Dr. Claudine Chalmers is an independent scholar with a special interest in California’s French heritage. Born and raised in Cannes, France, she first fell in love with California at age sixteen as an exchange student in Palo Alto. After completing her studies in French, American, and comparative literature at the University of Nice, France, she returned to California and settled in Mill Valley.
A freelance writer for the Random House textbook division for many years, she completed her Agrégation by correspondence in 1977, and her dissertation on “The French Adventure in Gold Rush San Francisco, 1849-1854,” in 1991, both with the University of Nice. She was recently made a “Chevalier” of the French Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, for her efforts to bring back to life the important presence of the French and their culture in the making of California.
She now lives in California’s Gold Country, half way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. Her new home and research were featured in the April 2006 “San Francisco” episode of Thalassa, a French television program similar to KQED’s historical documentaries. She is presently at work on several projects concerning California’s French Argonauts, including a trade edition of her art book, Splendide Californie: French Artists’ Impressions of the Golden State, 1786-1900(Book Club of California, 2001), winner of a silver medal award from the Commonwealth Club of California; and “A Great Western Odyssey,” the story of two French “Special Artists” who sketched the American Frontier on a coast to coast assignment for Harper’s Weekly in 1873 & 1874. She appeared in January 2011 in a documentary on a French Canadian family, the Beaudrys, in “L’Aventure Française”, by Productions Rivard.
This website was started in response to the many inquiries she receives from collectors, historians, journalists, history buffs, teachers & students, genealogists and descendents of French Californian pioneers.