Bruce Berger Papers

Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
Copyright 2018
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla 92093-0175

Descriptive Summary

Languages: English
Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla 92093-0175
Title: Bruce Berger Papers
Creator: Berger, Bruce
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0783
Physical Description: 2 Linear feet (4 archives boxes, 1 card file box)
Physical Description: .108 GB of digital files
Date (inclusive): 1968-2015
Abstract: Papers of Bruce Berger, a nonfiction writer and poet, which document his travel and research in Baja, California from the late 1960s through 2015.

Scope and Content of Collection

Papers of Bruce Berger, a nonfiction writer and poet, which document his travel and research in Baja, California from the late 1960s through 2015. The collection consists primarily of short works such as typewritten journal entries and essays, supplemental research materials (clippings, reports and pamphlets), and a selection of manuscripts from Berger's books Almost an Island (1998), Sierra, Sea and Desert: El Vizcaíno (1998), and La Giganta y Guadalupe (2010). The collection contains audiocassettes that record interviews conducted by Berger. Some of the material, particularly the supplemental materials, are in Spanish.


Bruce Nicolas Berger was born in 1938 in Evanston, Illinois. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from Yale in 1961. Berger pursued graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley, but did not receive a degree. Instead, he settled in Francoist Spain from 1965 to 1967, learning Spanish and playing the piano to earn an income. In 1968, he made his first journey to Baja California. Over the next fifty years, he would reside alternatively between Baja and his home in Aspen, Colorado.
Berger has published over a dozen books, many of which consider themes of "the intersections of nature and culture, usually in desert settings" ( His essays and poetry have appeared in publications such as New Letters and Orion Magazine. He was the recipient of the 1990 Western States Book Award for Creative Nonfiction, the 2006 Colorado Authors' League Award for Specialty Writing, and the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award's Silver Medal for the Most Outstanding Nonfiction Book of the Year (for The End of the Sherry).

Preferred Citation

Bruce Berger Papers. MSS 783. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

Acquisition Information

Acquired 2015, 2017.

Publication Rights

Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


Original audiocassette recordings are restricted for preservation. Researchers may request listening copies in advance of their visit.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Baja California (Mexico : Peninsula) -- Description and travel
La Paz (Baja California Sur, Mexico) -- Social life and customs
Berger, Bruce -- Archives
Berger, Bruce -- Travel -- Mexico -- Baja California (Peninsula)



Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) SHORT WORKS AND SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIAL: Excerpted journal entries, short articles and/or essays, writing fragments, correspondence, and secondary materials relating to events, people, and places in Baja. Topics include: La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur; natural phenomena specific to Baja; prominent locals like Salvador Garcia Pineda ("El Jeque"); and environmental conservation. The titles of most folders are Berger's own.
Box 1, Folder 1

Baja California - Environmental concerns ca. 1992-2009

General note

Includes pamphlets, reports, and writings.
Box 1, Folder 2

Baja California - Islands 1988-2004

General note

Includes Berger essay, "The Science of Desert Islands."
Box 1, Folder 3

Baja California - Presentations and talks 1997-2012

General note

In Spanish.
Box 1, Folder 4

Baja California missions undated, 2002


Vertebrados de las islas del Pacífico de Baja California 2007

General note

Report by Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A. C.

Baja California Sur

Box 1, Folder 5

Copper industry report, Santa Rosalía 2008, 2011

Box 1, Folder 6

Desmadre 2001

General note

Includes newspaper clippings and information on the environmental debate of Escalera Nautica (Nautical Steps).
Box 1, Folder 7

Development, culture and roads ca. 1994-2015

General note

Includes journals, Loreto development pitches.
Box 1, Folder 8

Flora and fauna 1979-2002

General note

Includes clippings, reports, and Berger writings
Box 1, Folder 9

Presentations and talks 1997-2012

General note

Includes Berger essay, "On Translating Estela Davis."
Box 1, Folder 10

Problems and criticism 2000-2008

General note

Original title included following terms: Exploration, dispossession/despojo, privatization salt project in Laguna San Ignacio Aerocalifornia, charcoal/carbon, officials eating Caguama.
Box 1, Folder 11

Violence 2014-2015

Box 1, Folder 12

Water undated

Box 1, Folder 13

Balandra 2005-2008

General note

Includes clippings, writings, correspondence.
Box 1, Folder 14

Carbon Ironwood/Palo Fierro ca. 1993-2011

Box 1, Folder 15

El Vizcaino - Peninsular pronghorn and osprey 1984-1995

General note

Includes Berger essays, "Ex Portadora de Sal" and "Guerrero Negro."
Box 1, Folder 16

Estela Davis translation ca. 2000

Box 1, Folder 17

Evaporation (salt) plant and gray whales, San Ignacio Lagoon 1995-1999

Box 1, Folder 18

"La Virgen de El Coyote" and "Burning Eye" - Unpublished short essays undated


La Paz

Box 2, Folder 1

The Sheik of La Paz ca. 1995

General note

Unpublished essay.
Box 2, Folder 8

Castorena Davis, Lorella - Presentación del Avance de Investigación de "Palabras e Imagenes de la Ciudad de La Paz, 1900-1959" undated

General note

In Spanish.
Box 2, Folder 7

Writings 1990-2015

General note

Includes journal entries.
Box 2, Folder 6

Piano concert - "La Paz Intermezzo" 1973

Box 2, Folder 5

Drug violence 2014-2015

General note

Includes translation of letter from Fernando Aceves Garcia.
Box 2, Folder 4

Journal entries - Bahia Magdalena travel 1987 January-February

Box 2, Folder 3

Journal entries - Art and music 1992-1997

Box 2, Folder 2

Short clippings and writings 1976-2004

Box 2, Folder 9

Means, Tim and Nora White - Conversation 1991-1993

General note

Operators of Baja Expeditions. Includes descriptive writings and correspondence.
Box 2, Folder 10

Niparajá 2003-2010

Box 2, Folder 11

Niparajá - Socieda de Historia Natural Niparajá AC financial report 2003 March


Niparajá 2003-2007


Assorted files in a variety of format (PDF, Word, Excel, JPEG), primarily documenting environmental and conservation activities. Includes 2003 San Diego Natural History Museum Binational Multidisciplinary Expedition conservation report, and other reports on the Corredor San Cosme-Punta Mechudo, in Spanish.
Box 2, Folder 12

Pineda, Salvador Garcia - "El Jeque, Distiller of Damiana" 1992

General note

A well-known La Paz distiller and winemaker. Includes photos. Related audiocassettes in Box 5.
Box 2, Folder 13

Planeta Peninsula - Miguel Angel de la Cueva 2003

Box 2, Folder 14

Problems of carbon in flora and fauna ca. 2004

Box 2, Folder 15-16

San Cosme-Punta Mechudo corridor 1993-2003

General note

Various environmental studies and reports; correspondence with Tim Means.
Box 2, Folder 17

San Ignacio 1975-2005

General note

Includes journal entries, writings, clippings, and a reproduction photograph.
Box 2, Folder 18

San Ignacio - "Night of the Gueras" 1988

General note

Includes journal entries.
Box 3, Folder 1

Santa Rosalía church 1992-1997

General note

Includes clippings and notes.
Box 3, Folder 2

Whales and whale watching ca. 1983-1995

Box 1, Folder 19

Winemaking in the Comondus / The winemaking tradition in Los Comondú - Profile by Francisco López Gutiérrez on the Murrillo Pérpuli family and mission-style wines



Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) BOOKS AND ESSAYS: Drafts of a selection of Berger's major published works, including the books Almost an Island (1998), La Giganta y Guadalupe (2010), and Sierra, Sea and Desert: El Vizcaíno (1998).

Almost an Island

Box 3, Folder 3

"Islomania" - Alternative introduction undated

Box 3, Folder 4

Chapter 2 - Annotated draft undated

Box 3, Folder 5

Chapter 4 - Annotated draft 1977

Box 3, Folder 6

The Curse of the Chingadero undated

General note

Unpublished manuscript. Material within informs Chapter 4, pages 58-67.
Box 3, Folder 7-8

Son of the River Journal Meets Baja 1968

General note

Two versions of a chronicle of the first trip to Baja. Evolved into first chapter of Almost an Island.
Box 3, Folder 9-10

Baja California Precludes undated

Box 3, Folder 11

First Trip to Baja California with Katie Lee 1968


La Giganta y Guadalupe

Box 4, Folder 1

Drafts undated

Box 4, Folder 3

Interviews and background material 2008-2009

Box 4, Folder 4

Original and final texts with bios and captions 2008-2009

Box 4, Folder 5

Lico (Federico Savín Talamantes)/Sierra Le Gigante 2001-2012

General note

Uncompleted manuscript and journals: "Rancho San Juan, Santa Martha/San Carlos."
Box 4, Folder 7

Sierra, Sea and Desert: El Vizcaíno - Typescript 1998

Box 4, Folder 8

Sierra, Sea and Desert: El Vizcaíno - Interviews and background material 1995-1998

Box 4, Folder 9

Miscellaneous unpublished manuscripts undated



Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) NOTEBOOKS: Berger's notebooks, which include observations on topics ranging from the total solar eclipse of 1991, to cave paintings in Baja. Titles are Berger's own.
Box 4, Folder 10

Cueva Pentada 1977 October

Box 4, Folder 11

Total solar eclipse 1991-1992

General note

Includes background materials and research.
Box 4, Folder 12

Cave paintings, Sierra San Francisco, Santa Rosalía and San Ignacio 1995

Box 4, Folder 13

El Vizcaíno, Guadalajara, Puerto Chale, misc. ca. 1990-1999

Box 4, Folder 14

Isla Cedros, la Reforma, notes on habitat 2003

Box 4, Folder 15

Miscellaneous Baja notebooks undated, 1991



Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) AUDIOCASSETTES: Sound recordings of Berger's interviews with Bajan locals, including personalities featured in Berger's writings, such as El Jeque. Identifying notes from the original cassettes were transcribed for the finding aid description.
Box 5, Folder 1

DR at Eclipse, Robert Fadal 1992 April 2


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 2-3

El Jeque 1992 May 15


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 4

Ruben 1993 March 23


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 5

Alev and Rina 1993 May 5


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 6

Mary and Mac - El Meson 1993 May 15


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 7

Bertine 1993 May


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 8

Victor Sanchez Sotomayor undated


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 9

Consuelo (entrevista y trando Puerto de Ilusion) 1994 April


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 10

Consuelo (Hymno de las Mujeres Profesionistas) undated


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 11

Paul Lorem (7/10) Walter (7/11) Abrams family undated


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 12

Jose Luis Leon 2009 March 30


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 13

Fermin 2009 April 3

General note

Possibly defective tape.


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 14

Fermin 2009 April 3


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 15

Organico Alevanra Nieto - Gari Bay undated


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 16

Carmen Vazquez 2009 May 1


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 17

Fco DLMOS 2009 May 6


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 18

Aaron 2009 May 7


Restrictions Apply
Box 5, Folder 19

Paty Galino/Sergio Alvarez 2009 May 8


Restrictions Apply