Spreading the Word: A History of Information in the California Gold Rush

By Richard T. Stillson | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Like all serious scholarship, this project was a cooperative effort, impossible without the support and guidance of many people and institutions. My deepest debt goes to my mentor at Johns Hopkins University, Professor Ronald Walters, who suggested the idea of using the California gold rush as a case study for my interests in communications history, and then followed and improved each phase of the work. Professor Toby Ditz of Johns Hopkins opened what was for me a new world of the study of language, literary criticism, and reading. She then helped me relate my ideas about information assessment to this literature. This guidance, together with her detailed and helpful editorial comments, greatly improved my document. My wife Marion, in addition to providing support at home and forbearance for long research trips away from home, read most of the manuscript in various drafts and helped translate my ideas into readable English.

The archival research on which much of this study is based would not have been possible without the financial support and collections of many research libraries, particularly in California. I wish to thank the Western Historical Association for a Martin Ridge Fellowship that allowed a month-long study at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, and a Turner Grant from Johns Hopkins University that eased the financial burden of continuing my reading in California at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. At the Huntington, Mr. Peter Blodgett and Ms. Jennifer Martinez were particularly kind in helping me navigate the intricacies of that remarkable library. I continued my studies in California at the California State Library in Sacramento where Mr. Gary Kurutz also encouraged my focus on communications and information dispersal in the gold rush. In San Francisco, I used the archives of both the California Historical Society and the Society of California Pioneers, from which I obtained much of my primary material relating to the Lassen Cutoff.

Not all my archival work was done in California. Chapters 1 and 2, on newspapers and guidebooks, would not have been possible without the resources of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the help of the research and curatorial staff there. I wish to thank the AAS for the financial support of a Stephen Botein Fellowship to study there, but more importantly, I would like to thank Mr. John Hench and Ms. Caroline Sloat for their help and

-vi-

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