Imagine Gerome’s surprise when he discovered Mark Twain in Shields Library!
The Mark Twain bust, located on the second floor of the library, is part of the Sacramento Union Records, held by Special Collections. The Sacramento Union was the oldest daily newspaper west of the Mississippi, until it closed its doors in 1994.
Twain’s words, inscribed on the base of the bust, explain his connection to the Union: “Early in 1866, George Barnes invited me to resign my reportership on his paper, the San Francisco Morning Call, and for some months thereafter, I was without money or work; then I had a pleasant turn of fortune. The proprietors of the Sacramento Union, a great and influential daily journal, sent me to the Sandwich Islands to write four letters a month at twenty dollars a piece. I was there for four or five months, and returned to find myself about the best known man on the Pacific Coast.” Twain’s Letters from the Sandwich Islands have since been reprinted, including in a volume that was published by the Grabhorn Press.
The Sacramento Union Records provide a wealth of information for researchers interested in the Sacramento region in the last quarter of the 20th century. The collection contains some accounting and business records from the early years of the newspaper as well as records that cover the last eighteen months of the newspaper’s struggle to survive. The photograph files run from 1966 to 1994. The clipping files provide subject access for 1972 through 1992.
Digital versions of the Union are available via the California Newspaper Project and the Library of Congress. The California Newspaper Project has digitized the Sacramento Daily Union for 1851-1899. Search for articles and browse available issues via their website. The Library of Congress Chronicling America Collection has digitized the Sacramento Daily Record-Union for 1880-1891 and the Record-Union for 1891-1899.
Shields Library holds microfilm of the Union for the years 1851-1854; 1856-1864 and 1869-1994.
Gerome hopes that you stop by and see Mark Twain for yourself!