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Keywords

California – Marysville; Civilization — German influences; German Americans; Gold mines and mining; History

Abstract

Histories of California addressing the years after the discovery of gold neglect the impact of European-born ethnic minorities on their new residences, particularly those living in the smaller cities that grew to meet the demands of the gold miners. The white newcomers to California during the gold rush years were not a homogeneous collection of Anglo-Saxon protestants. German immigrants, despite their small numbers, were a significant presence in the growing permanent cities of California such as Marysville. In that City, the third largest in California during the 1850s, the number of Germans who came and permanently stayed grew over the decade. Pushed by conditions in their homeland and pulled by the lure of economic prosperity, they formed themselves into an ethnically and culturally bound community in the midst of downtown Marysville. Through activities of their Turnverein and Liederkranz, they reinforced their identity as Germans by maintaining the economic and cultural customs they had learned in their homeland. At the same time, they interacted with their Anglo-American neighbors, ultimately influencing them to add German traditions to the culture of the City. Marysville and the German immigrants who resided there, however, have received little attention from contemporary historians. Die Deutschen von Marysville seeks to correct that omission and attempts to be a model for other, future re-examinations of California’s Gold Rush histories to determine the impact of Germans on other California communities besides Marysville and the influence of other European-based ethnic immigrants on the development of California during this time.


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