Dedra McDonald Birzer

Academic Historian

Dedra McDonald Birzer is a lecturer in history at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan.  She completed her doctorate in history at the University of New Mexico in 2000.  She is the author of an entry on Esteban in the African American National Biography series and is also the author of “Intimacy and Empire:  Indian-African Interaction in Spanish Colonial New Mexico, 1500-1800,” in James F. Brooks, ed., Confounding the Color Line:  The Indian-Black Experience in North America (2002);  “To Be Black and Female in the Spanish Southwest:  Toward a History of African Women on New Spain’s Far Northern Frontier,” in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore, African American Women Confront the West, 1500-2000 (2003); an entry on New Mexico for the Dictionary of American History; and “Incest, Negotiation, and Power in the Spanish Colonial Borderlands: A Tale of Two Families,” in Colonial Latin American Historical Review 6:4 (Fall 1997).  Her current project is a study of female “men of letters” in twentieth century America, titled “Something No Other Woman Has Been Yet”: American’s First Generation of Public Intellectual Women (Wilmington, Del.: ISI Books, forthcoming, 2007).

Isabel de Olvera (?-?)

A free woman of African descent living in Querétaro, Mexico, Isabel de Olvera joined a relief expedition to the recently colonized province of New Mexico in 1600.  She would travel as a servant to a Spanish woman.  Little is known about Olvera, except for an … Read MoreIsabel de Olvera (?-?)

Esteban (? – 1539)

Esteban, an enslaved North African, made the first contact with the native peoples of what is now the American Southwest.  Fraught with misunderstandings, that encounter led to Esteban’s untimely demise in 1539 and prefigured the violence that would characterize the Spanish conquest and subsequent colonization … Read MoreEsteban (? – 1539)