This is a primary source photo collection on Californios, elite families that received large land grants from Spain and Mexico, flourished during the 1830s to 1880s. The hand-drawn diseño maps underscore their vital connection to land ownership. The more formal surveyed maps that followed US acquisition of California show changing values regarding land ownership. As Californios lost land and power in the late 19th century, they tried to adapt to these changes by using social networks to maintain their identities as elites. The formal portraits were one way to bolster this image. Photographs of the Ramona Pageant from the 1950s testify to the mythologizing of California's Mexican and Spanish pastoral heritage less than 100 years later.
Material Type: Reading