This small piece of yellow metal is believed to be the first piece of gold discovered in 1848 at
Grade Range: 6-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Sources, Interactives & Media, Lessons & Activities, Worksheets
Duration: 220 minutes
Date Posted: 4/27/2010
Investigate the authentic journal of Alex Van Valen, a man who set sail in 1849 to stake his claim in the California gold fields, to discover what life was like during the gold rush. This dynamic project from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History includes student questions to help guide research, rich primary sources, images of artifacts and background information. The student materials can be completed on paper or using the interactive PDF format that allows students to create beautiful publications from their research. The teacher guide includes suggested discussion questions for the introduction and conclusion classes, answers to the student questions, a sheet of Frequently Asked Questions about the gold rush journal, and a summary of what Smithsonian curators learned about the journal's author. Although intended as a project, elements of the site could also be used independently to develop historical research skills.
United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)
World History Standards (Grades 5-12)
2: The causes and consequences of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, 1700-1850
3: The transformation of Eurasian societies in an era of global trade and rising European power, 1750-1870
4: Patterns of nationalism, state-building, and social reform in Europe and the Americas, 1830-1914
5: Patterns of global change in the era of Western military and economic domination, 1800-1914
6: Major global trends from 1750-1914
Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5-12)
1B: Identify the temporal structure of a historical narrative or story.
1C: Establish temporal order in constructing students' own historical narratives.
1D: Measure and calculate calendar time.
1E: Interpret data presented in time lines.
1F: Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration; explain historical continuity and change.
1G: Compare alternative models for periodization.
2B: Reconstruct the literal meaning of a historical passage.
2C: Identify the central question(s) the historical narrative addresses.
2D: Differentiate between historical facts and historical interpretations.
2E: Read historical narratives imaginatively.
2F: Appreciate historical perspectives.
2G: Draw upon data in historical maps.
2H: Utilize visual, mathematical, and quatitative data.
2I: Draw upon the visual, literary, and musical sources.
3B: Consider multiple perspectives.
3C: Analyze cause-and-effect relationships.
3D: Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues.
3E: Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical evidence.
3F: Compare competing historical narratives.
3G: Challenge arguments of historical inevitability.
3H: Hold interpretations of history as tentative.
3I: Evaluate major debates among historians.
3J: Hypothesize the influence of the past.
4B: Obtain historical data from a variety of sources.
4C: Interrogate historical data.
4D: Identify the gaps in the available records, marshal contextual knowledge and perspectives of the time and place.
4E: Employ quantitative analysis.
4F: Support interpretations with historical evidence.
Standards For English Language Arts (Grades K-12)
7: Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
8: Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.