Notes: The most detailed 19th century directory of Humboldt County, a remote region in far northwest California that at the time was only reachable by ship. This is also one of the only Western directories compiled and published by a woman.
The first 126 pages are mostly devoted to the history of the county (with many advertisements from local businesses), then follows a directory of business owners by last name and then a classified listing of business by type. There is an index to the advertisers at the front and a biographical section devoted to leading business owners and important businesses at the end. Hamm also includes railroad schedules, navigation information, mail delivery routes, and telegraph offices. The advertisements are particularly detailed and many are full-page, taking advantage of the large format of the directory to include illustrations and detailed descriptions of products.
In 1885, Humboldt County's white residents forced all the Chinese immigrants to leave the county and this book, like many booster publications of the time, proclaims this fact on the title page. Hamm describes the expulsion (p. 91) with the assertion that, "All that portion of Humboldt County which is, so to speak, within the domain of civilization, has been thoroughly, and it is believed permanently, ridded by peaceable means of this objectionable class."
Hamm is a fascinating figure, about whom not enough is yet known. She seems to have been a self-made woman with a real entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to publishing this directory, in 1890 she ran the Eureka Art and Fashion Parlors where she sold clothes patterns and sewing accessories. She was born in Kentucky in 1859; appears to have lived in Berkeley in the mid-1880s, and arrived in Humboldt County soon after. She had three children with her husband J. W. Hamm, who was a ne'er-do-well convicted of forgery in 1892 and sentenced to four years in San Quentin.
According to the Ferndale Enterprise newspaper, by 1894, Lillie was "in destitute circumstances." She taught embroidery classes throughout Humboldt County as a way to make money. Her husband was released from jail and stayed in San Francisco, where he sold real estate and had further run-ins with the authorities. Thereafter, Lillie Hamm styled herself as a widow (see 1900 census). She died in 1901, from appendicitis. Her obituaries mentioned her embroidery work and society memberships; none mention her pioneering publication of this directory.
226 pages. 8-1/2 by 11-1/4 inches.
Edition + Condition: First edition (first printing). A good only copy, with stained and worn covers. A modern ink owner name is written at the front and the back of the book. The hinges are sound.
Publication: Eureka, CA: Daily Humboldt Standard, 1890.
Item No: #360920