SCOPE AND CONTENT
Title: Peveril Meigs. Baja California Research Materials,
Date (inclusive): 1925-1979
Collection number: MSS 0530
Meigs, Peveril, 1903-1979
12.40 linear feet
(5 archives boxes and 8 oversized
Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD
Abstract: Research materials related to the Baja California studies of geographer Peveril Meigs,
III. Meigs conducted field research in northern Baja California, Mexico, between 1925 and
1936 observing geology, climate, indigenous populations, mission sites, and local culture
in preparation for his 1932 doctoral dissertation entitled "The Dominican Missions of
Lower California" and his ethnographic monograph entitled THE KILIWA INDIANS OF LOWER
CALIFORNIA (1939). The collection contains journals with daily observations of people,
the natural environment and historical sites; photograph albums with black-and-white
images described in his journals; and hand drawn maps, particularly of the area around
Arroyo Leon. Also included are notes and typescripts on his fieldwork and published
sources on Baja California and Dominican mission history; published maps; annotated
publications; and correspondence with his dissertation advisor, Dr. Carl Sauer, and other
notable scholars including ethnographer A.L. Kroeber, geographer Homer Aschmann, and
historian Peter Gerhard. Of interest is Meigs's translation, from Spanish into English,
of Dominican padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres
Cartas." Also included are notes and data compiled in the 1950s on Baja California's
climate history and several papers by Meigs on peninsular Indian culture written in the
1970s. The collection does not contain material related to Meigs's research on other arid
deserts or tide mills. The research materials are arranged in eight series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY
MEIGS, 3) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 4) JOURNALS, 5) PHOTOGRAPHS, 6) MAPS, 7) MISCELLANEOUS
MATERIALS, and 8) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
Physical location: For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Fragile journals in box 2, folder 11-15 and box 3, folder 1-10 are restricted. Patrons
must use preservation photocopies.
Peveril Meigs. Baja California Research Materials, MSS 0530. Mandeville Special
Collections Library, UCSD.
Peveril Meigs, III was born in Flushing, New York, on May 5, 1903. His family moved to
Santa Barbara, California, and Meigs later attended the University of California,
Berkeley, where he received an A.B. (1925) and a Ph.D (1932) in geography. As an
undergraduate studying with Dr. Carl Sauer, Meigs became interested in Baja California
and planned his first trip to the peninsula in the summer of 1925, accompanied by fellow
graduate student C. Warren Thornthwaite.
On his first trip, Meigs and Thornthwaite travelled as far south as San Fernando de
Velicata and visited David Goldbaum in Ensenada, the Johnson Ranch in San Antonio del
Mar, the Hamilton Ranch, the flour mill and saltworks at San Quintin, the Meling Ranch,
and the mining center of Real Del Castillo. They also made a long stay in the town of El
Rosario, a brief tour of Mexicali and visited the Dominican mission sites of San
Fernando, El Rosario, Santo Domingo, and San Pedro Martir.
Meigs returned to Berkeley as a graduate student in the fall of 1925, presented his
photographs to a seminar in geography and stimulated interest in the peninsula among
graduate students and faculty, including Dr. Oscar Schmieder, who went on to study the
Russian colony in the Guadalupe Valley. In the summer of 1926, Dr. Sauer, Meigs, and
graduate students Sam Dicken and Fred Kniffen embarked upon a second trip that retraced
many of the destinations of the first and concentrated on Dominican mission sites. Sauer
and Meigs returned and published "Site and Culture at San Fernando de Velicata," the
first installment in a Baja California series published by the University of California
Press. Sauer served as Meigs's advisor as he continued his graduate studies and began
work on his dissertation.
Meigs returned to Baja California each summer for the next three years, focusing on the
history and geography of the Dominican missions and the native populations surrounding
them. In 1927, Meigs was accompanied by Horace Byers, a Berkeley undergraduate interested
in making meteorological observations. In 1928, Meigs, under the direction of Dr. A.L.
Kroeber and accompanied by his wife Yvonne, spent several weeks living with and studying
the Kiliwa Indians in Valle Trinidad. He was joined by his brother Stewart on a similar
trip in 1929.
Meigs returned to the peninsula to complete his studies of the Kiliwa Indians in 1936.
The results of these studies were published in 1939 as "The Kiliwa Indians of Lower
Following several teaching apppointments in California and Louisiana, Meigs served as a
geographer with the Office of Strategic Services (1942-1945) and the Arctic Institute of
North America (1948-1949). While he spent most of his professional career studying the
physical geography of arid and arctic zones, Meigs returned to his Baja California
studies in the 1970s, publishing several articles in PACIFIC COAST ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
QUARTERLY that reexamined his earlier field work.
Peveril Meigs died September 16, 1979, in Wayland, Massachusetts.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
The research materials related to the Baja California studies of geographer Peveril
Meigs, III (1903-1979), contain correspondence with colleagues and Baja California
specialists; manuscripts fragments and notes on field observations and bibliographic
sources; typescripts of articles; trip journals with observations on Baja California
culture, archaeology and natural history; manuscript and printed maps, photograph albums
documenting field trips, lantern slides, and annotated publications. The collection is
arranged in eight series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY MEIGS, 3) WRITINGS BY OTHERS,
4) JOURNALS, 5) PHOTOGRAPHS, 6) MAPS, 7) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 8) ORIGINALS OF
SERIES 1: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series includes letters from other Baja California historians,
geographers, and anthropologists, as well as editors, booksellers, and family members.
Notable correspondents include Carl Sauer, A.L. Kroeber, Homer Aschmann, and Peter
Gerhard. The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
SERIES 2: WRITINGS BY MEIGS
The WRITINGS BY MEIGS series, arranged alphabetically, contains drafts summarizing field
notes, typescripts, notes on bibliographic sources, and reprints of Meigs's work related
to Baja California, including research notes for his published works on the Kiliwa
Indians and several reprints of articles published in PACIFIC COAST ARCHAEOLOGICAL
SOCIETY QUARTERLY. Of interest is Meigs's translation of Padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias
de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas," an important account on Dominican
activity in Baja California.
SERIES 3: WRITINGS BY OTHERS
The WRITINGS BY OTHERS series contains Baja California-related publications by other
authors that have been heavily annotated by Meigs. This series is arranged in
SERIES 4: JOURNALS
The JOURNALS include Meigs's field notes from his 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 Baja
California trips. Notably absent from the series are his notes from 1936. While the
journals mostly contain daily accounts of his field work, including land measurements,
sketch maps, photograph captions, and interviews with subjects, the 1925 journal begins
six months before he enters the field, offering a glimpse of Meigs's life as an
undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The final entry in the series is a copy of Dr. Oscar
Schmieder's study of the Russian colony at Guadalupe Valley, heavily annotated by Meigs
while he studied the Kiliwa Indians in 1929. The journals were numbered by Meigs and are
SERIES 5: PHOTOGRAPHS
The PHOTOGRAPHS series includes two subseries: A) Photograph Albums and B) Lantern
A) In the first subseries, over 300 photographs taken by Meigs are arranged into
photograph albums. The 1925 album was created by Meigs and includes his original
materials and captions. Negatives do not exist for this album. The subsequent albums were
created during processing, following Meigs's example and using his numbering system to
match photographs, negatives and captions. The albums contain a mixture of prints
produced by Meigs and contemporary contact prints made from Meigs's negatives. An
envelope of duplicate prints has been included on the last page of each album. Captions
have been extracted from Meigs's journals and supplemented with additional notations
found on his negative envelopes. Several holes remain in the photograph series where
negative envelopes were empty or missing. In most cases, the numbers and captions of
absent photographs have been noted and designated as "Missing" within each album. Some
photographs remain unidentified and have been housed in folders separate from the albums.
Approximate dates have been attributed to each set of unidentifed photographs. The
photograph albums and corresponding "Unidentified" folders are arranged in chronological
B) The second subseries contains 63 lantern slides used in a presentation by Meigs. The
slides include photographs from several of Meigs's Baja trips, as well as hand-drawn
SERIES 6: MAPS
The MAPS series includes maps created by Meigs, either as copies of existing maps or as
field sketches, as well as a "Baja California Sketch Map" containing C.W. Thornthwaite's
signature on each leaf. The maps created by Meigs have been identified using the title he
attributed to them. Untitled maps have been identified by geographic region or landmarks.
The Thornthwaite map appears to be an enlarged and segmented copy of Carl H. Beal's
"Reconnaissance geologic map and structure sections of Baja California, Mexico." The
twelve leaves of the map are accompanied by reduced-sized photocopies exhibiting numerous
annotations by Meigs. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.
SERIES 7: MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS
The MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS series contains newspaper clippings, pressed plants, and a
postcard from Ensenada. The material is arranged in alphabetical order.
SERIES 8: ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES
Books, journals, and maps received in accessions of the Peveril Meigs Papers have been
separated from the collection and added elsewhere to the library's holdings. To identify
and list these items, conduct an author search in ROGER on the term "Meigs, Peveril 1903
1979 Former Owner."