Journey West: Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder writes about her trip from New York to San Francisco in 1856

Posted by Lara Michels on Wednesday April 15 2009

Today I was researching letters in the Magnes holdings that Jewish immigrants to the American West sent to their families back home (in Europe or elsewhere). There are some wonderful examples of such letters in our collections. I particularly like one sent by Johanna Mayer Hirschfelder to her family back in Europe in 1856. In it, she describes in lovely detail her journey from New York to San Francisco on ship and railroad (through Panama).

Of course, before the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, the trip from the East to the West coast involved either a long and sometimes harrowing journey by ship around the tip of South America, or a journey by ship to Panama, across the isthmus of Panama on train or on donkey, and then by another ship up the western Pacific coast. Here are two pages of this fabulous letter (which is in German) followed by a translation of the entire document:

Johanna Meyer Hirschfelder letter, 1856, page 1 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-001_001)

Johanna Meyer Hirschfelder letter, 1856, page 1 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-001_001)

Johann Mayer Hirschfelder letter, 1856, page 2 (wjhc2000-015-ar1

Johann Mayer Hirschfelder letter, 1856, page 2 (wjhc2000-015-ar1

This translation of the entire letter was done by Ruth Eis and Ruth Steiner. (translation after the jump)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 1 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_001)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 1 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_001)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 2 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_002)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 2 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_002)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 3 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_003)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 3 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_003)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 4 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_004)

Translation of Hirschfelder letter, page 4 (wjhc2000-015-ar1-002_004)

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • email
  • PDF

Filed under: Collections andHistory andRandom Musings

No comments have been added to this post yet.

Leave a comment

(required)

(required)


Information for comment users
Line and paragraph breaks are implemented automatically. Your e-mail address is never displayed. Please consider what you're posting.

Use the buttons below to customise your comment.


RSS feed for comments on this post | TrackBack URI

 

Additional comments powered by BackType