Latin American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



In the 1870s, a series of interviews were taken of Hispanic native Californians, or Californios as they call themselves, by the assistants of Anglo American historian Hubert Howe Bancroft. Many of these interviews, or testimonials as they are commonly referred to, have never been published in their entirety and have received little scholarly attention. This thesis focuses on Hispanic women in particular, the Californias, and the insight they provide into the day to day life of early Spanish, Mexican and American California.

After the Mexican-American War of 1846 many Californio families lost their properties to American settlers. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century they became increasingly marginalized economically, socially and politically. Many historical documents narrating the history of these native Californians--including letters, interviews, diaries and newspapers--have remained unpublished in personal and special collections. The Californios interviewed by Bancroft's assistants narrate their experiences in California under Spanish, Mexican and American rule. These interviews voice the perspectives of a cultural and ethnic group whose experiences have largely been left out of our historical texts. The personal and communal histories narrated by the Californios fill a large gap in American history. The perspective the Californias provide as women is particularly interesting because they discuss not only well-known historical events and figures of their era, but also the details of their daily lives. They provide an abundance of information about the practices of everyday life--enabling us to reconstruct a cultural history of early California--as well as inserting themselves and other women as active agents in the social and political landscape. In this thesis I examine the interviews as historical texts and contextualize their production in order to analyze how this process can inform our understanding of race, class and gender relations in nineteenth century California.



Document Type


Degree Name

Latin American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

Latin American Studies

Second Department

Latin American Studies

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tey Diana Rebolledo

Second Committee Member

Gabriel Meléndez

Third Committee Member

Garland Dee Bills