DISCOVERY OF GOLD
Discovery of Gold uses thought-provoking questions to take students back
in time to explore what it might have been like during the Alaska gold
rush period, 1880-1914. Using primary source documents
students think about what it means to take a risk and become an adventurer.
Questions about specific people and places guide students to evaluate
historical facts. Students are challenged to consider different perspectives
or points of view.
State Content Standards
State Content Standards addressed in Discovery. Students
will be able to:
that history is a narrative told in many voices and expresses various
perspectives (History: A5)
that cultural belief systems reflect the ideas and attitudes of a specific
time and know that cultural elements influence human interaction (History:
- Use historical
data from a variety of sources (History: C2)
- Use information
to understand self (Eng/L.A: E1)
- Use maps
to locate places and regions (Geo:A1)
how and why maps are changing documents (Geo:A3)
how places are named (Geo:B2)
the importance of the historical and current role of Alaskan Native
communities (Gov/Civ: C4)
Student Learning in Discovery
have prepared an overview of selected standards and activities using the
Edgren Saga to help you evaluate how well the students are mastering the
standard. This is provided as one example to help you design appropriate
projects or other activities that demonstrate learning.
student progress toward standards based on the Edgren
Saga: Chapter 1: Gold Fever Reaches Wisconsin
who meet the standards can demonstrate their knowledge and understanding
through discussion, in writing or in a project
discussing or writing about the Edgren letters students are able
to: (answers will vary)
that history is a narrative told in many voices and expresses various
that there are two different people who are telling the story. It
is their view of going to the Klondike in 1898. Jesse is an educated
man with dreams of finding riches in the gold fields. He is focused
on the activities along the way. Mae is a newly married young woman
who seems to be having an adventure, gives lots of details about
the people and places, focuses on the day-to-day events along the
that cultural belief systems reflect the ideas and attitudes of
a specific time and know that cultural elements influence human
interaction (History: A6)
that the writers come from another part of the United States, Mae
sees her role as a helper to her husband, worries about how her
family in Wisconsin, likes popular magazines, garden parties, dancing,
historical data from a variety of sources (History: C2)
put the events of Jesse and Mae's life in sequence from documents
and newspaper articles
information to understand self (Eng/L.A : E1)
would I have felt about getting married and immediately going off
to the gold fields?
I being willing to leave my family?
maps to locate places and regions (Geo.:A1)
Madison Wisconsin, Seattle, and Klondike and forecast the route
they will take.
predict possible route from Madison to Seattle.
Resources for Discovery
- Web sites:
Founding of Juneau by Robert N. DeArmond, (1967), Gastineau Channel
Centennial Association, Juneau, AK.
A History of the 49th State by Claus-M. Naske and Herman E. Slotnick.
(1979). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.
students begin the activities, brainstorm what they already know about
the discovery of gold in Alaska. As a class or individually create a graphic
organizer or a Time Line of Alaska
Gold Rushes to help sequence events and people. Use it during your study
of the Alaska gold rush.
Extension Ideas for the theme Discovery
1: Why Take a Risk?
does an adventurer look like?
we have adventurers today? Visit the GOALS
website. Follow the adventurers who are tracking the Alaska wolf
or caribou. How are they alike or different from the early gold-seekers?
What characteristics are similar?
things inspired them?
a music teacher come to the class and help with singing or performing
music from the gold rush era and play it.
risks did they take to find gold?
English or reading text to help you check students' understanding
of author's purpose.
2: Who Strikes it Rich?
- The May
1903 Fairbanks Miner was the first paper printed in Fairbanks. Point
out that it was typed on a typewriter. Students may enjoy researching
what a typewriter from 1903 looked like. Visit the following site: Typewriter
a Readers Theatre.
students use the newspaper to write a script, creating as many characters
as possible to re-enact the story of the gold discovery. Students
can research the clothing and appropriate objects that would have
been used at this time.
Felix: An Interview with Felix Pedro.
the class into two teams. Both teams research the discovery at Pedro
Creek using the newspaper and other available sources. Be sure to
keep track of where you learned the information. Make up a list
of questions about Felix's discovery you would like to ask him.
Each group takes a turn asking a question to the other group. One
person on each team is designated "Felix" but the whole team can
help him or her respond. The team that asked the question must be
able to give an answer based on "documented" evidence. The team
that can successfully stump the other team with three questions,
wins the game.
different students to select and report on the other articles in
can check for historical accuracy by comparing facts in an Alaska
history textbook and what they read in the newspaper.
the enlarged area of the Fairbanks map to approximately locate Pedro
Creek. (It is not named on the map.) How did Pedro and the surrounding
creeks get their names? How many other locations on the map can
students identify and guess how the names were recorded? Check for
answers in an Alaska Geographic Source book like Dictionary of Alaska
Place Names, Geological Survey (1967) #567.
- Did Joe
Juneau get rich?
How does a town get its name? Students may want to follow the controversy
between Joe Juneau and Richard Harris to see why the name of one
is used to day. Resources: The Founding of Juneau by Robert N. DeArmond,
(1967) Gastineau Channel Centennial Association, Juneau, AK. Also
see page 69 in Alaska, A History of the 49th State by Claus-M. Naske.
in Alaska was gold discovered? Who discovered it?
Use additional web sites, books and materials to help fill in
the historical chronology.
Create a timeline or other graphic organizer to use throughout the
The History of
the Alaska Gold Rush
is of the largest nugget found by miners Joseph and Phillip Ernst,
who operated the first gold dredge in Nome. The nugget was found
circa 1905. Alaska State Museum
3: Is It Fair?
- Who really
found the gold?
people in old photographs is a challenge because records either
weren't kept or don't survive. Ask students to go home and see how
many photographs they can find with the name, place and date written
neatly in pencil on the back. Encourage student to start documenting
their own history by labeling things like photographs.
- Who owns
students to consider the need to survey and establish exact boundaries
in neighborhood and between people's property.
your students to do more research: On March 6, 1903 the committee
to decide the boundaries was appointed. When was the decision finally
Natives own land?
SA notation on this activity alerts you to this topic possibly being
a sensitive area for discussion. It is important that you feel prepared
and comfortable when students begin to debate and think about this
issue. The concept of Alaska Native rights is also explored in the
theme, Our Legacy.
A History of the 49th State, by Claus-M. Naske (1987) pp. 186-208.
History by Harry Ritter (1997) pp.120-121
informative web sites:
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