Not all gold rushes are created equal, argues Christopher Herbert
, Associate Professor of History at Columbia Basin College. Dr. Herbert’s new book, Gold Rush Manliness: Race and Gender on the Pacific Slope
(University of Washington Press, 2018) is a comparative study of Western gold rushes in British Columbia and California. Herbert argues that conceptions of what it meant to be white, what it meant to present as male, and what it meant to specifically be a white man taking part in a gold rush differed depending on when and where an individual stood. Clothing, cleanliness, routes of travel, and extracurricular activities like gambling all mattered quite a bit in identifying as part of a racial or gender group in the chaotic Gold Rush West. Herbert offers a new take on an old subject and demonstrates the power of comparative history to find new perspectives on well-worn stories.
Stephen Hausmann is a doctoral candidate at Temple University and Visiting Instructor of history at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently writing his dissertation, a history of race and the environment in the Black Hills and surrounding northern plains region of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana.