When the Gold Rush of California began, the first prospecters were the residents themselves. They tended to be families of Americans, Europeans, and some Natvie Americans. Every member of the family helped in some aspect. You could see women and children panning right next to the men. Some families even opened boarding houses and while the men searched for gold, the women ran the boarding houses. The first large group of people to flock to California were Oregonians. Then came the people from the Sandwich Islands and several thousand from Latin America. By the end of 1848, some 6000 people had come to find their fortunes. These ealriest seekers were sometimes known as "forty-eigthers' and were able to collect large amounts of gold easily. Ordinary prospecters could average a daily amount of 10 to 15 times the wage they would make as labourers.
Word had spread to the world and by the end of 1849 'forty-niners' came from every continent to seek their fortunes. The largest group came from East Coast of America. They came by either an overland route or by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Australians and New Zealanders heard news by way of ships carrying news and they boarded ships ready to strike it rich. As word spread, other people began to arrive from around the world. In 1849, approximately 90,000 people arrived in California to find gold. Of these about 55,000 were Americans. By 1855 at around 300,000 people came to California. The largest group was still American, but there were still people from Mexico, China, United Kingdom, Australia, and other small groups. Many of these people settled the area afterwards.
Women also worked during the Gold Rush. Prostitutes, single businesswomen, married women, poor and wealthy all were of various ethnicities. Many came with their husbands or were unwilling to be left behind to fend for themselves. Some even came for the adventure and to make their own money. Many women became widows during this time. Their husbands died from accidents, disease, fever, and other causes on their way to California. While in California, many men died to mining accidents, disease, or mining disputes. The ease of prospecting allowed women to work move from their traditional roles as housewife. Women were able to pan for gold, work in saloons, run boarding houses and many other jobs in order to make a fortune of their own. Many of the jobs done by the women were needed for the good of the people.