Sunday, February 22, 2009
author will explain ways she placed Juana's life in contemporary
geographic, economic, and philosophic conditions, and analyzed
Juana's skill at adapting and succeeding within drastic change,
beginning with her childhood during the monarchical dominance
Juana Briones de Miranda lived an unusual life, wonderfully told
in this highly accessible biography. She was one of the first
residents of what is now San Francisco, then named Yerba Buena
(Good Herb), reportedly after a medicinal tea she concocted. She
was among the few women in California of her time to own property
in her own name, and was a skilled farmer, rancher, and businesswoman.
In retelling Briones' life story, Jeanne Farr McDonnell recounts
the history of nineteenth-century California from this unique
Photo is courtesy of NPS
Point Reyes National Seashore Archives
Juana Briones y Tapia de Miranda lived under a government that
lost the Mexican-American war and in a region that was overwhelmed
by Americans. This occurred shortly after she took over management
of a 4,400-acre ranch, a new enterprise for her.
Juana Briones lived the second half of her life on land that later
became Los Altos Hills and Los Altos.
Jeanne Farr McDonnell has attended Stephens College, Ohio State
University, University of Brussels on a Fullbright Scholarship,
Columbia University for an M.A. in American literature, an intensive
journalism course at Stanford University over one semester, and
many continuing studies classes at Stanford. She was born in Akron,
Ohio, and lived in New York and Pennsylvania before settling in
Palo Alto, California. After various jobs in the newspaper and
publishing business, she entered the nonprofit sector, serving
on the boards of nine organizations and acting as the executive
director of three. As the founder and executive director of the
Women's Heritage Museum, now the International Museum of Women
in San Francisco, McDonnell first learned about Juana Briones,
helped over several years to manage public and school tours of
her house in Palo Alto, and worked to preserve that house.
Juana Briones of Nineteenth-Century California, by Jeanne
Farr McDonnell was published by the University of Arizona Press,
Tuscon in 2008, and available in book stoors and on Amazon.
Farr McDonnell speaks at the event.
Photo courtesy of Ralston