The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 1986, Volume 32, Number 1
Thomas L. Scharf, Editor

Book Review

Raymond Starr, Book Review Editor

Live Again Our Mission Past.

By George Kuska and Barbara Linse. Larkspur, Ca: Arts’ Books, 1983. Illustrations. Maps, Glossary. Bibliography. 165 Pages. $11.95 Paperback.

The Indians and the California Missions.

By Linda Lyngheim. Van Nuys, Ca: Langtry Publications, 1984. Illustrations. Map. Glossary. Bibliography. Index. 127 pages. $9.95 Paper.

Teacher’s Guide to La Purisima Mission.

Lompoc, Ca: La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, n.d. Illustrations. Maps. 25 Pages. $1.00 Paper.

Reviewed by Eleanor Neely, Director of Education, Serra Museum, San Diego Historical Society.

For several years this reviewer has been concerned that little has been written regarding the teaching of California’s mission heritage to school age children. That concern has been somewhat lessened by three recent publications which have just become available to teachers, parents, and students.

Lynda Lyngheim’s The Indians and the California Missions is highly recommended for students grades four through six. The author, a children’s librarian, recognized the need for a well written and accurate account of the early period of California’s history. Lyngheim successfully captures the young readers’ interest by taking them back in time and helping them to discover the important events which shaped our twenty one missions. The author introduces the students to the native Californians through delightful and well written stories. She brings to life the mission period with accounts of the daily life of both the missionaries and the Indians. Lyngheim shows, for example, how Indians were taught European cooking, farming, carpentry, tanning, music, weaving, and how to make adobe block and brick. She also provides historical vignettes of each mission and a chapter on the life of Father Serra. Indians and the California Missions also includes a glossary of terms and bibliography of books and pamphlets. The book is a “must” for every fourth grade student. It can be ordered from Langley Publications, 7838 Burnet Avenue, Van Nuys 91405.

A good instructional book is the Teacher’s Guide to La Purisima Mission, which was prepared by the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park for presentation to fourth grade teachers in conjunction with field trips to the mission. The well written packet is filled with good pre and post tour activities and is a valuable tool for a teacher. Although the information focuses on the Chumash Indian culture and the La Purisima Conception Mission life, the activities may be adapted by teachers for use in other parts of California. The book provides good ideas for motivational and culmination activities, plus a time-line, examples of Spanish culture, Chumash acculturation, the history of La Purisima mission, a chronology of California history, a bibliography and a list of resource persons. It is available from the La Purisima Mission State Historic Park, RFD Box 102-P — Purisima Road, Lompoc 93436.

The third book, Live Again Our Mission Past, is close to being a “must” book as well. The authors, George Kuska and Barbara Linse, put much time, planning and hard work into the preparation of this well organized treasury of worthwhile activities. Their intent was to provide a teacher with a complete resource book of historical sketches, maps, time-lines, glossaries, and suggested activities for the classroom. While it is a useful guide for many student activities, Live Again Our Mission Past’s credibility is severely limited because of the lack of care taken with regard to historical accuracy. It is recommended that teachers, parents, and scout leaders use the book for the purpose of acquiring ideas for the classroom, meeting room or home. They should, however, have accurate and comprehensive resource material close at hand for checking the validity of the historical information. The book can be ordered from Educational Book Distributors, P.O. Box 551, San Mateo, CA 94401.

These three books, but especially Indians and the California Missions and the teacher’s guide to Purisima, go a long way toward meeting the need to educate our children about California’s and San Diego’s mission past. Teachers, parents, and young people are urged to make use of them.