Have you ever wondered about the people who struck it rich? How accurate are the stories we read today in history books? Did they really get rich? How much money did they get? Or did they get something besides money?
There have been many gold strikes in Alaska. The stories have been written and rewritten many times. Here is a version of the discovery of gold by Felix Pedro in 1902 outside of what is today Fairbanks.
Use the map to help follow the story. What parts of the story are unbelievable? How could you check for accuracy? What kind of source is this? Is it a primary source? Why or why not?
What do you know about Joe Juneau? Why do you think he explored the Gastineau Channel area? Sometimes the person who discovers the gold and stakes a claim decides to sell it. What reasons would you have to sell something? What makes land valuable?
There are many types of documents that are safely stored in libraries and archives. Although at first glance they appear to be quite simple, they can tell important parts of a story. Study the Quitclaim Deed.
Are there any unique physical qualities of the document? (Interesting letterhead, handwritten, seals, official seals, etc.) What is the date? Who created the document? Why was it made? What information about the Alaska gold rush can you infer (conclude by reasoning) from this document? What did Joe sell? Why would the Sitka Trading Company want it?
Sometimes simple documents contain many clues. Consider the controversy about the city of Juneau. What evidence does the Quitclaim Deed provide that might be used for or against the correct name for Juneau? Find out more about Joe Juneau, the discovery of gold in Juneau, the town that bears his name and the legacy he left behind. The History of Alaska's Gold Rush.
Who discovered it? A timeline and background about the various discoveries can be found on many web sites or in books. Try your own search. Here are some good places to start: