Writing Themselves into History: Emily and Matilda Bancroft in Journals and Letters

Writing Themselves into History: Emily and Matilda Bancroft in Journals and Letters
Hardcover, 6 X 9, with over 30 black-and-white archival images, 400 pages.
ISBN: 9781597145886.

By Kim Bancroft

In the early years of California’s statehood, Emily Brist Ketchum Bancroft (1834–1869) and Matilda Coley Griffing Bancroft (1848–1910) had front-row seats to the unfolding of the Golden State’s history. The first and second wives of historian extraordinaire Hubert Howe Bancroft, these two women were deeply engaged members of society and perceptive chroniclers of their times, and they left behind extensive records of their lives and work. Writing Themselves into History offers a rich immersion in nineteenth-century California, detailing Emily’s and Matilda’s experiences with public life, motherhood, and business against the backdrop of San Francisco’s high society and the state’s growth amidst the tumult of the American Civil War. The book also highlights Matilda’s significant involvement in Hubert Howe’s trailblazing research on the history of the American West—including her work collecting oral histories from women members of the LDS Church—and her evocative descriptions of travels throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. 

Kim Bancroft’s commentary offers historical context and points up Emily’s and Matilda’s keen insights, and she pays special attention to the two women’s complex and nuanced portraits of gender, race, and class in the nineteenth-century West. This book is a valuable resource for American West and women’s studies scholars, and for anyone with an interest in California’s first decades as a state.

Categories Forthcoming | History

About the Author

Kim Bancroft

Kim Bancroft

Kim Bancroft is a longtime teacher turned editor and writer. She earned a B.A. in English from Stanford, an M.A. in English and a teaching credential from San Francisco State University, and a doctorate in education from UC Berkeley. She has taught at various high schools and community colleges in the Bay Area, at the Universidad de Guanajuato in Mexico, and at Sacramento State. Kim has edited several books, including Ariel: A Memoir by Ariel Parkinson; The Morning the Sun Went Down by Darryl Wilson; and Ruth’s Journey: A Survivor’s Memoir, by Ruth Glasberg Gold. She lives in Willits, California, in a redwood forest and enjoys the nouveau-Thoreau challenges and opportunities of life in a small cabin with a satellite dish on top. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Hubert Howe Bancroft. Read her blog, “Urban Woman’s Guide Back to the Land,” here: urbanwomanbacktoland.blogspot.com.

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