Grass Valley, Calif. October 9, 2018 – Historian Gage McKinney will teach a course on Cornish history and culture in the Osher Life Long Learning (OLLI) program at Sierra College on four Wednesdays, November 7 – 28, at 2:00 – 3:30 pm.

The course will survey the history of a Celtic land in the southwest corner of the United Kingdom from Neolithic times to the present. It will explain the migration which brought thousands of Cornish people to the mines of the American West. “We’ll talk about serious history,” McKinney said, “but we’ll have some fun, too. We’ll fit the television shows Poldark and Doc Martin into the conversation.”

“At one time Grass Valley was dominated and Nevada City was influenced by sizeable populations of Cornish immigrants and their descendants,” McKinney said. “People called them ‘Cousin Jacks,’ which was a slur until Cornish people adopted the expression themselves.” Understanding the Cornish, McKinney said, is key to understanding the history of this region.

McKinney was tutored by the late Dr. F. L. Harris, who supervised the University of Exeter’s extension in Cornwall and founded the Institute of Cornish Studies. The late A. C. Todd, author of seminal books about the Cornish migration to America, Mexico and South Africa, was a friend and mentor.

McKinney was the principle researcher in California for the Cornish Global Migration Program, an international research project begun almost 30 years ago. He was made a Cornish bard in 1998 for services to Cornwall.

McKinney has written several books on the Cornish including When Miners Sang, a study of the folk music and culture continued today by the Grass Valley Carol Choir and Grass Valley Male Voice Choir. He lives in Grass Valley.

To enroll in the class, or see other OLLI offerings, visit  or call 916/781-6290.

OLLI at Sierra College is designed for lifelong learners who are eager to explore traditional and new areas of knowledge.

About Sierra College

Sierra College District is rising to the needs of our community. Sierra College serves 3200 square miles of Northern CA with campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Grass Valley, and Truckee. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California (Sacramento north) for transfers to four year Universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills.  Sierra graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the region. More information at

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