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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Chart of Native American Child Apprentices, 1861

California passed two laws that established a system of Indian apprenticeship. The laws made it easy for any white person to claim young Indian laborers by taking a list of names to a judge and getting the judge’s signature. Sympathetic [...]

An Indian Child Apprentice Poses for a Photographer

This photograph of a Native American child apprentice was taken near Red Bluff, Tehama County, California. The boy, about ten years old, would be “bound” to a master until he was 25, as California law apprenticed boys under 14 until [...]

Miners Search for Gold in Two Phases of the Gold Rush

In the early days of the Gold Rush, miners practiced “placer mining” along rivers and streams. Miners washed gravel and other sediments in pans and sluice boxes; though tedious, this type of mining did not require expensive equipment and [...]

Tags: Gold Rush
Item Type: Photograph
Miners Describe Life and Business in the California Gold Rush

Unlike earlier generations of Americans, many of the ‘49ers could read and write. Not surprisingly, thousands recorded their observations and experiences in letters and journals. Miners often reflected on changes in mining that made it [...]

Tags: Gold Rush
Item Type: Diary/Letter
Graphs Showing Miners' Wages and Value of Gold Production, 1848-1860

In the early days of the Gold Rush, a miner could earn a typical year’s wages in a few days. With so much cash on hand, stores and boarding houses charged unheard-of prices for food, shelter and supplies. Increased competition, due to a [...]

A California Newspaper Deplores the Foreign Miner's Tax

Within months of statehood, the California legislature passed the Foreign Miner’s Tax, which required immigrant miners to pay $20 a month for the privilege of mining in the state. The unbearably high tax drove many Latin American miners back [...]

A California Newspaper Deplores the Foreign Miner's Tax (with text supports)

Within months of statehood, the California legislature passed the Foreign Miner’s Tax, which required immigrant miners to pay $20 a month for the privilege of mining in the state. The unbearably high tax drove many Latin American miners back [...]

Latin American and French Miners Protest the Foreign Miner's Tax

French- and Spanish-speaking miners posted this notice around Sonora County, California in May, 1850. The month before, the California legislature had passed a Foreign Miners’ Tax that required immigrant miners to pay $20 every month for the [...]

Latin American and French Miners Protest the Foreign Miner’s Tax (with text supports)

French- and Spanish-speaking miners posted this notice around Sonora County, California in May, 1850. The month before, the California legislature had passed a Foreign Miners’ Tax that required immigrant miners to pay $20 every month for the [...]