Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
Scope and Content
Title: Collection of California Missions inventories, reports, and other material
Collection number: 0374
USC Libraries Special Collections
Language of Material:
0.42 Linear feet
Date: 1791-1846, undated
Language of Materials:
Materials are in Spanish. The collection includes one document in English and some English-language notes.
The twenty-one documents in this collection, primarily inventories, account books, and annual reports from five California
missions, show economic and social aspects of life at the missions. The documents, written in Spanish and dated from 1791-1846,
provide information about the people living and working at the missions, including numbers of baptisms, marriages, births,
and deaths; number and kinds of livestock and crops; descriptions of property and buildings; and accountings of debits and
credits. The collection also includes documents reflecting financial and social transactions at multiple or unspecified missions.
As part of their colonial designs on Alta California, the Spanish founded missions, presidios, and pueblos in order to secure
and develop this territory; these California missions thus served as the engine for the region's economic and political development.
The missions were conceived as self-sufficient entities that, in enlisting a Christianized Native American population as their
labor force, would receive minimal financial and material support from the Viceroyalty in New Spain. As the missions grew
more productive and supply lines from Mexico dwindled, their goods and labor increasingly supported each other and the needs
of the presidios and pueblos. In the years prior to Mexican independence (1821) and secularization (1834), many of the missions
were very productive in agriculture, artisanal production, and trade, as the Native Americans grew and harvested crops, tended
livestock, and manufactured goods in mission workshops. As part of their duties, the Franciscan Fathers heading the California
missions kept detailed records about the missions and their inhabitants, sending inventories, account books, and annual and
biennial reports to their affiliated presidios and to the administrators in Mexico City. After secularization, inventories
were also conducted before missions were leased or sold.
[Box/folder# or item name], Collection of California Missions inventories, reports, and other material, Collection no. 0374,
Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
Conditions Governing Access
Advance notice required for access.
This collection is arranged first by named missions, in order of quantity of documents, and then by documents that either
do not specify a particular mission or that name multiple missions; these latter are arranged in chronological order. Within
these groupings, folders are arranged in chronological order.
This collection was purchased from the Historical Society of Southern California in 1988; according to acquisitions documentation,
the Historical Society of Southern California had owned the documents since 1899. Also acquired with this collection was a
Los Angeles election manuscript, entitled Los Angeles Justice of the Peace Election Results, dated November 4, 1850; this
document has been included in the General Historical Manuscripts and Ephemera collection, #6004, Special Collections, University
of Southern California.
The collection was presumably arranged and rehoused at purchase in 1988. In 2010, Sue Tyson processed the collection, re-arranging,
describing, and refoldering its documents. Ivan E. Calimano provided translation assistance.
Scope and Content
The California Missions collection consists of twenty-one documents, primarily inventories, account books, and annual reports
(informes), dated 1791-1846. The majority of the documents were created at five of the missions: Santa Cruz (eight documents),
San Buenaventura (four documents), and one document each from San Gabriel Arcangel, Santa Clara, and Santa Ines. The remainder
of the documents describe conditions at more than one mission, or refer to financial or social transactions at unidentified
missions. All but one of the collection’s documents are in Spanish; one undated document, a descriptive introduction to and
translation of an annual report from the Santa Cruz Mission from 1791, is written in English. About half of the documents
are dated prior to the secularization of the missions in 1834, and about half are dated post-secularization.
Though limited in size, the collection shows economic and social aspects of life at the missions. Account books, inventories,
and annual and biennial reports (informes) provide information about the people living and working at the missions, including
numbers of baptisms, marriages, births, and deaths; number and kinds of livestock and crops; description of property and buildings;
and accountings of debits and credits. Some of the documents provide a great deal of detail: for example, a set of annual
and biennial reports from 1791-1833 (Folder 3) and an account book for 1792-1818 (Folder 4) each offer views of the Santa
Cruz Mission's economic activities over many years.
Along with documents about the missions named above, the collection includes other types of documents that attest to various
social and legal practices. These include a conversion statement, promissory notes, and documents concerning marriage. Many
documents refer to Native Americans as Indios; one document mentions Coras, Yuma, and Apache.
The collection contains many signatures of figures that played a role in the history of the California missions, including
Andrés Pico, Estevan Tapis, Thomas de la Pena, and Pablo Vicente de Sola; people charged with conducting inventories of the
missions, such as Juan Manso; and lessees or purchasers of the missions, including Narciso Botello and José Arnaz. Other signatures
found in the documents are mentioned in the Scope and Content notes for individual folders in the collection. In addition,
names mentioned in the documents include Juan B. Alvarado, Narciso Duran, and Concepcion Arguello.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Alvarado, Juan Bautista, 1809-1882 -- Archives
Arguello y Morago, Maria de la Concepcion Marcela, d. 1857 -- Archives
Arnaz, José -- Archives
Botello, Narciso -- Archives
Duran, Narciso, 1776-1846 -- Archives
Manso, Juan -- Archives
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel (San Gabriel, Calif.). -- Archives
Pena Saravia, Tomas de la, 1743-1806 -- Archives
Pico, Andrés -- Archives
San Buenaventura Mission. -- Archives
Santa Clara Mission. -- Archives
Santa Cruz Mission. -- Archives
Santa Ines Mission (Solvang, Calif.). -- Archives
Sola, Pablo Vicente de, b.1761 -- Archives
Tapis, Estevan, 1754-1825 -- Archives
California--History--To 1846--Archival resources
Indians of North America--Missions--California--Archival resources
Missions, Spanish--California--History--Archival resources
Missions, Spanish--Economic aspects--California--Archival resources