Julia C. Frankenbach

Ph.D. Candidate

North America

Julia (she/her) is a historian of early North America. She specializes in the history of the Spanish-occupied North American West and gravitates to historical topics dealing with labor, colonialism, gender, and the environment. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in environmental studies from Mount Holyoke College before studying history at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she completed her M.A. in 2017. At Berkeley, she is laying plans for a dissertation on the environmental history of the Spanish-occupied San Francisco Bay Area. Her current research looks at the variety of ways Native peoples engaged the Spanish colonial livestock economy in order to set the terms of their relationships with colonizers. She is a Berkeley Fellow and a two-time Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellow.

Julia is involved in several initiatives to support K-12 educators interested in incorporating recent scholarship in their California history curricula. In summer 2022 she collaborated with the UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project to host a K-12 teachers' institute on histories of slavery in California. She also spearheaded H-Net's Teach California project, an initiative to make university-developed teaching resources accessible to educators in K-12 and community college spaces.

Research Interests

North American West

Indigenous history

Colonial Mexico

Environmental history

Gender & the environment

California Indian studies

Fellowships & Awards

2023 Best Graduate Seminar Paper Prize, UC Berkeley Department of History, for "Roads to Reclamation: Fugitive Networks & Indigenous Nation-Building in the Heart of California"

2022 Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies

2021 Tinker Field Research Grant, UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies

2021 Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, UC Berkeley Center for Latin American Studies

2020 Berkeley Fellowship for Graduate Study


M.A., History, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2017

B.A., summa cum laude in Environmental Studies, Mount Holyoke College, 2013