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History > U.S. History > Local and Regional > West

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California Women and Politics Cover

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California Women and Politics

From the Gold Rush to the Great Depression

Edited by Robert W. Cherny, Mary Ann Irwin, and Ann Marie Wilson

In 1911 as progressivism moved toward its zenith, the state of California granted women the right to vote. However, women’s political involvement in California’s public life did not begin with suffrage, nor did it end there. Across the state, women had been deeply involved in politics long before suffrage, and—although their tactics and objectives changed—they remained deeply involved thereafter. California Women and Politics examines the wide array of women’s public activism from the 1850s to 1929—including the temperance movement, moral reform, conservation, trade unionism, settlement work, philanthropy, wartime volunteerism, and more—and reveals unexpected contours to women’s politics in California. The contributors consider not only white middle-class women’s organizing but also the politics of working-class women and women of color, emphasizing that there was not one monolithic “women’s agenda,” but rather a multiplicity of women’s voices demanding recognition for a variety of causes.

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California's Frontier Naturalists

Richard G Beidleman

This book chronicles the fascinating story of the enthusiastic, stalwart, and talented naturalists who were drawn to California’s spectacular natural bounty over the decades from 1786, when the La Pérouse Expedition arrived at Monterey, to the Death Valley expedition in 1890–91, the proclaimed "end" of the American frontier. Richard G. Beidleman’s engaging and marvelously detailed narrative describes these botanists, zoologists, geologists, paleontologists, astronomers, and ethnologists as they camped under stars and faced blizzards, made discoveries and amassed collections, kept journals and lost valuables, sketched flowers and landscapes, recorded comets and native languages. He weaves together the stories of their lives, their demanding fieldwork, their contributions to science, and their exciting adventures against the backdrop of California and world history.

California's Frontier Naturalists covers all the major expeditions to California as well as individual and institutional explorations, introducing naturalists who accompanied boundary surveys, joined federal railroad parties, traveled with river topographical expeditions, accompanied troops involved with the Mexican War, and made up California’s own geological survey. Among these early naturalists are famous names—David Douglas, Thomas Nuttall, John Charles Fremont, William Brewer—as well as those who are less well-known, including Paolo Botta, Richard Hinds, and Sara Lemmon.

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Californio Voices

The Oral Memoirs of Jose Maria Amador and Lorenzo Asisara

Translated and edited by Gregorio Mora-Torres

In the early 1870s, Hubert H. Bancroft and his assistants set out to record the memoirs of early Californios, one of them being eighty-three-year-old Don José María Amador, a former “Forty-Niner” during the California Gold Rush and soldado de cuera at the Presidio of San Francisco. Amador tells of reconnoitering expeditions into the interior of California, where he encountered local indigenous populations. He speaks of political events of Mexican California and the widespread confiscation of the Californios’ goods, livestock, and properties when the United States took control. A friend from Mission Santa Cruz, Lorenzo Asisara, also describes the harsh life and mistreatment the Indians faced from the priests. Both the Amador and Asisara narratives were used as sources in Bancroft’s writing but never published themselves. Gregorio Mora-Torres has now rescued them from obscurity and presents their voices in English translation (with annotations) and in the original Spanish on facing pages. This bilingual edition will be of great interest to historians of the West, California, and Mexican American studies. “This book presents a very convincing and interesting narrative about Mexican California. Its frankness and honesty are refreshing.”–Richard Griswold del Castillo, San Diego State University

Call Me Captain Cover

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Call Me Captain

A Memoir of a Woman at Sea

Susan Scott

At 56, when hormone storms, career doubts and a failing marriage shattered Susan’s fairytale life, she took ownership of a neglected boat, and learned to repair, refit and sail it in Hawaii’s rough waters. Together with a young inexperienced sailor, Susan set sail from Honolulu to Palmyra Atoll, a National Wildlife Refuge 1,000 miles south of Hawaii. Storms and a catastrophic boat failure terrify the novice sailors, but they make it to Palmyra where Susan spends three months working as a volunteer biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While working with the marine animals that had been her life’s passion, Susan dives into fixing her disabled boat, resolving the conflicts in her marriage and coming to peace with her aging body. Merging adventure, biology, history and the complexities of human companionship to examine some of the big questions we all face in life, Scott recounts her venture into the daunting world of offshore sailing, baring her soul through struggles with life, marriage, and the remarkable Palmyra Atoll.

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Castle Valley America

Hard Land, Hard-won Home

Nancy Taniguchi

This is American history told through the stories of an atypical, for Utah, region. Castle Valley is roughly conterminous with two counties, Carbon and Emery, which together formed a rural, industrial enclave in a mostly desert environment behind the mountain range that borders Utah's principal corridor of settlement. In Castle Valley, coal mining and the railroad attracted diverse, multiethnic communities and a fair share of historic characters, from Butch Cassidy, who stole its largest payroll, to Mother Jones, who helped organize its workers against its mining companies. Among the last major segments of the state to be settled, it was also a generally poor region that stretched the capabilities of people to scratch a living from a harsh landscape.

The people of Castle Valley experienced complex, unusual combinations of both social cohesion and conflict, but they struggled through poverty, labor disputes, major mining disasters, and other challenges to build communities whose stories reflected the historical course of the nation as a whole. In order to convey her subject's both unique and representative qualities, Nancy Taniguchi has written an epic history that is not just local history, but American history written locally.

Nancy J. Taniguchi, who lived for thirteen years in Castle Valley and was previously on the faculty of the College of Eastern Utah in Price, is professor of history at California State University, Stanislaus. She is the author of numerous published articles in mining, legal, women's, western, and Utah history and of one book, Necessary Fraud: Progressive Reform
and Utah Coal
.

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Cave Rock

Climbers, Courts, and a Washoe Indian Sacred Place

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The Changs Next Door to the Díazes

Remapping Race in Suburban California

Wendy Cheng

U.S. suburbs are typically imagined to be predominantly white communities, but this is increasingly untrue in many parts of the country. Examining a multiracial suburb that is decidedly nonwhite, Wendy Cheng unpacks questions of how identity—especially racial identity—is shaped by place. She offers an in-depth portrait, enriched by nearly seventy interviews, of the San Gabriel Valley, not far from downtown Los Angeles, where approximately 60 percent of residents are Asian American and more than 30 percent are Latino. At first glance, the cities of the San Gabriel Valley look like stereotypical suburbs, but almost no one who lives there is white.

The Changs Next Door to the Díazes reveals how a distinct culture is being fashioned in, and simultaneously reshaping, an environment of strip malls, multifamily housing, and faux Mediterranean tract homes. Informed by her interviews as well as extensive analysis of three episodic case studies, Cheng argues that people’s daily experiences—in neighborhoods, schools, civic organizations, and public space—deeply influence their racial consciousness. In the San Gabriel Valley, racial ideologies are being reformulated by these encounters. Cheng views everyday landscapes as crucial terrains through which racial hierarchies are learned, instantiated, and transformed. She terms the process “regional racial formation,” through which locally accepted racial orders and hierarchies complicate and often challenge prevailing notions of race.

There is a place-specific state of mind here, Cheng finds. Understanding the processes of racial formation in the San Gabriel Valley in the contemporary moment is important in itself but also has larger value as a model for considering the spatial dimensions of racial formation and the significant demographic shifts taking place across the national landscape.

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Children of Chinatown

Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco, 1850-1920

Wendy Rouse Jorae

Wendy Jorae challenges long-held notions of early Chinatown as a bachelor community by showing that families--and particularly children--played important roles in its daily life. She explores the wide-ranging images of Chinatown's youth created by competing interests with their own agendas--from anti-immigrant depictions of Chinese children as filthy and culturally inferior to exotic and Orientalized images that catered to the tourist's ideal of Chinatown. All of these representations, Jorae notes, tended to further isolate Chinatown at a time when American-born Chinese children were attempting to define themselves as Chinese American. Facing barriers of immigration exclusion, cultural dislocation, child labor, segregated schooling, crime, and violence, Chinese American children attempted to build a world for themselves on the margins of two cultures. Their story is part of the larger American story of the struggle to overcome racism and realize the ideal of equality.

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Church and State in the City

Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco

William Issel

Church and State in the City provides the first comprehensive analysis of the city’s long debate about the public interest. Historian William Issel explores the complex ways that the San Francisco Catholic Church—and its lay men and women—developed relationships with the local businesses, unions, other community groups, and city government to shape debates about how to define and implement the common good. Issel’s deeply researched narrative also sheds new light on the city’s socialists, including Communist Party activists—the most important transnational challengers of both capitalism and Catholicism during the twentieth century.

Moreover, Church and State in the City is revisionist in challenging the notion that the history of urban politics and policy can best be understood as the unfolding of a progressive, secular modernization of urban political culture. Issel shows how tussles over the public interest in San Francisco were both distinctive to the city and shaped by its American character.

In the series Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy, edited by Zane L. Miller, David Stradling, and Larry Bennett

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