David J. Weber, Book Review Editor
A Select Bibliographical Guide to California Catholic Periodical Literature 1844-1973. Compiled and annotated by Rev. Francis J. Weber, Archivist, Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Los Angeles: Dawson’s Bookshop, 1973. 118 pages. $10.00.
Reviewed by Lionel U. Ridout, Professor of History, San Diego State University. Dr. Ridout has worked on the history of religion in California, and is author of such articles as “Priests, Pistols, and Polemics,” California Historical Society Quarterly (1958).
There is no question but that the Reverend Father Francis J. Weber, Archivist of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, is a major member of the Big Six of California’s Roman Catholic historians. He is a productive scholar on the order of fathers Zephyrin Engelhardt, John B. McGloin, Maynard J. Geiger, Finbar Kenneally and Antonine Tibesar. Father Weber, author of, among many other works. The Missions and Missionaries of Baja California, California Missions as Others saw Them, Readings in California Catholic History, and Documents Of California Catholic History, has been a major contributor to the historical wealth of the state. It was he also who discovered that the Mexican stamp honoring Father Junípero Serra and issued during California’s bicentennial, did not carry the likeness of Serra, but that of Father Francisco Palou, Serra’s best friend and biographer.
Father Weber’s present work is the fourth in a series of valuable bibliographies of Catholic California. His Select Bibliographical Guide to California Catholic Periodical Literature 1844-1973 contains 800 items of interest, not only to Catholic historians, but to all persons interested in California’s vivid and exciting past. As Father Weber points out in his preface, these entries provide “a useful tool for analyzing and appraising the Franciscan enterprize in the Golden State and the years of transition and development that followed its wake.” Fortunately over 95% of the items listed are available in either original or xerox form. As Andrew Rolle says in his brief foreword, “His writings are helping to place California’s religious history in an appropriate new setting.”
Father Weber has annotated each item succinctly and often pungently. These comments, usually of one sentence, are so well phrased that the reader can tell readily, for the most part, whether or not he wishes to read or ignore the article listed. I found no fewer than forty items, on first reading, that titillated my curiosity and are marked to be read. I was interested to learn that John Thomas Doyle’s “History of the Pious Fund” is, in altered form, to be found in John Steven McGroarty’s California, Its History and Romance, a work I have long owned but never got around to reading!
This work is not only a guide to specific periodical articles, but as well to periodicals existing but not well-known, or to defunct journals that apparently would grace the shelves of any library. Some of the better-known periodicals include the justly famed Overland Monthly, Land of Sunshine, The Americas, California Historical Society Quarterly, Southern California Quarterly, The Pacific Historical Quarterly, and so on. I was interested that the California History Nugget, edited by my one-time professor, the late Owen C. Coy, long a teacher at the University of Southern California and Director of the California State Historical Association, was well represented. Also included are a number of religious publications which are possibly not well known to non-catholics, but probably should be. They carried, and some still carry, articles relevant to many phases of California history.
Father Maynard Geiger, author of the definitive biography of Father Serra, appears 54 times in this bibliography; Father John B. McGloin has 26 entries, and Father Weber lists 78 of his own contributions to the advancement of our knowledge of California history. The works of these three men must not be ignored.
It is interesting that Father Weber’s comment on an article by the young Jack D. Forbes. University of California, Davis, indicates a quite negative reaction; this was surprising since Forbes has received much favorable criticism. It was equally surprising to learn that certain of the works of S. F. Cook are now considered outdated—but which one or which ones is not stated. Could it be his Conflict Between the Indian and the White Man? One title appears to have a typographical error, but I may be wrong. This is Anna Caroline Field’s “A Southwestern Sleepy Hallow.” Should it be “Hollow?”
But these are small, carping criticisms of a work that is a real contribution and boon to California bibliography and to the state’s historians. It adds to the compiler’s already great stature as an observer of California’s past and present. It is a small work in format, but it is to be prized — an addition of value to university, public or private libraries.