“California as I Saw It”: First-Person Narratives of California's Early Years, 1849-1900
Historical Analysis and Interpretation
Students will find a wealth of materials that will prove useful in the historical analysis of the period. With so many items covering the same time and place, the collection is well suited for comparitive consideration of different journals, diaries, and books. Students can choose any number of topics to compare and contrast, such as early settlement of the state, success or failure in the Gold Rush, or overland travel from the point of view of women as compared to men.
For example, students might compare the experiences of people making a living in very different ways. By searching on occupations such as farmer and missionary, they can find texts such as:
We always had chickens on our farm, not penned up as they are now on chicken ranches, but free to wander, except inside the picket-fence that surrounded the house and flower garden. Coops of fryers were taken to market in the spring, and many dozen eggs were sold through the year. When Mother made more butter than was consumed at home, the surplus was taken to market. There were no creameries to furnish butter, as there are today.
Lilian A. Cross, Appreciation of Loved Ones Who Made Life Rich for Many, Chapter XV, p. 54
Saturday was spent, as usual, in visiting members of the congregation, and particularly one young man who was lying at the hotel, in the last stage of consumption. ...There is something indeed dreadful in thus dying, away from home, without a friend or relative to stand by the bed-side--to feel the longing for "old familiar faces" in that last hour of nature's feebleness, as, in this case, where, resigned to all that should befall him in the coming world, the sick boy declared his only regret to be that he could not see his family. And yet, how many die in this way in California--without even a friend to close their eyes,--abandoned to servants--or more frequently, in the interior, without any attendance at all. How many thousands, for whom friends at home are anxiously looking, have died without leaving even the record of a name behind them, and now are lying in nameless graves on the hill-sides or river banks!
Rev. William Ingraham Kip, The Early Days of My Episcopate, Chapter XII, p. 113