Eiteljorg Musuem Blog
  • Community in Peril | Life in the gold camps

    by James H. Nottage, Eiteljorg chief curatorial officer | May 06, 2015
     Every alternate house was a gambling saloon, and each of them was carrying on a brisk business. In the middle of the street a little knot of men had gathered, and were holding a prayer meeting, which showed in sharp contrast to the bustling activity of wickedness surrounding it.

    —Leander P. Richardson, “A Trip to the Black Hills,” in Scribner’s Monthly, April 1877

    Life in the gold camps, and in the towns and cities that developed around them, attracted those who sought to separate the miners from their gold through crime, gambling, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, and other temptations. Saloons provided a place to socialize and relax, usually on Sundays, from the labors of mining and prospecting. Whiskey and beer were commonly served, but so were fruity mixed drinks. The food served ranged from basic fare to the finest cuisine, including fresh oysters from the East.

    Although conflicts ran through Deadwood because of crime and violence, many communities within the town formed and prospered. Strong populations of Chinese, Jewish, and other groups were an important part of daily life.  They could even band together in the event of fire, which could threaten them all.

    The Burnt District
    , Deadwood, 1879
    Image courtesy of Deadwood History, Inc., Adams Museum Collection; 0070.233.001

    Interior Deadwood Saloon. Image courtesy of Deadwood History, Inc., Adams Museum Collection; 0001.044.001
    Chinese fire department - SMALLER

    Chinese Fire Department—July 4, 1888
    Image courtesy of Deadwood History, Inc., Adams Museum Collection; 56-6-1924



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  • FANTASTIC, AMAZING, MARVELOUS | What visitors are saying about GOLD

    by Eiteljorg Gold! Riches and Ruin Visitors | May 05, 2015

    2001.142.12.14-gold media
    Scene of Hydraulic Mining in Alaska, ca. 1899
    Image courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society; 2001.142.12.14

    The Eiteljorg's Gold! Riches and Ruin exhibit explores stories of greed, innovation, success and failure in the quest for gold and the world’s continuing fascination with this rare and valuable mineral. Here's what some of our visitors have shared after experiencing the show:

    "This is a most educational and fantastic exhibition. Very well presented. Thank you."

    "Marvelous exhibit — rich detail, displayed beautifully. I live in the DC area and this is on par with anything in the Smithsonian!"

    DSC_8968"The neatness of the area and variety of exhibits was not only impressive, but so well explained and exhibited."

    "It was absolutely amazing. I loved the show by Belinda Mulrooney (pictured - Local actress Jamison Fisher*). The artifacts were unbelievable. It was the most fascinating museum experience ever!!"

    "Wonderful exhibit of history and the westward exploration. Sad to see it cost so many cultures and people their lives."

    "I was really impressed. Nice diversity of religion, race, gender and socioeconomic class. Really well done."

    "Great gold exhibit — very complete time-wise, culturally. The large photos added greatly to sense of being there. Exhibit much more than I anticipated. Excellent! Thanks, congrats to the curator of the exhibit."

    "Very interesting. A lot of things you heard about in history class didn’t provide all these details. Learned a lot."

    Visit this show to witness captivating accounts from gold rush experiences, spanningEiteljorg gold hair comb cup ring nuggets the 1840s to the 1910s, told through art and artifacts. The show comes alive through comprehensive programs, interactive media and hands-on S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math) activities. Gold! closes Aug. 9.

    Pictured: Gold hair comb, cup, ring, and nuggets, Loan: Courtesy of Greg and Petra Martin, Photography by Hadley Fruits

    Storytelling every Saturday and Sunday

    Meet Storyteller Belinda Mulrooney! 
    Saturdays & Sundays through AUG 9
    12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

    Meet Belinda Mulrooney, one of the richest women in the Klondike at the turn of the 20th century, and hear about her adventures during the Yukon Klondike Gold Rush. Local actress Jamison Fisher, will portray Mulrooney in the Gold! Riches and Ruin gallery throughout the run of the exhibition.

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  • Deadwood | Cooperation and Conflict

    by Johanna M. Blume, Eiteljorg assistant curator | May 04, 2015

     P_38839- deadwood south dakota
    Deadwood, South Dakota, ca. 1876
    Photographer: Howard
    Image courtesy of Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center, Los Angeles; P.38839
    Chinamen had no rights in the Hills that the whites were bound to respect, but it is different now. The celestials receive the same protection in our courts of law that white men are favored with.
    Black Hills Daily Times, October 23, 1877

    The white man is in the Black Hills like maggots, and I want you to get them out as quick as you can. The chief of all thieves (General Custer) made a road into the Black Hills last summer, and I want the Great Father to pay the damages for what Custer has done.
    —Baptiste Good, 1875

    Like many gold rush communities, Deadwood was a hub of human activity. Its population was diverse, composed of immigrants drawn by the gold discovery from far and wide to a region that had already been home to the Lakota for generations.

    In some cases, people from different backgrounds found ways to cooperate with one another. For example, the Chinese population of Deadwood found an ally in Jewish businessman Solomon Star. During his twenty-two years as mayor, Star did much to protect the interests and traditions of the Chinese community. In other cases, people could not surmount their differences and conflict ensued. Deadwood was illegally located on Lakota land, and hostilities between the town’s new residents and the Lakota persisted for many years.02678u- the race

      The Race. The Great Hub-and-Hub Race at Deadwood, Dak., July 4, 1888, Between the Only Two Chinese Hose Teams in the United States, 1888
    Photgrapher: John C. H. Grabill
    Image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division; LC-DIG-ppmsc-02678

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  • Eiteljorg Insider | Meet Curatorial Intern Lyndsey Blair

    by Lyndsey Blair, Eiteljorg curatorial intern | Apr 22, 2015

    Lyndsey Blair
    Howdy! My name is Lyndsey Blair, and I am a second-year graduate student in the Public History Master’s program at IUPUI.  For the past nine months, I have served as the Eiteljorg’s curatorial intern.  Much of this time has been spent researching information related to the museum’s latest exhibit, Gold! Riches and Ruin.

    For this exhibit, I read numerous articles and books by respected historians, examinedlyndsey blair - WP_20150225_003 first-hand accounts in newspapers, letters, and journals, and viewed thousands of historic photographs.  These resources have given me a greater understanding of the California, Black Hills, and Yukon-Klondike gold rushes.  The most important point I learned was that these rushes not only affected the miners (who were from a variety of backgrounds) but American society as a whole. Some of these changes were beneficial, while others were not.   For example, this phenomenon turned fledging western towns like San Francisco into bustling cities, led to advances in railroad transportation and mail delivery, and inspired new works of art, music, literature, and fashion.  But this event also exposed racial and ethnic tensions in mining camps and nearby cities with diverse populations and resulted in the genocide of thousands of Native Americans. 

    Lyndsey blair 2 - WP_20150225_007Beyond the academic knowledge I have gained from this internship, I have also learned a lot about the museum world.  Much of the work that occurs in museums is a collaborative process, and the same can be said for the Eiteljorg.  With this latest exhibit, staff members spent hundreds (and possibly thousands) of hours planning, researching, and installing the show.  Of course there are the curators, whose work has already been addressed.  But it is also important to recognize the contributions of the designers, the education department, the marketing team, and the maintenance and security staff.  All of these people played important roles in this exhibit.  In the end, I am very grateful to have been part of Gold! and hope visitors enjoy seeing all our hard work!

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  • Pay Dirt

    by Johanna M. Blume, Eiteljorg assistant curator of Western art | Apr 16, 2015
    I maintain that science is the blindest guide that one could have on a gold-finding expedition. Those men who judge by the appearance of the soil, and depend upon geological calculations, are invariably disappointed, while the ignorant adventurer, who digs just for the sake of digging, is almost sure to be successful.

    —Miner quoted by Louise Clappe, April 10, 1852

    Dutch Flat was a very prosperous mining town years ago, but now, with many other towns that have engaged in mining, it is rapidly on the decline. The cause of this is that hydraulic mining, which was the mode of mining here in the mountains, has been stopped by order of court. The complaint being that the tailings, or debris, from the mines was washed into the lands of the farmers in the valleys below.
    —Frank Liebling, Dutch Flat, California; The Sabbath Visitor, November, 1887

    During the California gold rush, placer mining—sifting through loose deposits of dirt, sand, and/or gravel, usually in or along stream beds—was the most common practice. Miners used a variety of tools to extract any gold that might be found, including hand tools such as gold pans; shovels; pick axes; larger equipment like rockers, sluice boxes, and “long toms”; and heavy machinery like stamp mills. Rockers, sluices, and long toms all used water, gravity, and the weight of the gold to separate the ore from the sediment. Stamp mills were used to crush larger rocks into finer particles, releasing the gold for further processing.

    Another method of gold mining that developed in California was hydraulic mining, a fast and effective means of loosening gold-bearing dirt through the use of highly pressurized water. After years of conflict between miners and farmers over its detrimental effect on the surrounding landscape and its impact on agriculture, the practice was banned in California in 1879.
    dag-0100b-spanish flat
    Spanish Flat, ca. 1852
    Photographer:  Joseph B. Starkweather
    Image courtesy of the California State Library, California History Room

    Hydraulic Mining near French Corral, Nevada County,
    Hydraulic Mining near French Corral, Nevada County, 1866
    Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division; LC-USZ62-9889

     Miner’s Coat of Arms, 1856
    Britton & Rey (lithographer and publisher)
    Courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
    BANC PIC 1963.002:0086—A

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