The Project

In a vault at the University of Nevada, Reno sit the complete journals of Alfred Doten, a keen observer and active participant in frontier life in California and Nevada. Within 79 books are rich daily reports that cover all manner of frontier life from 1849 to 1903: mining, medicine, sexuality, environmental change, conflict, cultural interactions, and more.

The Clark Edition

Walter Van Tilburg Clark's ten-year project to edit Doten’s diaries for an abridged publication was a heroic effort, and the three-volume result has been valued for 42 years by readers seeking an inside view of daily life in Gold Rush California and the Comstock. The Journals of Alfred Doten, 1849-1903 has maintained its esteemed position as a Western American History classic, but has long been out of print and is not readily available to modern researchers. The University of Nevada Press has generously allowed permission to provide free access to The Journals on the university’s website, not only extending the availability of this source tremendously, but also enabling search capabilities that open up Doten’s accounts for deep exploration as never before. The University Libraries and the History Department of the University of Nevada, Reno are proud to build upon the amazing accomplishments of Doten, Clark, and the University of Nevada Press.

The Doten Project

Due to the constraints of publication, the Clark edition contains less than half of the content of Doten's handwritten diaries. Faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno are working together and with volunteers and student assistants on a long-term project to make the complete contents of the diaries freely available, with enhancements, on the web. Phase 1 has been to provide searchable online access to the already-published edition, featured here. As part of the first phase, 210 of Doten's newspaper articles from four newspapers, published between 1854 and 1884, have also been made available for browsing and searching on this site. Alf Doten was an exceptional newspaper reporter, and these clippings feature some of his best writing about the events, people, and daily life in early settlements in California and Nevada.

The next phase of the Doten project will bring a complete version of his diaries online in a searchable format, with annotations and other supplementary material. This will require more volunteers to transcribe the diaries for publication on the web and possibly a new print edition and to help prepare related materials for inclusion. In the 1960s, a typed transcript of the diaries was produced under the direction of Walter Van Tilburg Clark. These typewritten pages are ready to be converted to digital format at a crowdsourcing site, From the Page. Participants can transcribe a page at a time, for as little or as much time as they choose. Please consider this opportunity! The Doten project depends on the participation of many dedicated enthusiasts.

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