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Like so many Americans, Alvin Coffey came to California in 1849 to dig for gold. But he did not come of his own free will. Alvin was a slave, and his owner planned to use his labor to make himself rich. He promised Alvin that he could earn money and buy his freedom, but that promise was not kept.


Every enslaved person dreamed of freedom. Alvin came to California with that dream and hope for a better life for himself and his family. He endured overland journeys, days and nights of hard work and worry, and separation from his loving family to achieve his goal.


Alvin Coffey is the fourth book in the Golden State Biography series by Nancy Leek, and the first about an African American freedom seeker. This picture book biography for young readers ages 6 to 12 and grades 1-5 is highly readable and historically accurate. It features full-color illustrations on every page by award-winning artist Steve Ferchaud.

Alvin Coffey: The True Story of an African American Forty-Niner

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