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Finding Aid for the Collection of California Missions inventories, reports, and other material 0374
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Collection Details
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  • Historical Note
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Arrangement Note
  • Acquisition note
  • Processing Note
  • Scope and Content

  • Title: Collection of California Missions inventories, reports, and other material
    Collection number: 0374
    Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Language of Material: Spanish
    Physical Description: 0.42 Linear feet 1 box
    Date: 1791-1846, undated
    Language of Materials: Materials are in Spanish. The collection includes one document in English and some English-language notes.
    Abstract: 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.

    Historical Note

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [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.

    Arrangement Note

    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.

    Acquisition note

    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.

    Processing Note

    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
    Account books
    Annual reports
    Baptismal certificates
    California--History--To 1846--Archival resources
    Indians of North America--Missions--California--Archival resources
    Legal documents
    Missions, Spanish--California--History--Archival resources
    Missions, Spanish--Economic aspects--California--Archival resources
    Promissory notes