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Consuming IdentitiesVisual Culture in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco$
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Amy DeFalco Lippert

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190268978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190268978.001.0001

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“Ten Times Better Than a Letter”: Gold Rush Photography

“Ten Times Better Than a Letter”: Gold Rush Photography

(p.83) 2 “Ten Times Better Than a Letter”: Gold Rush Photography
Consuming Identities

Amy K. DeFalco Lippert

Oxford University Press

Argonauts posed for gold rush portraits in so-called costumes that evoked the archetypal miner—a category that Anglo Americans understood as implicitly white and male, although they appropriated what they considered to be Mexican forms of dress to craft this image. The miner persona conferred the notoriety and immortality of fame, while threatening to envelop the subject’s name and personal identity into the anonymous fold of the archetype. The gold rush constituted one of the first major events to employ the photograph as an instrument of widely disseminated historical documentation, and the results were as captivating to the public for the accuracy of their detail as for the nature of their subject matter.

Keywords:   daguerreotypes, gold rush portraits, miner costume, masculinity, black gold rushers, photography, homesickness, verisimilitude, male gaze, ethnic diversity

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