The Immigrant and the University: Peder Sather and Gold Rush California

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When Karen Sveen, a Norwegian poet and essayist, came to the University of California at Berkeley for a visiting fellowship, she found that traces of her homeland could be found all around her. One of those traces was the life of Peder Sather, a Norwegian immigrant who came to California during the Gold Rush years and became a leading banker and entrepreneur, as well as one of the founding benefactors of UC Berkeley. Sather emigrated from eastern Norway in the 1830s, and lived in New York and Philadelphia before moving to San Francisco in 1850. He and his partner Edward Church founded Sather & Church, later part of the Bank of California. Sather’s second wife, Jane, donated money to the new University of California campus in Sather’s honor after his death in 1886.

Sveen’s elegiac biography is an intimate and rambling look at Sather, his family and his career. It suffers from a glut of detail at times, and its structure is often rambling, perhaps because it has been translated from its original Norwegian. Despite its flaws, it’s a well-researched addition to the literature on early San Francisco, as well as the experience of Norwegian immigrants in the U.S.


Reviewed By:

Author Karin Sveen, Barbara Haveland, translator
Star Count 3/5
Format Hard
Page Count 295 pages
Publisher University of California Press
Publish Date 2013-Dec-24
ISBN 9780520276482
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue March 2014
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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