Serra’s Sojourn

Mallorca to Mexico to the missions of Alta California: Understand the journeys of this priest, and it may change the way you understand American history itself

Serra’s Sojourn
Junípero Serra came to California when he was 55—nearly four decades after he had joined the Franciscans. View full image. Portrait of Serra courtesy Santa Barbara Mission Archives

The announcement by Pope Francis on Jan. 15, 2015 that he would canonize Junípero Serra came as a surprise to most people. The pope made the announcement as he was flying to Manila from Sri Lanka, where he had just canonized the first Sri Lankan saint, Joseph Vaz. So canonization was probably on his mind when he spoke to reporters on the plane. Some observers suspected that he may have jumped the gun and made the announcement before all of the Vatican paperwork had been completed. If so, that undoubtedly contributed to the surprise.

But if the announcement was unexpected, the reactions were entirely more predictable. Pro- and anti-Serra camps immediately emerged in the press and on social media. In one camp, Serra was presented as a selfless and courageous man who brought the Gospel and various forms of European culture to California. In the other, he was portrayed as a rigid and grisly agent of Spanish colonialism who set up a system that was responsible for great suffering and death among California’s native peoples.

There was nothing new about these conflicting interpretations. Arguments advanced by the pro-Serra camp were in many ways unchanged since they had been formulated in the early 20th century by proponents of the Southern California “Spanish revival” movement. Arguments advanced by the anti-Serra camp stemmed from the reorientation of much of American history since the 1960s and 1970s, as previously marginalized groups—including Native Americans—were placed in the foreground of historical inquiry. Pro- and anti-Serra arguments swirled around California in the 1980s, as the Church moved closer to beatifying Serra. And, almost as if out of a time warp, virtually the same arguments appeared in 2015. The most significant novelty was the venues, such as contrasting Facebook pages with titles like “Fr. Serra News” and “No Sainthood for Serra.”

This is unfortunate, for the last couple of decades have seen a much more nuanced picture of Spanish colonialism in California emerge through scholarship by James Sandos (Converting California, 2008), Steven Hackel (Junípero Serra, 2013), Lisbeth Haas (Saints and Citizens, 2013), and others. The same process has occurred within the Catholic Church itself. Indeed, one of the most important new perspectives on Serra was articulated by Los Angeles Archbishop José Horacio Gómez, a strong supporter of the canonization. In a speech in Rome on May 2, 2015, Archbishop Gómez argued that Serra’s personal journeys throw important light upon the experience of the United States in general and on California in particular. Like so many Europeans in the 17th to the 20th centuries, including the parents of Pope Francis, Serra immigrated to the New World in 1749. Twenty years later, like so many people in our own age, Serra journeyed from what is now Mexico into what is now the United States. Serra’s voyage from Spain to America reminds us that the growth of our country has always been more complex than the story offered by the standard “east to west” narrative, starting with Jamestown and Plymouth Rock. And Serra’s migration from Mexico to California, into a land already populated by more than 300,000 Native Americans, reminds us that multiculturalism isn’t new, it’s woven into the foundational fabric of our society.

We began researching our book on Junípero Serra a decade ago. Since much of our previous work had involved translations of Spanish and Mexican documents, we decided to focus upon Serra’s words. After doing extensive research on Serra, reading every surviving word that he wrote, and consulting documents that came from California, Mexico, and Spain, we came to believe that a proper study of Serra rests upon two foundations. First, a full understanding of this man demands a critical awareness of his own self-conscious identity, that of an 18th-century Roman Catholic Franciscan missionary priest. Second, from the moment Junípero Serra stepped ashore at Veracruz, Mexico, on Dec. 7, 1749, until his death at Carmel on Aug. 28, 1784, he believed that the most important relationships in his life were between himself and the native peoples of the Americas.

MALLORCA TO MEXICO CITY

BAJA BEGINNINGS: This map appeared in the first written history of California, published in Madrid in 1757.

Serra was born on the island of Mallorca in 1713. He grew up in the village of Petra, attended a grammar school run by the Franciscans, and at the age of 16 he joined the order. After a year’s novitiate outside the island’s capital, Palma, he took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. On this occasion, he also changed his name from his baptismal name of Miquel to Junípero, in honor of one of the first companions of St. Francis of Assisi. In the Franciscan tradition, Brother Junípero was an exemplar of simplicity and humility. Serra’s choice of that name most likely stemmed from a self-critical awareness of his own inner life. His year of living as a Franciscan novice had made him realize that attaining those two key virtues would represent a constant challenge for him. Invoking the name and patronage of Brother Junípero was his way of praying to be granted these qualities. Serra studied philosophy and theology, was ordained a priest in 1737, and advanced through the academic ranks. In 1743, at the Pontifical University in Palma he was appointed to the Chair of Scotistic Theology—named for 13th-century Franciscan thinker John Duns Scotus, whose theology emphasized God’s boundless love for humanity and all of his creation.

Serra became a respected teacher and preacher on Mallorca. When the university was not in session, he gave sermons and retreats in churches throughout the island. For one sermon during Lent to a convent of Poor Clares, Serra took as his theme a verse from one of the Psalms, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Following Scotus, Serra told the sisters that God could be experienced as divine sweetness. Before a person ever tasted a particular piece of candy, for instance, she would never have any conception of this delicacy. After tasting, she would find that it pleased her in a way she had never imagined and she would crave it more and more. This was how God touched people, he preached. If you have never experienced God, you do not know what you are missing. But once the divine sweetness touches you, you find that you cannot get enough of it and you are impelled to surrender yourself joyfully to the divine presence. When Serra became a missionary in America, his hope would be that he would gradually be able to introduce indigenous peoples to the sweetness of his God.

Serra also preached that the afflictions that God might send people were part of the divine sweetness. God might occasionally punish, but not because he enjoyed being stern. He was simply a responsible father, in whom “love and strictness are in harmony.” God was also like a doctor. He might administer harsh treatment—but for the sick person’s own good. As a missionary, Serra would regard himself as a strict father and loving doctor to indigenous people.

At some point in the late 1740s, Serra began to feel that his increasingly successful academic career was not satisfying his deepest urges. Mallorca, located on a number of Mediterranean trade routes, had always looked outward. Franciscans on the island had a tradition of missionary activity. Indeed, the Church of San Francisco held the tomb of Ramon Llull, a 13th–century member of the third order of St. Francis who had engaged in missionary activity among Muslims in North Africa and established on Mallorca a school to train missionaries in Arabic language. So as Serra examined the disquiet that gnawed at him, it was natural for him to think of leaving Mallorca and becoming a missionary. His closest friend, fellow Franciscan Francisco Palóu, stated that Serra began to experience desires he had felt when he was a novice: to bring the Gospel to people who had not been baptized. St. Francis himself had once preached as a missionary to the sultan of Egypt. And since the discovery of America, thousands of Spanish Franciscans had ventured across the Atlantic to serve as missionaries to the native peoples in the large empire their country was establishing.

Serra learned that a recruiting expedition from the Colegio de San Fernando, the Franciscan missionary headquarters in Mexico City, was in Spain. He and four other Franciscans, including Palóu and another former student, Juan Crespí, volunteered. Serra learned that he had been accepted while he was preaching in his home village of Petra. He left without telling his parents. He knew he would probably never see them again. Most likely he felt that an emotional departure would be too much for the aged couple. A few months later, in the port of Cádiz in Spain, awaiting transport to America, he wrote to the parish priest of Petra and asked him to tell his parents of his decision and implored them to understand it: “I beg you once again to comfort my parents. I know they will be greatly affected by my leaving. I wish I could instill in them the great joy that I am experiencing because I believe they would urge me to go forth and never turn back.” Serra and Palóu left Cádiz on Aug. 31, 1749. Aboard the boat carrying them, the Villasota, were 20 Franciscans and seven Dominicans, all bound for the New World. After a six-week voyage, the boat put in at San Juan, Puerto Rico. There the fledgling missionaries undertook to preach a series of sermons. For Serra, things did not go well. On Mallorca he had moved congregations to tears. In Puerto Rico, when he tried the approach that worked so well in his homeland, his listeners did not respond. He blamed himself and said that he did not yet have the “interior fervor” that he would need as a missionary. So when he arrived on the Mexican mainland on Dec. 6, he decided to do penance: walking 200 miles from Veracruz to Mexico City. During the journey, he was bitten by an insect and developed a serious infection in his leg that bothered him periodically for the rest of his life.

Serra spent New Year’s Eve in one of the most sacred spots in Catholic Mexico, the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the place where many believed that a dark-skinned Virgin Mary had appeared in 1531 to the Indian Juan Diego. The next day Serra arrived at the Colegio de San Fernando in Mexico City. After six months there, he and Palóu were assigned as missionaries to a rugged area approximately 200 miles north of Mexico City called the Sierra Gorda.

The Pame people there had already been gathered into missions by other priests. Serra spent eight years among them, learning the local indigenous language well enough to translate a number of basic prayers, devotions, and catechetical instructions into that tongue. He assisted with improving agricultural activities associated with the missions, and he struggled against the attempts of soldiers and settlers to encroach upon the mission lands, which he insisted belonged to the Indians.

Serra was abruptly recalled from the Sierra Gorda in 1758. At San Fernando he was told that he and Palóu were being assigned to Texas. Comanche Indians had recently destroyed the mission of San Sabá, about 125 miles north of San Antonio. Two of the three missionaries there had been killed. Serra and Palóu were slated to replace them. However, the Spanish army was unable to defeat the Comanches and the mission was never re-established.

Serra left the Sierra Gorda in 1768. For the next nine years, he was attached to the colegio and preached revival missions throughout Mexico. These were elaborate affairs. Invited by the local bishop, a group of Franciscans would enter a diocese, organize a series of penitential processions, preach emotional and boisterous calls to repentance, and encourage local people to return to the Church and confess their sins. The hope was that parishioners would recover their religious fervor. Serra also became involved in at least one Inquisition case in the area of Villa de Valles, north of the Sierra Gorda. One woman accused another of witchcraft; Serra briefly examined both accuser and accused before handing over the case to another Inquisition investigator. Both women were of mixed-race ancestry, and the case afforded Serra a close view of the religious syncretism—the mix between indigenous and Christian religious practices that was so prevalent in the villages of central Mexico.

 

CALIFORNIA CALLING

In 1767, King Carlos III expelled the Jesuits from his dominions in Spain and its empire. Missions that were staffed by the Jesuits now needed to be taken over by other religious orders. The Franciscans were assigned former Jesuit missions in Baja California, where Serra was appointed president of the Franciscans. He arrived at the main Jesuit Baja California mission, Nuestra Señora de Loreto, on April 1, 1768. He soon learned that the Spanish government, alarmed by potential Russian expansion into Alaska, had decided to extend its presence northward to occupy upper, or Alta California. The Baja California Franciscans were asked to send men north to establish missions in this new frontier. Serra was enthusiastic about participating in this venture. He felt that his journey northward would finally enable him to preach the Gospel to native peoples who had not yet received it. This had not been the case in the Sierra Gorda, since the Pame people had already been evangelized before he arrived in the region. Furthermore, everyone with whom he interacted while he was preaching revival missions throughout Mexico had already been baptized, and most of them were not even Indians themselves. And the natives of Baja California, among whom he was presently ministering, had been evangelized decades before by the Jesuits.

Mission Santa Clara, sketched in 1842, “Containing 1500 Indians and a Good Stock of Cattle.” This building was constructed after the original complex was destroyed by an earthquake in 1818.

Junípero Serra had spent 18 years in the New World. But the reason for which he had left his homeland, to preach the Gospel to unbaptized people, had thus far eluded him. The move into Alta California would finally allow him, at the age of 55, to become a true missionary.

The immediate object of the Spanish thrust north was to occupy two key sites—San Diego and Monterey—that had been discovered by earlier Spanish explorers. At both sites, a presidio and a mission were to be established. Two sea expeditions and two land expeditions set forth. Serra accompanied the new governor, Gaspar de Portolá, on the second land expedition. Shortly after they left the most recently founded Jesuit mission in Baja California, they arrived at an area as yet untouched by Christian evangelization. Serra founded his first mission, San Fernando de Velicatá. The next morning, May 15, 1769, he was told that a group of non-baptized Indians were approaching. As he described it in his diary: “For me it was a day of great consolation. Soon after the Masses were said, while I was quiet with my thoughts in the small hut that was my dwelling place, they alerted me that the gentiles were approaching and that they were close. I praised God, kissed the ground, and gave thanks to our Lord for granting me this opportunity to be among the gentiles in their own lands, after longing for this for so many years.”

Serra’s use of the term “gentile” to describe non-baptized Indians is significant. It was a religious term, and he consistently used religious language to describe non-baptized people. He generally avoided standard Spanish terms to describe native peoples outside the orbit of the empire, such as “savages,” “barbarians,” or “wild Indians.” The diary that Serra faithfully kept on his journey through northern Baja California to San Diego recorded his enthusiasm at his finally being able to engage in what he believed was his true missionary vocation. At last, he was bringing the message of Christ to those who had never heard it. Characterstic of his excitement and positive assessment is this diary entry about a group of Kumeyaay people he encountered: “As to their friendly nature, I cannot find the appropriate words to describe it. In addition to the countless number of men, a large group of women and children sat around me in a circle. One of the women wanted me to hold the infant she was nursing. I held him in my arms for a while, so wishing that I could baptize him, but I then returned the child to his mother. I make the sign of the cross and bless each of them. I have them say ‘Jesus and Mary.’ I give them what I am able to give and cherish them in the best way I can.” He believed that the local indigenous people he was meeting were anxious to receive the Gospel. Around what is now called Rosarito Beach, he wrote: “When I give them something to eat, they usually tell me with very clear gestures that they do not want that. Instead, they want me to give them my holy habit and grab me by the sleeve. If I had given the habit to all who requested it, I already would have a large community of gentile friars.” On June 1, 1769, his journey north ended. He wrote in his diary in large and bold letters, “The Port of San Diego. Thanks be to God!” Life was just beginning.

Soon after occupying San Diego, Portolá readied a land expedition to head farther north to take possession of Monterey. He left a small detachment of soldiers with Serra and two other priests at San Diego. A few days later, Serra founded Mission San Diego de Alcalá. And he soon discovered that local Kumeyaay were not nearly so accepting of the Spanish presence as he had anticipated. Skirmishes broke out around the fortified camp and mission during the second week of August, and a group of native fighters attacked the compound on Aug. 15. Superior Spanish firepower repelled the attack, but one defender was killed and three others, including one of Serra’s missionary companions, were wounded. Relations with indigenous groups were going to be much more complex and tentative than Serra had expected.

Portolá’s expedition returned in January, unsuccessful in their attempt to locate Monterey Bay. San Diego would have to be abandoned, Portolá concluded, unless the supply ship he had sent south to Mexico in July returned by March 19. Serra and the other missionaries undertook a novena, nine days of intense prayer, begging God that the ship might return in time. The relief vessel was sighted on March 19, just as Portolá was about to order the abandonment of the encampment and the expedition’s return to Baja California.

Portolá organized another trek north, this time a combined land and sea expedition. Monterey Bay was occupied by the end of May, and there Serra founded his second Alta California mission, San Carlos de Monterey, on June 3, 1770. As in San Diego, the mission was founded as part of the presidio; Portolá chose the fort’s location to defend the harbor from incursions by sea. But Serra was unhappy with the location. He wrote, “There is no ranchería [Indian village] at all in the vicinity of this port. Because of this, if we see that they are determined to accept our holy faith, we need to recognize the special difficulty they will have in taking up residence here. It might be necessary to leave the presidio here and with a few soldiers of the escort, move the mission close to the Carmel River, two short leagues to the south. It is a truly splendid location, capable of producing abundant crops because of the plentiful and excellent land and water.” For Serra, a mission needed to be accessible to the local native people, so that they could visit it at their convenience. In this way he hoped that they would gradually come to “taste and see” the goodness of the Christian message, as he had preached a quarter century earlier in Mallorca.

In 1771, Serra dispatched two priests to found Mission San Gabriel among the Tongva people. He himself founded Mission San Luis Obispo in the northern territory of the Chumash the next year. By this time relations between himself and the military commander of Alta California, Pedro Fages, had deteriorated beyond repair. The final straw, in Serra’s eyes, was Fages’ refusal to allow the foundation of Mission San Buenaventura along the Santa Bárbara Channel. Believing that the mission system would never prosper under Fages’ jurisdiction, Serra traveled to Mexico City. There he obtained a personal audience with the viceroy and convinced him to remove Fages from his post. Serra returned to Alta California in high spirits in 1774.

The next year and a half was the high point of Serra’s missionary career in California. An increasing number of local Rumsen Ohlone and Esselen people joined Mission San Carlos, where Serra believed that he was creating a viable multiethnic and multicultural Christian community. In a letter written during the summer of 1775, he described life in the mission community—harvesting of European-introduced crops and traditional gathering of sardines: “So many sardines appeared on the beach near the mission that we found it necessary to harvest wheat until noon and then gather sardines in the afternoon. This arrangement lasted for twenty consecutive days.” He and fellow priests participated appreciatively in family gatherings: “After two weeks of meatless meals, the following Sunday the Indians took a break from eating sardines and went out as a group to look for the nests that fish-eating birds build between the rocks. They pulled out large numbers of young birds that were the size of a large hen. They spent that Sunday camped out on the beach of Carmel, divided up into countless little groups, each with its own fire upon which they roasted the birds, and then they ate. I went with two other Padres to see the gathering. It was a period of contentment, a beautiful setting.”

WORLDS UNDONE

Serra’s world changed permanently and dramatically on the evening of Dec. 13, 1775. The commander of the presidio in Monterey, Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, rode through the darkness to the mission at Carmel. He informed Serra that Mission San Diego had been destroyed by a large attack of Kumeyaay fighters; one of the missionary priests was dead. That made Serra wonder what might happen if he himself were killed by Indians. A few days later he wrote the viceroy: “If the Indians were to kill me, whether they be gentiles or Christians, they should be forgiven. Help him to understand, with some moderate punishment, that he is being pardoned in accordance with our law, which orders us to forgive offenses and to prepare him, not for his death, but for eternal life.” When the military authorities eventually captured some of the leaders of the San Diego revolt, Serra pleaded that they not be killed or exiled but treated leniently.

Serra deeply believed that missions would assist California Indians. Like many other missionaries, his reading of the history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas had convinced him that Spanish soldiers and settlers would inevitably oppress the native peoples of the continent and, if given the chance, work them to death in the silver mines or on the haciendas. Serra deeply believed that the benevolent paternalism the missions offered was far preferable.

Native peoples entered the California missions for a variety of reasons. Some were no doubt genuinely interested in Catholicism. Others presented sick children for baptism in the hopes that the priest might cure them. But many entered because they were experiencing an ecological crisis. The Spanish incursion into California involved the introduction of large numbers of livestock, such as cattle, sheep, and goats. These animals, as they grazed widely over various areas, inevitably devoured or destroyed the plants—including vegetables and, especially, acorns—on which the Indians had lived for centuries. After the Spanish had been in an area for a very short time, the maintenance of traditional folkways and traditional forms of nourishment proved impossible. Whatever else the missions were for native people, they were places where food could be obtained. The missions involved separating the Indians from other Spaniards, and that separation inescapably involved coercion. In Catholic theology, baptism is a lifetime commitment. In the same vein, the decision to enter the mission on the part of an Indian was regarded by the Spanish as a decision to reside there permanently. It is clear that many people who were baptized at the missions during the early years either never understood this or never had it sufficiently explained to them.

When these people wished to visit their relatives in their native villages, the missionaries would often give them permission to do so, but only for a limited time. If people did not return within that time frame, the missionaries would ask soldiers to go out and forcibly seize them and bring them back. If they were caught and returned, the punishment was flogging. Serra once sent a group of Indians who had left the mission at Carmel without permission to the Monterey Presidio for punishment. He recommended “two or three rounds of whipping.” Since this punishment was designed to deter future unauthorized absences from the missions, the punishment was meant to be painful. And it was. Flogging was the standard punishment in the Spanish army and in frontier areas controlled by the army. But it is jarring to read those requests in Serra’s own words.

It is fair to say that 99 percent of the people in Europe at the time believed that Native Americans were inferior to Europeans. Junípero Serra believed that native peoples were in a state of “natural infancy.” If children misbehaved, they should be punished so that they would learn not to do it again. Serra and the mission system were frankly paternalistic. He genuinely believed that he was a father to the Indians. He also believed, as he had preached in 1744, that part of the duty of being a father was to be strict at times. And he embraced his duty. In words that are especially difficult to read, he once told the military commander that if he did “not have shackles on hand [at the presidio], if you would let us know, they can be sent from here.”

One of the more notorious aspects of the mission system was also initiated during Serra’s presidency: the practice of separating unmarried girls and younger women from the rest of the mission population and putting them in monjerío, or nunnery. The reason was to protect them from sexual violence on the part of the soldiers, which definitely did exist. However, the rooms were usually crowded and poorly ventilated. Being forced to stay in them took its toll on girls’ and women’s health. Indeed, the missions themselves were not healthy places for native peoples. By the first decade of the 19th century, the death rate exceeded the birth rate at most missions. Serra’s reaction to the death of native peoples, especially children, was religious, like so much else in his experience. He wrote of the souls of these babies taking flight and being admitted into heaven. Again, this is very hard to read in the 21st century.

THE LAST MISSION

Junípero Serra Receives the Viaticum (1785) by Mariano Guerrero. Serra received Holy Communion shortly before his death in Carmel.

After the San Diego uprising, military authorities in California thwarted Serra’s attempts to found additional missions. Two previously approved missions—San Francisco and Santa Clara—were allowed to be started. San Juan Capistrano, which had been abandoned after the destruction of San Diego, was allowed to be refounded. But that was all. Serra, who had presided over the founding of eight missions during his first eight years in Alta California, was not allowed to start any additional ones. He found this deeply frustrating, especially since he was anxious to initiate a series of missions among the Chumash people along the Santa Bárbara Channel. Instead, he found himself embroiled in a series of controversies with the governor, Felipe de Neve. Much against Serra’s wishes, Neve initiated two pueblos, or civil settlements: San José and Los Angeles. Serra believed that the presence of additional settlers in these pueblos would inevitably weaken the influence of the missionaries in California. Indeed, this was Neve’s precise intention. Serra also struggled with the governor over Neve’s insistence that mission Indians be allowed to elect their own officials, since this would diminish the authority of the priests at the mission communities. Serra received a modicum of satisfaction when he was finally allowed to establish a mission at San Buenaventura in 1782. He journeyed there for the founding. But his mood soured when Neve refused to allow the establishment of an additional mission at Santa Bárbara.

By this time Serra was in his late 60s, and his health was beginning to fail. He undertook a series of arduous journeys to administer the sacrament of confirmation to Indians up and down the mission chain. As difficult as these trips were, they offered Serra the opportunity of personally encountering the overwhelming majority of baptized Indians in California. Those meetings gave him a great deal of satisfaction, and he continued to hope that the successes he thought he had achieved at Carmel in the mid-1770s would become prevalent in all the California missions. During Serra’s time in California, approximately 6,000 Indians were baptized.

During the third week of August 1784, the missionaries at Carmel sent an urgent message to Francisco Palóu, Serra’s closest friend, who was at Mission Dolores in San Francisco. They told him to hurry to Carmel, since Serra was near death. Palóu arrived in time to offer his weakened friend a final Holy Communion, called the Viaticum in Catholic teaching. On Aug. 28, after entertaining two old friends who had stopped by Carmel after a voyage to Peru, Serra said that he was tired and wished to rest. He went to his room. An hour later Palóu entered the room and found Serra’s lifeless body. That night Serra lay in state in the mission he had founded 14 years earlier. Many Indians and soldiers came to pay their respects and to pray. Serra’s funeral Mass was celebrated the following day, and he was buried in the church itself. When the present stone church was completed at the end of the 18th century, Serra’s body was interred on the gospel side of the sanctuary. Visitors can still see the grave today.

When people gaze at the grave of Junípero Serra—canonized as a saint on Sept. 23, 2015—what will they see? We hope that it’s a man of complexity and not simply a cardboard figure—either a faultless hero or an unreconstructed villain. Like all major historical figures, Junípero Serra will continue to be reinterpreted and reevaluated. A fuller comprehension of Junípero Serra, a complicated man living in a challenging time, can help us attain a more complete understanding of the issues we face in trying to create a vibrant, just, and tolerant multicultural America.

ROBERT SENKEWICZ AND ROSE MARIE BEEBE ’76 are the authors of Junípero Serra: California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary (University of Oklahoma, 2015). Senkewicz is a professor of history, and Beebe is a professor of Spanish, at SCU. Their collaborative scholarship includes Testimonios: Early California Through the Eyes of Women, 1815–1848, and Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535–1846. In 2015 they were recognized with the University Award for Sustained Excellence in Scholarship.

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