We are publishing a book on African American History that focuses on the black miners who came to work in the goldfields and mining camps during the California Gold Rush. We are asking you to help us make this a reality. Most people have no idea that thousands of African Americans came to California starting in the 1840s to live and work. Our goal is to create a very nice book that can make its way into schools, libraries, museums, and homes. “Each $50 contributor will receive a copy of the book. If you contribute $100, you’ll receive two books!”
Any amount on the fundraiser will be appreciated, all monies go towards publishing costs, the book will retail for around $25
This book is a compilation of a number of years of research and the collaboration of community members, scholars, and writers. This book introduces the previously unknown historical material, as well as authors, and our journey documenting African American history in far northern California, during the gold rush
. In 2018 we received funding to create community-based performing art and education project that we called the Golden Ghosts Project.
We worked with the local communities of Siskiyou County and the city of Redding to present information about the little-known history of African Americans
who came to this Northern California
area during the gold rush
of the 1850s. We created skits and historical presentations of what life for African Americans may have been like in this remote area of northern California. Siskiyou County where many of the Negro mine
sites are located is considered to be the location of the “Second Motherload”
in the California gold rush.
Documents from the census records, a few newspaper articles and a rare historical account were all we had to recreate these conditions in the northern mining camps as there were no other records or diaries to be found except for the diary of Alvin Coffey
who arrived as a slave
and worked in the mines to buy his freedom
around present-day Redding, CA. Researching further, reading Rudolf Lapp
and Delilah Beasley
it was apparent that there is really no literature or information about the far northern California's black men and women who came and worked in the gold mining activities.
After finding the census records of black miners with the assistance of our archeologist we discovered actual mine sites occupied by African Americans in the rivers and tributaries in Siskiyou County. When telling our story to audiences it became clear that none of this information had made it into the history books and we could now safely say that no one knew that African Americans participated in the gold rush and that slavery was allowed in early California! Part of the goal of this book was to create an introduction to the realities of African Americans who were here in the 1850s and as the project grew we included the first Africans who arrived with the Spanish in what is now Los Angeles.
Like all in-person presentations, we were hit hard by Covid 19 and the closing of live venues. It was then we decided to create this book and continue to get this information out to the public. The book is complete with eighteen essays on African American history of early California. Contributors include some very well-known published authors as well as some first-time writers who participated in our project. The book details some of our trips to African American mine sites in the Siskiyous and includes many historic and contemporary images. I can guarantee that most of this information about black miners will be new to you as it is seeing print for the first time. Hence this book is for anyone interested in California history, African American history, and the struggles for equality and civil rights in the west. The time is NOW for this work to finally get out to the general public.
Please be part of this important project.