A Night at the State Library presents: Fortune to the Bold: How French Argonauts Struck it Rich in Gold Rush California

January 11, 2016

Arrivée en Californie." An 1850 lithograph from the California State Library Special Collections

Arrivée en Californie.” An 1850 lithograph from the California State Library Special Collections

Historian and author Dr. Claudine Chalmers will speak at the California State Library on January 13 on the topic of the French pioneers, artists and entrepreneurs who joined the California Gold Rush seeking their fortune. As many as 35,000 Frenchmen came to California in the 1840s and 1850s, at a time when the pioneers were the most likely to strike it rich. Many of these bold Frenchmen saw their dreams come to life: wealth, success, political freedom, adventure — they experienced it all, and in the process, greatly contributed to our Golden State’s brilliance and distinctive cosmopolitan flavor. Many French immigrants found wealth in the rivers of California, or on the wharves of San Francisco where French merchandise was at a premium; in the alluring world of gambling saloons, or in the secret top-floor parlors of “French Restaurants.”

Dr. Chalmers moved from her native Cannes, France to California after graduate studies at the University of Nice. She has authored several books on the French in California, including Splendide Californie: Impressions of the Golden State by French Artists; French San Francisco; and Paul Frenzeny’s Chinatown Sketches.

The event is part of the monthly series “A Night at the State Library,” which features California authors and artists. The event takes place in the historic Stanley Mosk Library and Courts Building, 914 Capitol Mall, and is free with RSVP. If you didn’t receive an “EventBrite” invite, contact: Kimberly.brown@library.ca.gov, 916-651-6466.

A Night at the California State Library continues the 166-year tradition of successfully connecting Californians to our collective history through its special events and is made possible by generous donations from the California State Library Foundation.

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