Born in Boyle Heights, a Los Angeles neighborhood, Harriet Rochlin grew up attached to its foods, languages, and multicultural social clime. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic America at the University of California, Berkeley, married, had four children, and became a freelance journalist. In the early 1960s, excited by the emerging ethnic history movement, she launched a quest for Jewish roots in the Spanish, Mexican and American West. Her pursuit has reaped 26 articles; 114 speeches; the landmark illustrated social history from Houghton Mifflin, Pioneer Jews: A New Life in the Far West (co-authored with Fred Rochlin); and two Western Jewish collections -- one historical, the other photographic -- both at UCLA Charles Young Library, Special Collections.
To probe deeper, she created a fictional trilogy: The Reformer's Apprentice: A Novel of Old San Francisco ("Rochlin is a superb interpreter of Jewish types and Jewish activities in the West...but best of all the juices of life flow in every man and woman." C.L. Sonnichsen, Journal of Arizona History); The First Lady of Dos Cacahuates ("The author serves up enough period charm, crackling storytelling and priceless details to satisfy devotees of both wild west lore and Jewish history." Publishers Weekly); and On Her Way Home ("Rochlin offers a fascinating tale of the Old West from a Jewish perspective that is not often found in books, while her expertise in early Arizona life will appeal to all western aficionados." Booklist-American Library Association).
In 2011, Harriet completed The Rochlin Guide, the first current and comprehensive guide to 38 Western Jewish historical societies, museums and archives founded in the last fifty years.
She is currently completing A Mixed Chorus: Jewish Women in the American West, 1849 to 1924, a documentary, social, pictorial history.