On Saturday, June 22, AAS will hold an interactive workshop for educators entitled Mining for Minerals: The Pull of the West that explores the search for gold and silver in the west and the impact that it had on immigration, economic development, the environment, Native Americans and social interactions. Led by Middlebury College professor Kathyrn Morse, the daylong program will explore a variety of materials from the AAS collections providing rich context to literary works by Mark Twain and Brete Harte. The day will include a variety of methodologies for educators to use these materials in multidisciplinary ways and thus enrich history, language arts, visual studies and literature classes.
Among the many items that will be studied during this workshop is this lettersheet, “The Miner’s Ten Commandments,” which reimagines the Ten Commandments God handed to Moses in the Old Testament as advice to people seeking gold in California. Published in San Francisco by J.M. (James Mason) Hutchings in 1853, “The Miner’s Ten Commandments” was an enormous success selling 97,000 copies in one year alone.
This lettersheet is in fact stationary as the verso contains faint blue lines to guide the reader in creating his own missive presumably addressed to loved ones back home. Those back home are acknowledged at the end of the satirical text with these lines: “A new Commandment give I unto thee — if thou hast a wife and little ones, that thou lovest dearer than thy life — that thou keep them continually before thee, to cheer and urge thee onward until thou canst say, ‘I have enough — God bless them — I will return.’”
We still have openings in this workshop and encourage you all to come find your fortune in intellectual riches at the Mining for Minerals: The Pull of the West workshop on June 22.