Steven W. Hackel
Professor of History
Ph.D., History, Cornell University, 1994
Exchange Scholar, UC Berkeley, 1991-92
M.A., History, Cornell University, 1990
B.A. with Distinction, International Relations, Stanford University, 1984

Areas of specialization: Junípero Serra; Early America; Colonial California; Native America; California Indians; Spanish Borderlands; American West; Historical Demography


Born and raised in California, Hackel earned his B.A. at Stanford University and his Ph.D. in American History from Cornell University with specializations in early America and the American West. From 1994 to 1996 he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia.  He taught at Oregon State University from 1996 to 2007.


Within the larger field of early American history, Hackel's research specializes on the Spanish Borderlands, colonial California, and California Indians. He is especially interested in Indian responses to colonialism, the effects of disease on colonial encounters, and new ways of visualizing these processes through digital history. He has published a biography on Fray Junipero Serra, the principal founder of California's mission system, and a monograph on Indian life in the California missions, as well as numerous essays.  He is the general editor of the Early California Population Project and the Project Director for the Early California Cultural Atlas.  He co-curated the Huntington Library’s international exhibition, “Junípero Serra and the Legacy of the California Missions.”


Junípero Serra: California’s Founding Father (Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013).  Named a top ten book for 2013 by Zocalo Public Square and a finalist for best book of the year by the Southern California Independent Booksellers’ Association.

Alta California: People in Motion, Identities in Formation  (Huntington Library Press and UC Press, 2010).  Edited volume.

Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769-1850 (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2005).

He has published numerous essays in books and edited volumes as well as essays in the William and Mary Quarterly,  Ethnohistory, California History, Reviews in American History, and the Southern California Quarterly.


  • Huntington Library, NEH Long-Term Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Digital Humanities Initiative Fellowship Level 1 and 2 Start-Up Grants, NEH, Early California Cultural Atlas, 2008-2010, 2011-2013.
  • Haynes Foundation Faculty Fellowship, 1-term course release, 2009
  • W. Turrentine Jackson Award for the best first book on the American West published in the last two years, Western History Association, 2007
  • Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize for the best book-length work in the field of ethnohistory, American Society of Ethnohistory, 2006
  • James Broussard Prize for the best first book, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, 2006
  • Hubert Herring Book Award, Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies, 2006
  • Norman Neuerburg Award for the best book on California before the Gold Rush, Historical Society of Southern California, 2006
  • Huntington Library Research Fellowships, Summers 2006, 2002, 2001, 1999
  • Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, Winter 2004
  • Bolton-Kinnaird Award for the best book chapter or article on Spanish Borderlands History, Western History Association, 1998
  • Pew Program in Religion and American History Faculty Fellowship, 1998-99
  • Institute of Early American History and Culture Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1994-96
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Dissertation Fellowship, 1994


  • American Historical Association
  • Society of Ethnohistory
  • Social Science History Association
  • California Mission Studies Association
  • Pacific Coast Branch—American Historical Association
  • California Mission Studies Association (Board Member)
  • Historical Society of Southern California (Board Member)
  • CommonPlace (Editorial Board)
  • History Compass (Editorial Board)


  • U.S. Survey
  • Native America
  • Spanish Borderlands
  • California Missions
  • California History
  • American Frontier History
  • Junípero Serra