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This remarkable 97-year-old woman tells the story of her youth on a California ranch in the early twentieth century. She seems to remember every detail of farm life in that era before mechanization, from the labors of men, women and children to the organization of the farm, even the tools and equipment they used. She writes lyrically of the beauties of the land and of fun with her ll brothers and sisters. But she also recalls the prejudice that Portuguese-Americans met in the community. And she tells how she tried to evade her father’s old-country prohibitions about “immodest” dress, dancing, and high school for girls.
What They Say About Footprints in the Soil
“Footprints in the Soil is a candid first hand account written by a Portuguese-American living in California at the beginning of the twentieth century . . . Ms. Emery describes every aspect of life on a ranch, including the division of labor and the hierarchical structure of the family and its surrounding society. Her nostalgic narrative is charming and captivating, but most importantly it is detailed and factual. For these and many other reasons, Ms. Emery’s text is truly unique, . . . it is the testimony of a voice almost completely silenced in written history—that of a first generation Portuguese-American female. “Footprints in the Soil is, undoubtedly, one of the most important contributions to the documentation of the history of the Portuguese community in California.”
—Deolinda Adão, Program CoordinatorPortuguese Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley
“This book is a corker. It evokes the texture and feeling of life on a farm in the Northern California of the first quarter of the twentieth century. The author transports you into the daily activities, the very fabric of life that she and her family experienced. The writing is fresh and original, a real page turner. I was sorry when I finished it; I wanted more.”
—Arlene Kaplan Daniels, Professor Emerita, Sociology and Women’s Studies, Northwestern University
“Footprints in the Soil is a poignant memoir of pioneer ranch life in the San Ramon Valley. In her vivid prose Rose Peters Emery evokes a reality much different from our own of today. Particularly impressive is her recreation in minute detail of the physical and emotional world in which she found herself in the first years of the past century.”
—Donald Warrin, Professor Emeritus,