California Dreamin’: The Pioneer Valley and the Gold Rush

PVHN received a grant from Mass Humanities to survey local collections for materials pertaining to the Gold Rush in western Massachusetts and created a companion website featuring some of the fascinating stories and a database of local materials on the Gold Rush.

Read Gold Rush Stories about Pioneer Valley residents who dared to go west!

The California Gold Rush, which began 160 years ago, was an important phase of American history.  It had an enormous impact on migration, land development, the slavery debate, and the nation’s economy.  Many pioneers from western Massachusetts played important roles in the development of California, and many of those who returned to New England built on their western adventures to achieve positions of stature and importance in our communities. This project has three components:

a) a research inventory, which has been distributed to MassHumanities and twelve participating museums and historical societies.  The inventory has been posted in six parts:

California Dreamin1 — Intro & Objects
California Dreamin2 — Diaries, Journals, Logs, Memoirs
California Dreamin3 — Letters
California Dreamin4 — Other Documents
California Dreamin5a — Images
California Dreamin5b — Images
California Dreamin6 — Published Accounts

b) a spreadsheet of known participants in the Gold Rush with a connection to the Pioneer Valley

c) a website, “Gold Rush Stories,” that includes images and descriptions of some of the California pioneers from western Massachusetts

PVHN has undertaken this project in the hopes that it will bring many historical groups together to demonstrate the power of collaboration and the benefits of working together.