Van Valen’s Gold Rush Journey

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.

National Standards

United States History Standards (Grades 5-12)

World History Standards (Grades 5-12)

Historical Thinking Standards (Grades 5-12)

Standards For English Language Arts (Grades K-12)