Gold Rush Women

When Gold was discovered in California, greed prompted the greatest migration of people that the world had ever seen in peacetime; a migration of mostly men who expected to get rich quick and return home to the East Coast. Those women who did accompany their husbands and fathers experienced severe hardships just getting through hostile terrain with their lives and worldly goods. In 1849 alone nearly 80,000 gold-seekers converged on California. Overland statistics for that first year of the Golden Emigration phenomena are imprecise, but about forty percent came by ship and those travelers are better documented. The San Francisco Harbormaster counted more than 41,000 Americans and foreigners who disembarked there in 1849. Of that number, only 599 were women. March is National Women’s History Month.


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