Keith F. Davis

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Timothy H. O'Sullivan

The King Survey Photographs

Keith F. Davis and Jane L. Aspinwall

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Alexander Gardner

The Western Photographs, 1867–1868

Jane L. Aspinwall; With a preface by Keith F.

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Eugene Richards

The Run-On of Time

Lisa Hostetler and April M. Watson

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