Carvalho's Journey

Few westward journeys were as exciting as that taken by American Jewish photographer and artist Solomon Carvalho in 1853–54, with pioneering explorer John C. Fremont’s fifth expedition. Born in 1815 to Sephardic Jews, Carvalho grew up in Charleston, South Carolina’s thriving Jewish community. Gifted in drawing and portraiture, he was also a maker of daguerreotypes, an early form of photography. The ambitious Fremont hired Carvalho to use daguerreotypes to document his westward trip in search of a viable route for a transcontinental railroad. Adventurous but inexperienced, Carvalho rode across mountainous terrain as part of a team that included nearly a dozen Native Americans. Bitter cold, accidents and lack of food led to the trip’s end after 2,400 miles and five months. Near death, Carvalho recuperated in Salt Lake City, where he met Mormon leader Brigham Young with whom he discussed religion. After his recovery, Carvalho helped the small Jewish community in Los Angeles before returning East to his wife and children. In 1857, Carvalho published a brilliant memoir of his adventures. In his own account of the journey, however, Fremont never credited Carvalho. Stunning photography, modern-day daguerreotypes by Robert Shlar, reproductions of illustrations made from Carvalho’s own work and the words of noted historians enliven this portrait of a remarkable man. —Sara Rubin
Director(s)
Country(ies)
USA
Language(s)
w/English Subtitle
Release Year
Festival Year(s)
Running Time
85