Event: Bancroft Round Table: Hawaiian Pioneers in Mexican California

It will take place, as usual, in the Lewis Latimer Room of The Faculty Club at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 20. Gregory Rosenthal, doctoral candidate in history at the State University of New York, Stony Brook and recipient of the Bancroft Library’s Arthur J. Quinn Memorial Fellowship, will present Hawaiian Pioneers in Mexican California.
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In his monumental History of California (1884-1890), Hubert Howe Bancroft included a “Pioneer Register” of the (mostly) Euro-American men who came to California in the years prior to the Gold Rush. In doing so, Rosenthal contends, Bancroft ignored the significant non-native, non-white populations that similarly “pioneered” the Mexican-to-American transition. For example, scores of Hawaiian men (and some women) arrived in Alta California in the first half of the nineteenth century to hunt sea otters, skin cattle hides, ferry cargo among ships, and otherwise occupy important niches in California’s trans-Pacific economy. At the Huntington Library, the California Historical Society, and at the Bancroft Library, Rosenthal has has mined the archives for traces of these lost “pioneers,” and what he has found is quite extraordinary. Some Hawaiian settlers owned land, others converted to Catholicism, while others intermarried with indigenous Californians. While most labored as wage workers for Euro-American employers, others toiled for and alongside Mexicans, African-Americans, and Indians. In this presentation, Rosenthal will tell some of their stories as well as put the history of these Hawaiian “pioneers” within the larger context of Hawaiian labor emigration in the nineteenth-century Pacific World. Hope to see you there.

 Lara Michels and Baiba Strads
Bancroft Library Staff