The images in this topic clearly illustrate the great ethnic diversity of California's population during the Gold Rush years. People from all over the world hoped to strike it rich in California's gold mines. Soon Europeans, Asians, and African Americans and Native Americans from other parts of the country joined the Native Californians and Californios.
The Gold Rush had a tremendous impact on the population and culture of California. Before the Gold Rush, the population consisted mainly of Native Californians and Californios (settlers and landowners of mixed Spanish, Native Californian, and African descent). But gold fever brought people to California from all over the country and world. The Anglo Americans (of English, Irish, or Scots descent), other Europeans (including Italians, Russians, and others), Chinese, Asians, African Americans, and many more who came and stayed changed the ethnic makeup of the state's population.
Some images show different ethnic groups working and living side by side: in a saloon, a horse market, and along a riverbank mining for gold. The drawing entitled "A Road Scene in California" depicts social changes — European American miners drive a wagon, and a group of Native Americans leaves the mining area as Chinese miners enter it. Daguerreotypes show a group of Chinese and European American pioneers panning for gold; and African Americans working alongside European American pioneers at the mines.
The Modoc War (1872-73) was a result of the conflict between the interests of the European American pioneers and Native Californians. Photographs of various tribes, some taken by noted photographer Eadweard Muybridge, give a glimpse of how they lived.
Three-dimensional stereoscopic views offered people outside of California a glimpse of the West. Stereo views in this topic include portraits of Native Americans and Chinese workers.
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The Gold Rush Era: Diversity in the Changing State curated by University of California staff, available under a CC BY 4.0 license. © 2005, Regents of the University of California.