How to Use This Site

This website is an archive of documents spanning a period of well over a hundred years. The first documents are government reports dating from the years just before and during the gold rush. There is very little material from the pre-1890 period relating to the search for gold, because the government paid only slight attention to the region before the discovery was made. There were no officials stationed in the region until the first detachment of Mounted Police arrived in 1895.

These are the real documents, typed or resized, but otherwise exactly as they appear in the archives. Even the many typographical errors and the spelling mistakes have been kept as they appear in the original documents. These are often followed by the word [sic] in square brackets; this is Latin for “thus” and means that the mistake is in the original, not in the copy. You will encounter these documents in much the same way as would any historian who goes into the archives.

Your job is to do the detective work to piece together the story of what happened, why it happened and what the outcomes were. Like any mystery, the documents contain clues, contradictions and even some misinformation. You will find plenty of contradictions, because of course each of the contenders has a case, and the evidence for one will conflict with the evidence for another. Where necessary we have added comments in [square brackets]. Where we could not read a word we indicated this by [illegible] and where we have guessed at a word we have added [?] after it. If we have left words out to make the document shorter, the gaps are indicated by [...].

Surfing the Site:

The Who Discovered Klondike Gold? Website is divided into six main sections shown at the top of this page under the titles: Home, Contexts, Contenders, Aftermath, Archives and Interpretations. Click on the buttons to surf through these key sections. Each of the titles of the six sections is a clickable button that will lead either to an introduction for the section, and then to the documents, images, or subsections. Home is a short introduction to the gold rush; Context puts the gold rush into historical context; Contenders is divided into subsections that lead to documentation supporting (or opposing in some cases) each person’s claim to be the discoverer; and Aftermath tells what happened in the Klondike after the great discovery. The Archives section contains all of the documents that are used in the entire site. The Interpretations section is the exception on this site: it contains only secondary, or interpretive materials, written by historians who have worked with the evidence on the site to come up with their ‘expert’ interpretations. This section is password-protected, to prevent students from relying on the interpretations of ‘the experts’ rather than on their own detective work! A password can, however, be obtained from the Mysteries staff; we only ask that you assure us that you are not a student looking for a shortcut!

If you get lost, look at the bar at the top to see which button has a black background. When you click on a button at the top of the page, three things will happen: the top bar will indicate the new section, the menu to the left of the page will change and the content of the page will also change. Some of these Sections have subsections as well. Each of the contenders for the title of discoverer has a subsection in the Contenders section of the site, where documents relating to him or her can be found. This is probably the part of the site where you will spend the most time, but you will want to click on the other sections too, because they contain important information about the gold rush that may be helpful to you as you work through the evidence for or against each of the five Contenders.

The Welcome/Home Page also has a vertical menu bar down the left-hand side of the page. Each menu item provide general information about the site itself, such as how to use it, who created it, or how to learn more about the Support for Teachers available for those using this website in the classroom. You are now browsing the “How To Use This Site” section. The “Credits” button will take you to the page that provides the ‘credits’ for the site, describing the team of researchers, technical people, designers, translators and financial sponsors of the site. “Teaching Support” links you to the five kinds of support for teachers available on this site, including detailed lesson and unit plans relating to “Who Discovered Klondike Gold?” Finally, the “Feedback” button lets you know how you can give us your feedback, as a teacher, a student, or ‘just’ a surfer on the Mysteries websites.

Primary documents are the core of this website. We have provided you with the citation indicating the source of every document on the site, and where you can find the original item. This information is indicated at the bottom of every document. For photographs and drawings the citation/caption is available by “mousing” over the image. All documents also have a link to the “About this Source” option that explains the kind of document you are looking at – government document, photograph, letter- and provides you with other information about the creation, preservation and audience for each kind of document. This contextual information will help you to understand how to use it effectively as evidence, evidence that you will be using to come to your decision about “Who Discovered Klondike Gold?” As noted above, documents are organized throughout the site into different sections, but they are listed together, organized by Document Type, in the Archives section that appears along the horizontal tool bar of each page. To return to the page you were previously on, click on the “Previous” button.