More than half a million people left Cornwall in the 19th century and headed to destinations overseas and within Britain. Many of these migrants were young, single, male industrial workers – particularly miners – who left in search of their fortunes. These miners were initially sought for their hard rock mining expertise but, as the mines in Cornwall declined, they looked for other work overseas. They headed first to Latin America, and later spread further across the world. Today there are thought to be over 6 million people of Cornish descent worldwide. This exhibition showcases documents from our archives related to Cornish migration to North America, South Africa and Australia.
Other resources that might be useful include our recorded talk, Letters from America, about the Scoble family letters. Our short film about Cornwall’s connection to the Gold Rush might also be of interest. Please note, this film was part of a Facebook Live series, so we apologise for the quality. You might also find our Cornwall and the American West online exhibition (which is linked to the GCSE curriculum) useful and interesting.
Please note, some of the documents contain racist and offensive language. This does not reflect the views of the Archives and Cornish Studies Service. We apologise for any offence that our inclusion of these words may cause.