The Journal of San Diego History
Winter 2000, Volume 46, Number 1
Gregg Hennessey, Editor

Book Notes

Documenting Everyday Life in Early Spanish California: The Santa Barbara Presidio Memorias y facturas, 1779-1810

Edited by Giorgio Perissinotto. Santa Barbara: Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, 1998. 405 pp. Illustrations, appendices, bibliography, Index of Terms. $49.95 Hardcover.

There is a paucity of written personal records from California’s Spanish era; thus official and business documents are extremely important. Two of the most significant types of documents are requisitions and invoices. Coupled with material remains, they are one of the main sources for understanding life in colonial California. The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation has done the historical and archaeological profession a service by publishing this fine collection of fifty-two requisitions dating from 1779-1810. They deal with Santa Barbara, but they are important to San Diego historians as well. Much of what we can learn about California’s Spanish past must be extrapolated from wide-ranging source. Thus for the San Diego historian, there may not be any “San Diego” documents in this collection, but the insights into San Diego life in the period can be gain by extrapolation from these documents. The book is well edited, the documents are presented side by side in Spanish and English. There is a good introduction explaining the importance of the documents, the currency, weights and measures, the nature of many of the goods of the period, and an explanation of the language of the times. An index facilitates quick research in the book. Color photographs are both helpful and beautiful. This is not a book to read, but it is a major contribution to the researcher in California history for the period covered.