Society for the History of Discoveries


    Len Rothman Portrait    

Leonard Rothman

Former President,
California Map Society
Co-Founder, San Francisco Bay
Area Map Group


The California Gold Rush


Although not the first gold discovery in the U.S., the California Gold Rush was the impetus for the largest mass migration in our History, and for California’s entry into the Union in 1850. It began in 1848, with John Marshall’s discovery of gold along the American River during his employment at Sutter’s Mill, peaked in 1852, when 121 tons were produced, and lasted until 1855. Prospectors and laborers, mostly men (92%), came from around the world. San Francisco became the premier city of California. Equipment and living expenses were very high, and merchants actually made greater fortunes than miners. Environmental impacts were also very high. Ships arriving in San Francisco with supplies, prospectors, laborers, and crew were often abandoned, and sunk into the bay.


A retired physician, now residing in California, Leonard Rothman is a member of the Phillip Lee Phillips Society and the International Map Collectors Society (IMCoS). The extensive Rothman Holy Land Map Collection has recently been digitized by the Rumsey Map Center, and is available to all through Stanford University’s Search Works website of Stanford University. Leonard’s cartography interests are broad, and he is excited to present to the Society on the subject of the California Gold Rush, a fascinating period in history, with many accompanying maps.