The Journal of San Diego History
Spring 1976, Volume 22, Number 2
James E. Moss, Editor


David J. Weber, Book Review Editor

Californiana III. Documentos para la historia de la transformacion colonizadora de California (1679-1686). Edited by W. Michael Mathes. Madrid: Ediciones Jose Porr{ta Turanzas, 1974. (Colecci6n Chimalistac, nos. 36, 37, 38). Bibliography. Glossary. Illustrations. Maps. 845 pages in three volumes. $10,000 pesetas.

Reviewed by David J. Weber, Professor of History at San Diego State University and Book Review Editor for the Journal of San Diego History.

Together these three volumes represent the third book of Michael Mathes’ monumental collection of documents relating to the history of the two Californias. Californiana I, which appeared in 1965, focused principally on the sixteenth century. Californiana II (1970-71), dealt with the years 1611-1679 and the theme of commercial exploitation which took Mathes beyond the Californias into Asian waters as well. Californiana III, containing documentation from the years 1679-1686, treats the first official effort to colonize Baja California utilizing funds from the royal treasury. Private enterprise, chiefly pearl fishing, had failed earlier.

In 1683 Isidro Atondo y Antillón, Governor of Sinaloa, established a colony at San Bruno after an abortive attempt at settling at La Paz. Atondo was accompanied by Eusebio Francisco Kino, the Jesuit who would later win fame as the “Apostle to the Pimas” in northern Sonora and southern Arizona. The colony at San Bruno never became self-sustaining. Dependent upon provisions brought by costly voyages from the mainland, San Bruno was abandoned in 1685. Atondo’s effort, then, was a prelude to permanent Spanish colonization of the peninsula under Padre Juan María Salvatierra, which began at Loreto in 1697 and which seems destined to be the subject of Californiana IV.

Like the rest of this extraordinary series, Californiana III is an extraordinary reference work that will never need to be redone. Mathes has brought together previously unpublished documents from civil and ecclesiastical archives and transcribed them in paleographic form (a glossary of terms and abbreviations will help the uninitiated). Anthropologists, botanists, geographers, and historians interested in Baja California will find nuggets of information in these documents which Mathes has now made more accessible. Californiana III is clearly aimed at only a small group of scholars and reference libraries. It was printed in an edition of 250 copies and seems destined to become a costly collector’s item.