The Nobili Papers contain virtually all the documents of the early days of Santa Clara
College. Included are financial records, legal papers (particularly dealing with securing
the former Mission land from various claimants), and correspondence with Church and State
officials, parents, and merchants. Of special interest are documents related to the
Orchard Trial, in which Nobili and Bishop Alemany seek to establish claim to land
formerly held by Mission Santa Clara. In addition to Santa Clara College documents, there
are papers related to St. Joseph's Church (San Jose), Mission Dolores (San Francisco)
property, and Mission San Jose.
Giovanni [John] Nobili was born in Rome on April 8, 1812. After entering the Jesuits in
1828 at the age of 16, he began his preliminary studies at the Roman College where he was
reported to be an excellent student. As a scholastic, he taught at the colleges of
Loretto and Fermo and published several works in physics and mathematics. He began his
theological studies in 1840 and was ordained in 1843. A year later he accompanied Father
Peter De Smet to the Indian missions of Oregon. After a year of strenuous ministry near
Port Vancouver, Nobili, at age thirty-three, was assigned to a new mission in New
Caledonia in Western Canada, what is today British Columbia. There he stayed for three
difficult years, ministering to the traders and trappers of the Hudson's Bay Company and
to the Indian tribes inhabiting the wilderness surrounding the mission.
Permission to copy or publish any portion of the Archives' materials must be given by the
Santa Clara University permits public access to its archives within the context of
respect for individual privacy, administrative confidentiality, and the integrity of the
records. It reserves the right to close all or any portion of its records to researchers.