Guide to the Alexander Van Valen Papers
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0935
Creators:
Van Valen, Alexander
Dates:
1849-1850
Languages:
English
Collection text is in English.
Physical Description:
1.5 Cubic feet
4 boxes
Repository:
Personal papers of Alexander Van Valen documenting his participation in the California Gold Rush, 1849-1850.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists mostly of the personal papers of Alexander Van Valen during his journey and subsequent stay in San Francisco, California, to participate in the Gold Rush,1849-1850. Of particular interest are the founding documents of the mining company, his 85 page journal, and his many letters, mostly to and from his wife Susan. Also included are portraits and daguerreotypes of his family. This collection is especially valuable to researchers who are interested in the California Gold Rush, nineteenth century maritime travel, business history, and migration.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into two series.
Series 1, Personal Papers, 1849-1850
Series 2, Other Materials, 1849-1850

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Alexander Van Valen was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on June 25, 1819. He married Susan Maria Talmage, and the couple had twin daughters, Catharine Eliza and Sarah Maria, born June 2, 1845. Van Valen served as treasurer of the California Gold Mining Company, one of many companies formed to participate in the 1849 California Gold Rush. Funded by two wealthy New York merchants, Henry A. Kerr and B. S. Clark, the company consisted of Van Valen and four men other men. Van Valen and his business partners agreed to spend two summers in California and pay Kerr and Clark one quarter of any profits made. Van Valen sailed aboard the San Francisco-bound Hersilia on January 22, 1849. Once in California, he and his company decided to try to strike it rich, first along the Mokelumne River and then up the San Joaquin River to Stockton. The trip proved unsuccessful, and Van Valen returned to New York less than two years later. He died on November 24, 1869.

Administration
Processing Information
Processed by Kiley Orchard (intern), 2008; supervised by Vanessa Broussard Simmons, archivist.
Existence and Location of Copies
1849 Diary digitzed in 2014.
Author
Kiley Orchard
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased by the National Museum of American History from Cowan's Historic Americana Auctions in 2006.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Alexander Van Valen Papers, 1849-1850, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Other Finding Aids
Other Finding Aids
Inventory available.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Correspondence -- 19th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Maps -- 19th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries -- 19th century Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Daguerreotypes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painted photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mining Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Daguerreotypes -- 1840-1860 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
California Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hand coloring Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
California -- San Francisco Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
San Francisco (Calif.) -- 1840-1850 Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gold mines and mining Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives