Spanish and Mexican California is generally depicted through the journals of sea captains and other visitors. This groundbreaking collection offers another perspective: early California seen through the eyes of those who explored it, colonized it, and settled it in the age before the gold rush. Over sixty selections from letters, journals, official reports and proclamations, interrogations, and interviews—many newly translated and some presented in English for the first time—lay before us a surprisingly varied and dynamic portrait of an era generally dismissed as static, pastoral, or backward.
The first-person accounts are tied together with extensive introductions and commentaries by two well-known scholars. Together the selections and commentaries give us an intimate portrait as well as a broad context, placing the exploration and settlement of Alta California within the history of Baja California and the conquest of the New World.
Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz teach Spanish and history, respectively, at Santa Clara University. Together they are the authors of Lands of Promise and Despair: Chronicles of Early California, 1535-1846 and the editors of Guide to Manuscripts Concerning Baja California in the Collections of the Bancroft Library. They translated and edited The History of Alta California by Antonio María Osio, and they are also co-editors of Boletín: The Journal of the California Mission Studies Association. Rose Marie is the president of the California Mission Studies Association.