About JoAnn

JoAnn Levy is the author of  They Saw the Elephant: Women in the California Gold Rush, a book praised by the San Francisco Chronicle as “one of the best and most comprehensive accounts of gold rush life to date.”  Levy’s second book, Daughter of Joy, A Novel of Gold Rush San Francisco, was inspired by the real-life Chinese courtesan Ah Toy and the Chinese participation in California’s gold rush.  It won the 1999 WILLA award for Best Historical Fiction. Her third book, For California’s Gold, A Novel, won the 2001 WILLA award for Best Historical Fiction. Levy’s fourth book, a dual biography, was released in 2004: Unsettling the West: Eliza Farnham and Georgiana Bruce Kirby in Frontier California.

Levy is a frequent public speaker.  She spoke at California’s official sesquicentennial ceremonies at Coloma on the 150th anniversary of Marshall’s gold discovery.  In honor of  the sesquicentennial of California’s statehood, she spoke at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Articles about Levy’s work have appeared in numerous Northern California newspapers, and she has been featured in several TV documentaries about the gold rush.

So, that doesn’t say much of anything you can’t read elsewhere.  If you’re really interested in more personal stuff about me, take a look at this Sacramento Bee interview, “As Good as Gold” — even Mr. Wrong gets a mention.

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2 responses

  1. Aloha,
    I am a Young Imaginations Teacher and we are in the process of presenting gold rush curriculum (4th grade) through storytelling and dance. We have 6 demographics. Woman, Children, Blacks, White European, Chinese and Native American. I am wondering if you can recommend resources for Chinese gold rush dances and music. I look forward to reading your books!

    Living in the Heart of Music and DANCE,
    MONICA CALDWELL
    5th generation Marin County CA

    • Monica, what a great way to approach the gold rush era, and what a challenge! Unfortunately, I have never in my research come across any reference to Chinese folk dancing. It’s important to remember that the Chinese immigrants, almost exclusively male, came here to dig for gold, primarily to send back to China to support their families. Dance was not part of their culture here at that time. I do wish you all the best in your endeavor.

      JoAnn Levy

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