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 come alive. 

"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 

Volume 1 Introduction
Page 1