Santa Clara University

Santa Clara Magazine Online

<em>Testimonios</em> podcast

When renowned historian Hubert Howe Bancroft sought to write an exhaustive history of California, he enlisted the assistance of three men to to travel around the state collecting documents and conducting interviews for research.

Their combined efforts would result in the publication of the seven-volume History of California between 1884 and 1890. The members of Bancroft’s staff—Henry Cerruti, Thomas Savage, and Vincente Perfecto Gómez—interviewed 78 people, 13 of whom were the women whose words make up Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815-1848 by Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz.

Interviewing these women was not a top priority for Bancroft’s staff, however. Their main goal was to get or copy important documents or to speak to men. Why just men? They were the ones, write Beebe and Senkewicz, who were, “in 19th-century America…usually regarded as the true makers of history.” For Bancroft’s project, some of the women were only interviewed because others referred the researchers to them, or simply because the men of the house weren’t available. Bancroft would eventually sell his library of works, including the women’s interviews, to the University of California, Berkeley in 1905. Many of those 13 interviews were forgotten over time, until Beebe and Senkewicz shared them through Testimonios—even translating some parts of the interviews into English for the first time.

Here in this podcast, Beebe and Senkewicz share the personal tales of some of the women whose stories make up Testimonios—and capture some unique perspectives on the epic tale of California.

—Jessica Chung

View images of Testimonios.


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