MS 268 Dutilleul Mission Valley Journal

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Dutilleul, Fernando
Dutilleul Mission Valley Journal
MS 268
1.0 Linear feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English and French.
This collection consists of one journal written in French and English by Fernando Dutilleul to his mother. It contains an essay on the history of the San Diego Mission and numerous drawings of the plant and bird life of Mission Valley, California.

Preferred Citation

Dutilleul Mission Valley Journal, MS 268, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

In 1912, Fernando Dutilleul walked through Mission Valley, California. He made sketches of local plant and bird life and wrote down notes on their environment. He supplemented his walks with research at the public library, and wrote and illustrated an essay on the history and discovery of the San Diego Mission. He was particularly interested in the daily life of the mission and the relationship between the missionaries and their “Indian converts.”

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Scope and Content

This collection consists of one journal written by Fernando Dutilleul to his mother. The journal has four distinct sections. The first section contains an introductory note to Fernando’s mother and the essay titled “Histoire – Decouverte,” both of which are in French. This section has three full page illustrations plus assorted smaller sketches in the margins of the essay. The second section is titled “Flora de la Vallée.” There is an introduction in French, followed by 25 full-page, colored sketches of local flowering plants. Most sketches are accompanied by notes on their formal name, their local name, and a physical description of the plant. The notes are almost entirely in French, though a few have phrases in English. The third section is titled “Les Oiseaux de la Vallée.” This section consists of four full-page sketches of birds. Only the first sketch is colored and noted with the name of the bird. The final section of the journal is a separate booklet tucked in at the end. This booklet contains an English translation of the introductory note to Fernando’s mother and the essay “History – Discovery.” There are several discrepancies between the French and English essays, including full sentences only in the French version or only in the English version. The English essay is the only section of the journal with page numbers. Finally, the journal contains a hand-drawn map of Mission Valley, pasted inside the front cover, and two photographs of Fernando Dutilleul in the valley.

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Journal is arranged by four sections: introductory note, essay (French), illustrations, and essay (English translation).

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection August 1, 2012

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 950105.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Samantha Mills on August 1, 2012.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • San Diego Mission.


  • Diaries

Geographic Name(s)

  • Mission Valley (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Dutilleul, Fernando


  • Birds
  • Drawing
  • Drought-tolerant plants
  • Plants
  • Valley plants

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Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

All pages are detached from binding. Pages are very thin, and ink is fading to brown. Fold-out map on inside front cover is cracked along the fold crease. (August 1, 2012)

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Collection Inventory

Mission Valley journal, 1912

Entries of Interest:

Section: “Histoire – Decouverte” (French)

• Photo of Fernando standing in front of “Hedge of Cacti near the Mission” comes directly after the introductory note to his mother, facing the first page of “Histoire – Decouverte.”

• Colored sketch of “La Mission de San Diego de Alcala 1852.”

• Colored sketch of Indians gathered by riverside.

• Black and white sketch of “Ruines de la Mission S. Diego 1912.”

Section: “Flora De La Vallée” (some in French)

• Entries that have descriptive notes in English and French: Columbine (Aquilegia truncata); Blue eyed grass (Sisyrinchium bellum); California live oak (Quercus agrifolia); California laurel (Oreodaphne Californica); Madroña (Arbutus menziesii); (Opuntia augustata); (Opuntia occidentalis).

Section: “Les Oiseaux de la Vallée” (some in French)

• Only the first bird is colored and labeled: “Famille Icteridae, Meadow Lark, Sturnella Magna.”

Section: “History – Discovery ” (English translation)

• Translation of letter to his mother.

• Description of the first mission built in California: “Here was the beginning of the city of San Diego, called by the Indians Cosoy and Old Town by the moderns.” (page 3)

• Description of an incident in which two Indian converts fled the mission after a feast day and were accused of stealing food. There is a parenthetical note that is only in the English essay: “(why should they have stolen food, during every celebration they always had double rations of everything etc. it is not plausible perhaps they had a sister and some soldier!!!!).” (page 6)

• Description of a night-time walk Fernando took up to the Mission. While thinking on all this history he envisioned the building in his imagination as it had been before. This corresponds to the first illustration in the French essay. (page 7)

• Description of the rebuilding of the Mission after its destruction, as well as the building of a reservoir on the river. The French essay has a more detailed description of the layout of the building, the whitewashed clay exterior, and tiles Fernando found buried in the ground (pages 10-11)

• Fernando responds to some historians’ claim that the treatment of Indians was akin to slavery: “But in the case of the Missions in California I do not think the Padre could have allowed such a thing they were too small number and the soldiers in the Mission were under the orders of the Franciscans, who without doubt were men of intelligence and education far superior to those Spanish Conquistadors.” (page 15)

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