Alfred Doten Diaries, 1849-1903



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Alfred Doten began his daily diary at the age of 19 on the day he left his home in Plymouth Massachusetts for the gold fields of California aboard the ship Yeoman. His last entry was written 53 years later on the day before he died, cold, penniless and alone, in Carson City, Nevada. During the intervening years he tried his luck in California and Nevada at mining, ranching, and journalism, as a reporter and publisher in Virginia City, Gold Hill, and Austin, Nevada. The 79 volumes of Doten's diary provide details about his public and private life, his challenges and pastimes, family, lovers, friends and acquaintances, including Mark Twain and Artemus Ward. He kept detailed notes on the theater, music, and society that surrounded him.

Doten's fortunes rose and fell along with Nevada's silver boom and the aftermath. His diaries provide a full and rare view into daily life in the last half of the 19th century in the American West. Diaries currently requiring transcription begin with his Book 74, written in 1898 when he was living in Carson City, doing freelance work and his family lived in Reno, where Mary was teaching school. Visit the abridged version of the diaries to learn more about the rest of Doten's life. Note: a login is now required on this site. The username and password are both doten.

Transcriptions will be proofed, edited against the original handwritten diaries and then enhanced and prepared for presentation on the web where they will be freely available to all. It is a major project that cannot be accomplished without the help of volunteers.


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