The twenty-one documents in this collection, primarily inventories, account books, and annual reports from five California
missions, show economic and social aspects of life at the missions. The documents, written in Spanish and dated from 1791-1846,
provide information about the people living and working at the missions, including numbers of baptisms, marriages, births,
and deaths; number and kinds of livestock and crops; descriptions of property and buildings; and accountings of debits and
credits. The collection also includes documents reflecting financial and social transactions at multiple or unspecified missions.
As part of their colonial designs on Alta California, the Spanish founded missions, presidios, and pueblos in order to secure
and develop this territory; these California missions thus served as the engine for the region's economic and political development.
The missions were conceived as self-sufficient entities that, in enlisting a Christianized Native American population as their
labor force, would receive minimal financial and material support from the Viceroyalty in New Spain. As the missions grew
more productive and supply lines from Mexico dwindled, their goods and labor increasingly supported each other and the needs
of the presidios and pueblos. In the years prior to Mexican independence (1821) and secularization (1834), many of the missions
were very productive in agriculture, artisanal production, and trade, as the Native Americans grew and harvested crops, tended
livestock, and manufactured goods in mission workshops. As part of their duties, the Franciscan Fathers heading the California
missions kept detailed records about the missions and their inhabitants, sending inventories, account books, and annual and
biennial reports to their affiliated presidios and to the administrators in Mexico City. After secularization, inventories
were also conducted before missions were leased or sold.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.