The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1973, Volume 19, Number 2
James E. Moss, Editor

David J. Weber, Book Review Editor

A Colony For California: Riverside’s First Hundred Years. By Tom Patterson. Riverside, Ca.: Press-Enterprise Company, 1971. Bibliography. Illustrations. Index. 511 pages. $8.00.

Reviewed by Edwin T. Coman, Jr., Director Stanford Graduate School of Business Library and Assistant Professor Business History, 1936-1950. Mr. Coman is the author of Time, Tide and Timber. The 100 Year History of Pope & Talbot, Inc. (1949), Sources of Business Information (1964), and numerous articles for historical publications. He now resides in San Diego and continues to write on business history and library topics.

Upon first picking up this book it struck me as being a rather pedestrian and dull account of the history of the City of Riverside. However, as I read on, I became increasingly impressed by the vast amount of details which Tom Patterson sifted through to write this history.

A knowledge of much of the material from which he drew his information and of all the earlier histories of Riverside gave me a good perspective from which to judge the excellence of Patterson’s research and writing. His publication is superior to the earlier histories of Riverside which range from “Mug Books” to histories written by dedicated authors with little historical backgrounds.

Patterson has been painstaking in running down the most elusive bit of information and has been tireless in interviewing oldtimers. He has tried to relate events as accurately as possible and has been frank to indicate facts of dubious authenticity. However, the account of the founding and development of the general campus of the University of California at Riverside could profitably have been discussed in more detail.

The bringing together of this large collection of data into any kind of readable form must have taxed the author’s writing skill to the utmost.

The book is profusely illustrated with photographs of people, places and early houses. This has helped to liven the text and to provide a visual record of Riverside as it developed. The detailed index adds to the usefulness of this work.

This book is an up-to-date and definitive history of one of the older California communities and is an excellent example of what a local history should be.