Untitled (Eliza Jane Steen-Johnson)
Gift of Barbara Smith

Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush. Jan. 24, 1998-Oct. 31, 1999 | Early California Art and History, Science Special Gallery, Dec. 2007 - Sept. 2009

This portrait was probably taken of Eliza Steen-Johnson shortly after her arrival in California. "Eliza Johns was a spirited person. At age nineteen, in 1843, she eloped from her parents' home in County Antrim, Ireland, with John Johnson from Oldstone, Ireland. During the Gold Rush they came to San Francisco, In "The Lace House," their drygoods and millinery store on Sacramento Street just off Portsmouth Square, Eliza modeled clothing for the miners who brought in their pokes filled with gold dust to purchase gifts. About 1863 the Johnsons, with their growing family, established a home in Oakland."

Additional information regarding the life of Eliza Steen Johnson from Curator's personal research file, added Dec. 3, 2004: Elliza Steen was born in Antrim, County Antrim, Province of Ulster, Ireland, June 22. 1824. Eliza was the fourth daughter of eight daughters and one son. Her Parents were John and Margaret Steen. She was married August 24, 1843, to John Johnson of Oldstone, Ireland, and the same year they left for New York where they lived for some eight or nine years until they moved to california in 1850 at the height of the Gold Rush. Eliza died December 10, 1899, and was buried in the family plot in Oakland.

Used: Eliza Jane Steen-Johnson

Picture This Information

This artifact is part of the OMCA's Picture This website. More about the context and history of this artifact is available at Picture This.

About the Picture This web project: California's Perspectives on American History is a resource for teachers and students to learn about the experiences of diverse peoples of California by using primary source images from the Oakland Museum of California's collections. Organized into 11 time periods spanning from pre-1769 to the present, more than 300 photographs, drawings, posters, and prints tell stories from the perspectives of different ethnic groups. Historical contexts are provided to offer a framework of California's role in relation to American history.

The National Archives state that primary sources, "fascinate students because they are real and they are personal: history is humanized through them." Picture This invites students to examine the historical record, encouraging them to connect history with real people and explore how images tell stories and convey historical evidence about the human experience. History becomes more than just a series of facts, dates, and events.      

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