Myth & Reality:
The California Gold Rush and Its Legacy
A literacy and primary source-based curriculum
In the spring of 1997, more than 75 teachers from throughout California
field-tested the new curriculum "Myth & Reality: The California Gold
Rush and Its Legacy." The following quotes from the evaluations reflect
the results of the field-testing and confirm our belief that giving students
meaningful access to high-quality primary source materials can make history
"Using primary source materials gave history a real 'voice' in students'
view. Their incorporation of a voice in their reflective journal writing
was creative while using details and facts found in primary source materials.
Students seem to become immersed in the facts of their journeys and know
that they are in a search when they do their reading to make their own
stories believable. I feel the use of primary source materials makes history
more real and exciting for students."
"I'm a firm believer in using primary sources because it's a way of
providing the multiple perspectives called for in the California State
Frameworks. You provided so many teacher tools that even someone who had
never used them before would find ways to implement the practice."
"Myth & Reality: The California Gold Rush and Its Legacy" is a curriculum
series that has been prepared as part of the commemoration of the 150th
anniversary of the California Gold Rush. As the Oakland Museum of California,
we are committed "to the development of exemplary collections, exhibitions
and educational services that promote public understanding of California's
art, history and environment, and are responsive, accessible and relevant
to the state's diverse and multicultural populations." The 150th anniversary
of the Gold Rush presented an invaluable opportunity to bring together
materials that shed greater light on the significance of this historical
event and its legacy.
This curriculum series relies on primary source materials to teach history.
Separate volumes have been created for grades four, five, eight, and
eleven. All the lessons presented in these volumes relate directly to strands
in the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.
Teachers should note that these materials are supplemental and not comprehensive.
They were designed to be used in conjunction with your other resources.
Our goal was to provide primary source materials from collections that
offer additional resources for teachers to use in the classroom, to make
the history of the Gold Rush and its significance more authentic and immediate.
Materials for this curriculum have been drawn from the Oakland Museum's
collections as well as those of other museums and libraries. These primary
sources include an array of daguerreotype images (early photographs), cartoons
and art reproductions in addition to excerpts from letters, diaries and
newspapers of the time.
Included in the "Primary Source Activities" section are student worksheets
and suggestions for class discussions to engage students in "reading" primary
source materials critically, for information. These strategies are designed
to develop students' visual literacy and critical-thinking skills as they
experience the excitement of conducting historical research.
Field-testing, conducted in the spring of 1997, confirmed that incorporating
primary source materials
into the curriculum makes history more authentic
and alive for all students, including