They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush

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Overview

"The phrase ’seeing the elephant’ symbolized for ’49 gold rushers the exotic, the mythical, the once-in-a-lifetime adventure, unequaled anywhere else but in the journey to the promised land of fortune: California. Most western myths . . . generally depict an exclusively male gold rush. Levy’s book debunks that myth. Here a variety of women travel, work, and write their way across the pages of western migrant history."-Choice

"One of the best and most comprehensive accounts of gold rush life to date"ˆ–San Francisco Chronicle

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“The phrase ‘seeing the elephant’ symbolized for ’49 gold rushers the exotic, the mythical, the once-in-a-lifetime adventure, unequaled anywhere else but in the journey to the promised land of fortune: California. Most western myths . . . generally depict an exclusively male gold rush. Levy’s book debunks that myth. Here a variety of women travel, work, and write their way across the pages of western migrant history.”—Choice

“In a lively, truly delightful style, JoAnn Levy traces the neglected history of women’s experiences in the California gold rush. This is no familiar retelling of the usual gold rush narrative, but a totally new story with women responding vigorously and positively to crisis both on the trail and in California. Ms. Levy’s fine narrative is enhanced by revealing quotations from so many little-known women diarists and from guide books that it serves as a source and reference book as well. For those interested in women’s history and in western history, this volume is a must.”—Howard F. Lamar, editor of ?The New Encyclopedia of the American West

They Saw the Elephant is beautiful, brilliant, funny and brave. It’s hard to read this book without laughing out loud—or choking back tears.”—Carolyn See, author of Golden Days

“One of the best and most comprehensive accounts of gold rush life to date.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Booknews
Levy explains the meaning of the expression "seeing the elephant" during the California gold rush and then tells about the experiences of women, interspersing her text with excerpts from diaries and journals and concluding with brief biographies of 17 women participants. Many of the women shared the same eagerness for adventure as the men (in contrast to the conventional image of the long-suffering martyr accompanying her husband). Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806124735
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 499,091
  • Product dimensions: 8.92 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

JoAnn Levy is a free-lance writer born and raised in California. She lives in Los Angeles, but is most at home in a mountainside cabin near the Old Okum mine in the Sierra Nevada Mother Lode.

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