Juana Briones Opening Celebration

San Francisco, CA

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This is the exhibition image of a daguerreotype that is photographed in such a way that makes the image ghost like. It references the mysterious yet prominent role that Juana Briones played in California history.


Please join us for a special reception as we celebrate the opening of the next major exhibition at the California Historical Society: Juana Briones y su California ~ Pionera, Fundadora, Curandera

Sunday, January 26, 2:00 - 4:00 PM
California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco

In this bilingual exhibition on the life and times of Juana Briones (1802-1889) -- pioneer, founder, healer  we experience the transformation of California under three flags: Spain, Mexico, and the United States. We navigate alongside Juana -- without a formal education yet dynamic, strategic, and resourceful -- through the social, economic, political, and legal upheavals of nineteenth-century California. Through paintings, maps, portraits, legal documents, and artifacts, we realize a vision of Juana Briones as a woman adaptable yet undaunted in her pursuits. More broadly, through her accomplishments -- as mother, landowner, business woman, and humanitarian -- we glimpse how some women, including those of Mexican and Spanish descent, influenced our state's history on a wide-ranging yet distinctively human scale.

In her time, this remarkable Californian of Spanish and African descent managed a farm and a dairy in Yerba Buena (later San Francisco) -- one of the town's earliest residents. She purchased and operated a 4,439-acre ranch in present-day Palo Alto. She adopted Native American orphans and used her skills as a curandera (healer) in the community. She filed for an ecclesiastic separation from her abusive husband -- a rarity in her time. She successfully defended her land claims in U.S. courts, becoming one of the state's first women to own property. No photograph exists of Juana Briones. Yet, from the objects in this exhibition an image begins to form in our minds of this potent, resourceful, and creative woman who convincingly represents the spirit and promise of our state.

Agradecemos a nuestro Consejo de Administración, personal, patrocinadores, y asociados, sin quienes esta exposición no sería posible. / We are grateful to our Board of Trustees, staff, sponsors, and partners, without whom this exhibition would not be possible. Por su ayuda en la exposición, quisiéramos agradecer a / For their help with the exhibition, we would like to thank: Clark Atakiff, Scott Atthowe, Gabriela Chavez-Lopez, Charles Garcia, Theresa Salazar, Brenda Salguero, Gil Sanchez, and Elaine Tennant. La exhibición está generosamente patrocinada por / This exhibition is generously sponsored by: Stanford University, Wells Fargo, The Bancroft Library, Mechanics Bank, National Park Service, and the Juana Briones Heritage Foundation. Apoyo institucional ofrecido por / Institutional support is provided by: Barkley Fund, Bernard Osher Foundation, Cal Humanities, Hearst Foundation, Hewlett-Packard, James Irvine Foundation, Koret Foundation, San Francisco Grants for the Arts, and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. Apoyo en especie ofrecido por / In-kind support is provided by: HPA Strategic Communications, Hafner Vineyard, Lagunitas Brewing Co., Sherwin-Williams, and Vignette Wine Country Soda. Agradecemos el apoyo de nuestros socios y de aquellos que han ofrecido material en préstamo / We are grateful for the support of our partners and lenders: Archdiocese of San Francisco, Autry National Center, The Bancroft Library, Susan Brandt-Hawley, Esq., Bolinas Museum, California School of Traditional Hispanic Herbalism, Albert Camarillo, Children’s Creativity Museum, Hayward Area Historical Society, Heyday, HOPE, Huntington Library, John Muir Laws Nature Journal Club, La Cocina, LAM Network, Mission Economic Development Agency, Palo Alto Historical Association, Point Reyes National Seashore Museum, Presidio Trust, Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, Kristine Samuelson, San Francisco Heritage, Santa Clara University, Society of California Pioneers, Stanford University, UCSF School of Nursing, Unity Council, Yerba Buena Alliance.