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May 25 , 2009


Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848


When in the early 1870s historian Hubert Howe Bancroft sent interviewers out to gather oral histories from the pre-statehood gentry of California, he didn’t count on one thing: the women. When the men weren’t available, the interviewers collected the stories of the women of the household—sometimes almost as an afterthought. These interviews were eventually archived at the University of California, though many were all but forgotten. Testimonios presents thirteen women’s firsthand accounts from the days when California was part of Spain and Mexico. Having lived through the gold rush and seen their country change so drastically, these women understood the need to tell the full story of the people and the places that were their California.

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