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Stanford cosponsors exhibit on Juana Briones, 19th-century Latina entrepreneur

Juana Briones, one of California's first Latina pioneers and humanitarians, is the subject of a six-month exhibition at the California Historical Society, presented in partnership with Stanford University. Briones was a pivotal figure at a time when California was undergoing dramatic change.

L.A. Cicero Al Camarillo

Stanford historian Al Camarillo is guest curator of an exhibition on Juana Briones, a Hispanic female pioneer of California.

Juana Briones, one of California's first Latina cultural and business leaders, is the focus of a new exhibition that opens Jan. 26 at the California Historical Society.

"Juana Briones y Su California: Pionera, Fundadora, Curandera" is presented in partnership with Stanford University and the Bancroft Library at the University of California-Berkeley. The bilingual exhibition (English and Spanish) is the first of its kind at the California Historical Society. It will run through June 8 at 678 Mission St. in San Francisco.

Briones (1802-1889) was one of early California's most important Hispanic female pioneers. An early settler of Yerba Buena, the area of San Francisco now known as North Beach, she was a multiethnic woman, mother, landowner, business person, healer and humanitarian. She lived at a pivotal time when California evolved under three flags: Spain, Mexico and the United States. Briones' story will be told through paintings, maps, documents, a bilingual web site and artifacts.

Stanford history Professor Albert Camarillo is serving as a guest curator for the exhibition.

"The story of Juana Briones is important to us all as Californians for many reasons," Camarillo said. "She was a humanitarian and folk healer, a woman who cared for sick and needy people regardless of their ethnic, racial or class background or whether they spoke Spanish, English or some other language. She was also a person of great integrity who persevered through tumultuous times in the 19th century and fought against greats odds to protect her rights as a property owner, as a mother and wife, and as a businesswoman."                                        

Camarillo said the exhibition offers new perspectives on California's history as well as an "appreciation for a little known historical figure whose stories reflect some of the best qualities we as people possess."

Briones bought several residential lots in the town of Mayfield (now part of Palo Alto, not far from Stanford) in 1883 and later moved there permanently.

The exhibition will include historical objects from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Autry National Center, Bancroft Library, Bolinas Museum, Huntington Library, Mission Dolores, Palo Alto Historical Association, Point Reyes National Seashore Museum, Society of California Pioneers, Santa Clara University Archives, Stanford University Special Collections and the Presidio Trust.

 "Juana Briones' power, perseverance and compassion resonate deeply with us today," said Anthea Hartig, the executive director of the California Historical Society.

Media Contact

Albert Camarillo, History Department: (650) 723-1966, camar@stanford.edu

Anthea Hartig, California Historical Society: (415) 357-1848, ahartig@calhist.org

Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, cbparker@stanford.edu