Time period: 1890-1900
Themes: the Gold Rush, the American Dream, frontier life, cultural
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.
- What kinds of people, communities, and lifestyles do you associate
with gold rushes?
- As a class, brainstorm descriptions of the American Dream. Have
students write about what the American Dream means to them.
- 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?
- How does the program portray gold seekers? What perspectives are not
presented? How might the program be different with those perspectives?
- 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?
- 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?