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Maria Ochoa collaborating with Hayward Area Historical Society
Award: $35,000 Literary Arts Grant awarded in  2001
Presented: June 2004; book publication in 2009

Through a collaboration with the Hayward Area Historical Society, María Ochoa developed a book, published by Arcadia Press, that documents stories of Russell City, a small town now incorporated into Hayward. In her manuscript, Ochoa focused on “uncovering the invisible personal histories of everyday people of color and their contributions to the rich cultural heritage of the Bay Area.”

A small Alameda County township, Russell City existed between 1853 and 1964. During its 100 years of existence, it served as the arrival point for diverse cultural groups, among them Spaniards, Danes, Germans, Swiss, Italians, African Americans and Mexican Americans. For the book, Ochoa collected oral histories told from multiple points of view. The Historical Society hosted the interviews and assisted with her research. Its archives on Russell City, which were developed and enhanced through a 2001 exhibition, informed the project.

Prior to this project, María Ochoa, a long-time Hayward resident, had worked as a writer of arts-based oral histories for more than ten years. She was co-editor of the journal, “Enunciating Our Terms: Women of Color in Collaboration and Conflict,” published by the Center for Cultural Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her Creative Collaborations: A Study of Chicana Artistic Expressiveness was published by the University of New Mexico Press.

The Hayward Area Historical Society and Museum has developed a comprehensive and diverse approach to telling the region’s history, managing a downtown museum containing exhibits, a library, and a corner store, and the restored McConaghy House. It offers educational programs for local schools, a membership program, and docent tours of historic regional sites.

Pictured: Russell City First School House, 1895