Gold Diggers of 1850

We know many Americans traveled to California’s gold fields after discovery of that precious metal at Sutter’s Mill in 1848. It’s easy to forget, however, that the influx of would-be plutocrats into the Golden State included many foreigners.

Abandoned gold mine in Grass Valley, California (CA.gov photo)
Abandoned gold mine in Grass Valley, California (CA.gov photo)

Try this search to locate persons from China living in California using the 1850 U.S. population census:

SEARCH—BIRTH—LOCATION: China (Exact)
SEARCH—LIVED IN: California (Exact)

This search produces 519 results. Checking a person’s occupation will verify if he was a miner or someone who provided goods or services to miners.

We can also easily search for persons born in other foreign countries:

SEARCH—BIRTH—LOCATION: Australia (Exact)
SEARCH—LIVED IN: California (Exact)

This search produces 40 results.

How can researchers access the federal population census? You may use Heritage Quest Online from home with a valid SLPL library card and PIN, or at Central Library or any of our branches.

You may use Ancestry Library Edition at Central Library or any of our branches.

Here’s a list of SLPL reference databases.

We welcome your respectful and on-topic comments and questions in this limited public forum. To find out more, please see Appropriate Use When Posting Content. Community-contributed content represents the views of the user, not those of St. Louis Public Library