The early history of California is made up of many remarkable women. Fortunately, some of them left behind stories that give us important glimpses into life in frontier times.
Articles about teaching young people about early California.
Mission San Francisco Solano: 10 Interesting Facts
2023 marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of Mission San Francisco Solano. Nestled in the Valley of the Moon, in the heart of California’s wine country, the mission is an unmistakable landmark. The simple 2,400-square-foot church stands along Sonoma’s main square, across the street from the barracks that General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo built to house the […]
Leidesdorff’s Legacy: Land and Struggle
During his short life, William Alexander Leidesdorff accumulated great wealth. Yet, what happened to his wealth after he died is a story in itself. The Aftermath of Leidesdorff’s Death In addition to his riches, Leidesdorff left many debts. Many of those were a result of his financing of businesses and other ventures like Fremont’s expeditions. […]
San Francisco’s Overlooked Pioneer: William Alexander Leidesdorff
Although little known today, the name of William Alexander Leidesdorff is enshrined on streets in San Francisco and a town along the American River. He was also one of California’s pioneers of African descent and instrumental in bringing about the American annexation of California.
The Luiseño of Southern California
The Luiseño people are an indigenous group of coastal Southern California with a unique language and culture. The introduction of the mission introduced major changes into Luiseño life, including a new religion (Christianity) and the adoption of the farming and ranching lifestyle. Since its founding, the mission was supervised by Fr. Antonio Peyrí. Fr. Peyrí […]
Routes to Mexican California
In the early decades of the nineteenth century, growing numbers of people came to Alta California. The routes they took and the lives they established changed the history of the region. Immigration by Sea After independence from Spain, the Mexican government relaxed trade and immigration rules. In the 1820s and 1830s, small numbers of English-speaking […]
Juan Bautista de Anza: Son of the Frontier
Juan Bautista de Anza was a military officer, governor, explorer and diplomat. His life had an enormous impact on the history of California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico, as well as Northern Mexico.
The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island: Interview with Elisabeth Rareshide
The story of the Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island was made famous by Scott O’Dell’s novel The Island of the Blue Dolphins. In this episode of the podcast, we learn more about her real life with archeologist Elisabeth Rareshide, along with a new exhibit at the Mission Santa Barbara museum. Elisabeth Rareshide Elisabeth Rareshide […]
9 Ways the Missions Impacted California
How did the Missions Affect California? Much of the culture of California has its roots in the history of the Spanish missions. And although the missions were only fully active for about 60 years, their presence had a major impact on many areas of life in California. In this article we’ll talk about some of […]
Life at a California Mission: A Native American Perspective
In the 1830’s, a young man named Pablo Tac wrote about his experiences growing up at Mission San Luis Rey. It is one of the only firsthand accounts written by a Native American who lived at a mission.
Origins of Mexican Independence: Part 2 of a Series
With a French family on the Spanish throne, two events had an irreversible effect on Spain’s relationship with her colonies.
Native American Life at the California Missions: An Overview
How did native people live at the Spanish missions in Alta California? What were their jobs? What did they eat? An in-depth look at Native American life in the California missions.
Five Tips for Teaching Kids about the California Missions
Fourth grade is the first and last time most people learn anything about the mission period in California. In case you don’t know, the state social studies curriculum mandates that all fourth graders be able to “describe the social, political, cultural, and economic life and interactions among people of California from the pre-Columbian societies to the […]
California 4th Grade History Standards
For many people growing up in California, their first exposure to the mission era takes place during their 4th grade year in elementary school (not me, I was living in the Pacific Northwest during 4th grade!). As part of the state-mandated curriculum, all students in 4th grade are required to learn about people and their surroundings […]
California Mission List: Photos, Locations, Founders
Between 1769 and 1823 Spanish missionaries founded 21 missions up and down the coast of Alta California (today’s state of California). These missions were meant to continue the chain of missions extending north from the southern tip of Baja California.