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A Boardinghouse Keeper Describes “Toil and Fatigue” in the California Gold Rush (with text supports)

Mary Ballou and her husband ran a boarding house in a California gold mining town. Ballou’s letter to her son, written in 1852, evokes the rough housing, violence, and high prices (from which the Ballous profited) in California during the gold rush. She also describes how the few women there provided each other with companionship and consolation. Ballou’s references to “the States” suggest how far from home California must have felt, since California had been a state, for two years when she wrote this letter. Spelling and grammar changes have been made to improve clarity.


Source | Mary B. Ballou, “I Hear the Hogs in My Kitchen”: A Woman’s View of the Gold Rush, ed. Archibald Hanna (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1962), reprinted in Christiane Fischer, ed., Let Them Speak for Themselves: Women in the American West, 1849–1900 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1977), pp. 42–46.
Creator | Mary Ballou
Item Type | Diary/Letter
Cite This document | Mary Ballou, “A Boardinghouse Keeper Describes “Toil and Fatigue” in the California Gold Rush (with text supports),” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 21, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1728.

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