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Westward Ho! Michiganders and the California Gold Rush   

C  In-Person Class: This class will be taught in person, in the classroom at the Red Cross building.
    Enrollment: The American Red Cross pandemic protocols may limit the enrollment for this class.
    Registrants will be informed in advance, and a waitlist will be available.

The California Gold Rush was one of the most important events of the 19th century. It was America’s epic adventure, and Michigan 49ers risked cholera, swollen rivers, rattlesnake bites, and all manner of accidents to get there. Some struck gold. Most did not. Regardless, the experience forever altered the lives of those who participated, as well as the lives of the people left behind. Join us as we make the journey west with a group from Marshall, Michigan, who dubbed their outfit “The Wolverine Rangers.” Their letters to friends and loved ones describe their triumphs, failures, joys, and moments requiring phenomenal courage. The letters reveal the ways by which Michigan left its imprint on California, and how the Gold Rush transformed lives in Michigan.


Kathleen Chamberlain holds an M.A. in Western history from the University of Colorado/Denver and a Ph.D. in United States history from the University of New Mexico. Her areas of specialization are Native Americans and the Old West. Kathleen taught American history at Eastern Michigan University for more than 15 years, retiring in 2016. She has published extensively, and is currently writing a book titled Women Who Loved and Hated Billy the Kid for the University of Oklahoma Press.