Special 2024 Conference Saturday Presentation

A Californio Family in Transition:
Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Francisca Benicia Carrillo de Vallejo, 1846-1888

The experiences of Mexicans who were living in California when it was annexed by the United States is a crucial element in our state's past. These Californios, as they called themselves, made California's identity diverse and multi-cultural from the moment it became part of the United States. The Vallejos were one of the most prominent of these Californio families.

This presentation considers the experiences of this family, using more than 180 letters that Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Francisca Benicia Carrillo de Vallejo exchanged with each other between 1846 and 1888, and the scores of letters that one or both of them exchanged with their children.

These letters offer an intimate glimpse of the ways in which this family, and many Californio families like them, struggled to adapt to the political, social, and cultural changes that were occurring around them, especially when they found themselves strangers in the land in which they had been born. Individually, and as a couple, Mariano Guadalupe and Francisca Benicia found themselves faced with ever-changing--and at times conflicting--demands on their public and private lives. They struggled to maintain ownership of their property, to raise their children in an environment that they did not entirely understand, and to help each other maintain their dignity and social authority in a world they had not chosen.

About the Presenters
Rose Marie Beebe is Professor Emerita of Spanish literature at Santa Clara University and Robert M. Senkewicz is Professor Emeritus of History, also here at Santa Clara. Rose Marie and Bob have collaborated on a number of books on the history of Spanish and Mexican California including, The History of Alta California; Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535–1846; Testimonios: Early California through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848; Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary; a complete translation of Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo’s Recuerdos; and Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo: Life in Spanish, Mexican, and American California.

Rose Marie and Bob have received numerous teaching and scholarship awards at Santa Clara University. In 2015 they were recognized with the University Award for Sustained Excellence in Scholarship. They have also received awards from The Bancroft Library, the Historical Society of Southern California, the California Mission Studies Association, and the California Council for the Promotion of History. Rose Marie received a year-long fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for the Vallejo project. In 2019 they were awarded the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History by the Book Club of California for their book Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary.