Here is the third volume in Louis Rasmussen’s distinguished series dealing with passenger arrivals at the port of San Francisco between 1850 and 1875. In the absence of official port records–which were destroyed by fire in 1940–this ambitious work attempts a reconstruction of passenger arrivals from newspapers and journals.
Volume III covers a seven-month period during which approximately 25,000 persons arrived at the port of San Francisco–nearly 50% more than the number of arrivals for the preceding 18-month period covered in Volume II. The year 1852 witnessed a surge in migration to California, and this volume reflects the initial thrust of that surge. To quote the author, “The rush of passengers was so great from the east coast of America that steamers were engaged full for more than two months ahead . . . . By the tedious passage of ‘the Horn,’ through Nicaragua, and over the Isthmus of Panama, thousands were bound for the West.” In addition to Yankee Easterners and Europeans, the year 1852 (though mostly the second half thereof) would see the arrival of many San Francisco-bound Chinese immigrants from Canton.
Mr. Rasmussen’s informative Introduction describes the conditions aboard the steamships and the changing face of the city of San Francisco as its population swelled and its raison d’etre expanded beyond the Gold Rush days. The passenger lists themselves are arranged in chronological order, and, typically, each passenger list is introduced with the following notations: name of ship, type of ship, port of embarkation, date of arrival, name of captain, description of cargo, and notes concerning the passage (date of departure, ports of call, length of voyage, and names of passengers who died en route, with their places of residence and dates of death). The list of passengers follows and sometimes identifies accompanying family members. Rounding out the book are a key to abbreviations, a list of the shipping lines that sailed/steamed on the Pacific, various addenda and corrigenda, and superlative name and subject indexes.