This inquiry-based lesson explores the life of Charley Parkhurst, who was born female but lived, and gained fame, as a stagecoach driver in late nineteenth century California. The lesson is envisioned as one, among several, that would explore the consequences of the Gold Rush and statehood in California. This lesson centers around gender expression, within a broader conversation about opportunities available to migrants to California during the Gold Rush Era.
This lesson seeks to introduce students to the California Gold Rush by examining the gender stereotypes of the time. This lesson asks students to consider how gender roles and stereotypes have changed since the Gold Rush.
This lesson will increase student’s understanding of Charley Parkhurst and his gender and important contributions in the context of the founding of California and the Westward movement in the mid 1880s. Note that the context of this lesson may be set in 4th, 5th, or 8th grade history content.