Women of the California Gold Rush
“I have become a mineress; that is, if the having washed a pan of dirt with my own hands, and procured therefrom three dollars and twenty-five cents in gold dust…will entitle me to the name. I can truly say, with the blacksmith’s apprentice at the close of his first day’s work at the anvil, ‘I am sorry I learned the trade;’ for I wet my feet, tore my dress, spoilt a pair of new gloves, nearly froze my fingers, got an awful headache, took cold and lost a valuable breastpin, in this my labor of love.” - Louise Clappe
Of the 40,000 people who arrived by ship in the San Francisco harbor in 1849, only 700 were women.
For the few women who braved the harsh journey to Gold Country, freedom, independence, and the chance to forge a living and identity separate from male family members beckoned them towards the west.