Guided Primary Source Analysis: The Way They Go to California

The way they go to California
Currier & Ives. “The way they go to California.” C 1849. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection. Summary: Gold rush cartoon, showing dock crowded with men with picks and shovels, and men jumping from the dock to reach departing ship; a crowded airship and a man on a rocket fly overhead; and a man with a pick and shovel parachutes from the airship.

What different types of transportation are these men trying to use to get to California?

Cartoonists sometimes exaggerate, or overdo, physical characteristics of people and things. Zoom into a more detailed image of this cartoon and look for examples of exaggeration. Describe one example and explain why it is a form of exaggeration for this situation.

Find out about how people really got to California during the gold rush. Choose one person’s story and provide a summary of it.

What other observations, reflections or questions does this source inspire?