Easier access to history

Alfred Doten was a forty-niner, arriving in California in that storied year and in Nevada in 1863. In Nevada, he became a newspaperman, working for the Virginia Daily Union, Gold Hill Daily News and Reese River Reveille. He reported for the News for 14 years and owned it for nine.

In 1859, he began keeping a diary. He kept it for 53 years, and it survived into the 1980s, when novelist Walter Van Tilburg Clark began editing it for publication. In 1973, it was published by the University of Nevada Press in three volumes of 2,381 pages.

The diary has now been posted online by the University of Nevada, Reno’s Special Collections office. Donnelyn Curtis of Special Collections said in a prepared statement, “Being able to search 53 years of daily diary entries unlocks a great deal more of the information within to those who have not read the entire publication. … The diaries can also be browsed and read within an e-book reader.”

Sample: “Dec 25—Clear—Christmas day—Forenoon I worked—Afternoon I staid at home to spend the Christmas—made some Grizzly mince pies [from a bear shot by two friends]—Evening I fired 12 guns in honor of the day—Quimby [a friend] passed the evening with me—This morning two of my neighbors, Perry and Everbeck went to Stockton for more provisions &c—Christmas in the mines is generally a pretty jovial day, whether from any regard for religion or not I cannot say, but this day is always a festive day in the diggin’s—And then at night if there is a fiddler about[. H]is services are called into requisition and all have an extremely tall time. On that occasion each one feels himself privileged to get ‘tight’ and go in deep for fun and of course ‘the ardent’ has a quick and ready sale—but Dame Nature next morning gently chides them with headaches and reminds them of the glories of last night–.”

Curtis further notes that the online version of the diary will be the same as Clark’s edited and published version, which is to say about 55 to 60 percent of the actual diary.

“[W]e have every hope of getting all of the content (including newspaper clippings and photos that were tucked in) online eventually, and with annotations,” she writes. “It is a big project, and it will require grants or volunteers or both. If parts of that project would be of interest to you as a prospective volunteer, or if you know of funding that would enable us to hire some helpers, please let me know.”