Filters all ’round

Dec 12, 2012
Publisher Hubert Howe Bancroft had a plan.  He wanted to have the stories of the pioneers of California, meaning those that were here before him, preserve their stories.  He would have their recollections recorded.  It was a handy bit of early Oral Histories that are a result of this effort.  
Happy to share that his insight and his desire for the stories extended beyond English speakers.  I’ve not really researched to learn why he came to this choice.  I only know that I’m glad he did because he included folks like our own Doña Eulalia Pérez Guillen de Mariné.  Rancho El Rincón de San Pascual, on which all of Pasadena now exists, was reserved for her when the mission lands were secularized.  
One of Bancroft’s interviewing agents was Thomas Savage.  Of old New England heritage, he was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in Spanish speaking countries, and his Mother Tongue was Spanish.  He worked as an editor, was U.S. consul in Guatemala and El Salvador, supervised copying and abstractions on Early California and according to scholar James B. Hart (CBE), “wrote a substantial part of the volumes in Bancroft’s Works on Mexico and Central America”.

It was Thomas Savage who interviewed Doña Eulalia on December 10, 1877.  I share this today since December 11, 1877 is the date he includes when he committed her recuerdos (memories) to paper.

Image based on photo of Doña Eulalia lent me by Victoria Duarte de Cordova

As I was getting ready for this post I began to experiment with her image and different filters.  The more I fiddled the more I wondered about the filters that existed when Mr. Savage interviewed Doña Eulalia.  In an oral history the questions you pose can set the trajectory of the interview.  The attitude and knowledge you have set the questions.

How much deeper might the interview be if one really has no idea of the response but has an understanding of the situation?  How much can we learn from the past if we hear it through the voices who lived it? What sort of filters do we need to be mindful of as they share their past? What questions were left unasked because she tired?


If you’d like to learn more about Dona Eulalia  and formulate your own questions, you can pick up –
Three Memoirs of Mexican California by Carlos N. Hijar, Eulalia Perez, Agustin Escobar translated by Vivian C. Fisher, The Friends of the Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, 1988

or go the net and enter her name, keeping in mind the author’s filters
or go to:

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