Nature in California History
California History has long been a beacon to those curious about the history of the 31st state, a land of one hundred million acres with a human history dating back at least fifteen thousand years. Publishing the history of that landscape and that timeline has been an act of audacity. But for more than ninety-four years, the journal’s many editors have faced the challenge by thinking broadly and engaging with a myriad of historical themes.
The expansive editorial viewpoint of California History was evident in the very first volume in 1922, which featured work on Kit Carson, San Luis Obispo in the Spanish Era, the Gold Rush, and—as was the custom in the era of gentleman-collectors—information about auctions of Californiana. Yet, among those diverse themes, natural history clearly occupied a unique position. To this day, the theme of nature remains dominant one.
Since University of California Press began publishing California History in 2014, more than half-a-dozen articles on the state’s natural history have appeared in the pages of the journal. We have compiled those essays here in a special issue of California History devoted to the theme of nature.
Here you will find, among other topics, historical investigation of the demise of the Galapagos Turtle during and after the Gold Rush; salt harvesting in Alameda County; the rise of sweet pea cultivation at the turn-of-the-nineteenth-century; irrigation in late nineteenth-century Los Angeles; Bee-keeping in early twentieth-century Los Angeles; the intrigue surrounding the killing of the second-to-last grizzly bear in California in 1916; and the “sprawl” of Yosemite after World War II.
By producing this special “virtual issue” on California’s natural history, we hope to encourage scholars in the natural sciences to consider California History as a home for their own investigations.
—Josh Sides, Editor, California State University, Northridge