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The American Experience (image map with 6 selections)
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The American Experience (image map with 8 selections)
Teacher's Guide

Time period: 1890-1900

Themes: the Gold Rush, the American Dream, frontier life, cultural values

Image of a map of Alaska with
the caption: "The Klondike: a land of great beauty and unvelievable
cruelty."The 1890s in America were desperate times. Economic depression caused bank and business failures and forced millions of men and women from their jobs. When gold was discovered in the frozen unsettled territory between Canada and Alaska, 100,000 people made the treacherous journey in search of riches.

Before Watching

  1. What kinds of people, communities, and lifestyles do you associate with gold rushes?

  2. As a class, brainstorm descriptions of the American Dream. Have students write about what the American Dream means to them.

After Watching
  1. How does what you knew about gold rushes before watching compare with the information presented in the program? How did Klondike gold seekers reflect the American Dream? What other historical events have offered or denied people the American Dream? Is the American Dream different today?

  2. How does the program portray gold seekers? What perspectives are not presented? How might the program be different with those perspectives?

  3. Compare the character, lifestyle, and goals of gold seekers and pioneers. How did each group reflect American values of its time? How did each group shape its community?

  4. Have students research the California and Klondike gold rushes while considering the following questions: How did each gold rush affect people's economic and social opportunities? What were the experiences of women, people of color, and people who were poor? How did people claim or mine land? What were the short term and long term effects of each gold rush?

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