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Cowan (Robert E.) collection of early California manuscripts
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Processing Information
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Biographical History
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Robert E. Cowan collection of early California manuscripts
    Creator: Cowan, Robert Ernest
    source: Cowan, Robert Ernest
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.2048
    Physical Description: 5 Linear Feet (10 boxes)
    Physical Description: 116 Gigabytes (5,278 Files, 163 Folders) Files transferred from 1 hard drive.
    Date (inclusive): 1551-1932
    Abstract: Collection consists of miscellaneous manuscripts pertaining to California history.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: Materials are primarily in English, some materials in Spanish, Chinese, and French.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

    Property rights to the objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS DIGITAL MATERIALS: This collection contains processed digital materials. All requests to access digital materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Part purchase, part gift of Robert Cowan, 1936.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Robert E. Cowan collection of early California manuscripts (Collection Number 2048). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, Univeristy of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 9942327493606533 

    Processing Information

    Digital materials were received on 1 hard drive. All digital file naming, organization, and arrangement was retained.
    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    We are committed to providing ethical, inclusive, and anti-racist description of the materials we steward, and to remediating existing description of our materials that contains language that may be offensive or cause harm. We invite you to submit feedback about how our collections are described, and how they could be described more accurately, by filling out the form located on our website: Report Potentially Offensive Description in Library Special Collections. 

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Fremont Ackerman correspondence, ca. 1888-1895
    2. Alta California, ca. 1834-1914
    3. Attorneys, court, and legal records, ca. 1841-1896
    4. Mexico, ca. 1551-1855
    5. Newspaper clippings & manuscripts, ca. 1844-1892
    6. Northern California, ca. 1845-1932
    7. Pacific Northwest, ca. 1845-1890
    8. Property records, ca. 1847-1877.

    Biographical History

    Robert Ernest Cowan was born in Toronto, Canada in 1862. He arrived in San Francisco in 1870 and was best known for the publication of bibliographies and other works on early California history including: A bibliography of the history of California, 1510-1930, Bibliography of the Chinese question in the United States (with Boutwell Dunlap), and The Spanish press of California, 1833-1845. Robert Ernest Cowan collected a wide-array of materials on early California history that would later form the nucleus of the UCLA Department of Special Collections's holdings in Californiana. Cowan was a former student at UC Berkeley from 1882-84, a San Francisco bookseller from 1895-1920, and a librarian for William Andrews Clark, Jr., from 1919-1933. Robert Cowan married Marie Margaret Fleissner in 1894 and they had one child, Robert Granniss Cowan. Robert Ernest Cowan died in Los Angeles in May 1942.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of early California manuscripts collected by Robert Ernest Cowan. Researchers on 19th century California may be especially drawn to the collection's extensive legal documents, property records, San Francisco materials, and documents relating to Spanish-Mexican California. The collection is comprised of materials mainly written in English, with a fair amount of documents written in Spanish and a few items written in Chinese and French. A few of the more interesting items in this collection are two manuscripts from 16th century Mexico, a deposition written in Chinese that was submitted as an exhibit in a U.S. District Court case, account ledgers showing mercantile transactions involving Spanish-Mexican families, requests for reimbursements stemming from the Mexican-American War, and property transactions involving women. A majority of the collection has been digitized and is available for access. All requests to access digital materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Related Material

    Robert Ernest Cowan Papers (Collection 232).  Available at the UCLA Library Special Collections.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Manuscripts, Spanish -- Mexico.
    California -- History -- Sources.
    Cowan, Robert Ernest
    Ackerman, Fremont -- Correspondence