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Gold Rush - Boom! Town

Gold Rush - Boom! Town

Author: Jason Symes

Learn more about the California Gold Rush

Learn how to narrow the focus of a project from a large topic to a more specific one

Learn how to incorporate primary source material into your learning 

Learn how to make connections/links from the learning of the past to current times

The California Gold Rush brought millions of people from all around the world into California in hopes of striking it rich.  With all these new citizens towns sprung up overnight and often dissappeared just as quickly.  We are going to look into the rise and fall of a boom town during these times.  We will also try to connect our learning to the idea of progress of a nation.


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Find a Good Overview of Your Area of Interest

  • I've got two overviews here, the first is a video that lists a lot of different topics that could come out of this topic, as you listen, write down topics and terms that may be helpful to your research.
  • California Gold Rush Video


  • The second overview is a website.  Each paragraph represents a new idea that may make for an area of closer research.  You can skim each paragraph for ideas, writing down the topics and terms that may be helpful to your research.
  • California Gold Rush Website


Research Question?


After picking out what some of the sub-topics for mining might be, think of some research questions.  If you write out research questions for a few topics, then questions that interest you can guide you to the appropriate sub-topic.



With a partner or small group, write out 10 possible research questions for the topics you developed in segment #1 of this tutorial.



Sacremento - A New City


Sacremento was a new city that was built up and developed as a result of the Gold Rush.  Look at this picture and write down what you observe.  Once you have written down your observations, predict what the "Pros" and "Cons" of living in a quickly growing city like Sacremento might entail at this moment in history.

Source: Picture: Ville de Sacramento, Californie December, 1849 Paris, Auguste Bry

When Cities Grow Too Fast

Look at the following image and read the writing at the bottom of the poster.  (You'll have to blow it up using Ctrl +) 

  • What is the problem that the authors of this poster are trying to address. 


  • Why do you think some people in the community would opposed to setting up a plan for governing the city?


  • Next visit this website, read the summary on the left, and look at some of the pictures. 

Website:  Murder and Mayhem:  The California Gold Rush

  • How might the people in these photos take advantage of the gold rush? 
  • What kind of justice is there in California at this time? 
  • What do you notice about the people in the photographs?


Source: Photo: Proclamation to the People of Sacramento City by Order of President and City Council Sacramento City, October 1, 1849. Website: University of California

Change in California


Open the PDF linked below and discover what some of the other changes that occurred during the California Gold Rush.

While reading this page, and all others, keep in mind the unit's essential question, Are the Changes in the United States during the 1800's considered to be progress?  Answer that questions with everything you find, then balance out the answers to come to your final conclusion.


How did California Change (pdf)

America the Story of Us - California Gold Rush Meaning to US History

At the end of the day, you need to determine whether this era was one that moved our nation and its people forward, or if it was a step in the wrong direction.  The attached video and form for notes can help you determine your feeling.  Use a format similar to this when assessing whether your own research indicates and era of progress or not.


Create two columns in your notes, one titled "Pros", one titled "Cons", and the other titled "New Info".  Watch the video clip (2:47), "America, the Story of Us - California Gold Rush".  While watching the video fill in the columns of in your notebook with the information found within the video.  Pause the video or rewatch as necessary to make sure you have all the relevant information.