Raymond Starr, Book Reviews Editor
The Penultimate Mission: A Documentary History of San Rafael, Arcangel. Compiled and Edited by Francis J. Weber. Hong Kong: Libra Press Limited. 1983. 113 Pages. Price Unavailable.
The thirteenth volume in Francis J. Weber’s series on the California missions concerns San Rafael, which was founded in 1817 as a “hospital mission” to provide a healthier climate for the natives than that found in what later became known as San Francisco. The mission had 1140 Indians in residence by 1828, but declined after the Mexican Revolution, and after the American takeover, virtually dropped out of sight. Indeed, one writer noted: “From this time  the ex-Mission had no history.” Perhaps because the mission’s existence was brief and it had little history, this volume is much shorter than others in the series. It also has very little contemporary or primary material. Indeed, only nine of the 113 pages deal with sources originating prior to 1900. Even more than in other volumes, the selections are journalistic, with a considerable sprinkling of poetry. As is the pattern for the series, there is no documentation, no index and no bibliography.