Research at the Archive
The Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library would like to thank the Academy of American Franciscan History and the California Missions Foundation for their generous support of our efforts to conserve the Junípero Serra Collection and the California Mission Documents Collection through digitization.
Mission Document Collections
The Finding Guides for these major collections are descriptive accounts of the official archive of the Franciscan Friars and the California missions.
This archive had its inception during the months when Joseph de Gálvez and Fray Junípero Serra planned the exploration of Alta California in 1768. The original archive remained in Serra's hands until his death in 1784. It was passed on to succeeding Presidentes of the mission system. As friars elsewhere confronted mission secularization and confiscation in the 19th century, they sent their missions' historical documents and materials to Mission Santa Bárbara, which has remained in the hands of the Franciscans from its founding in 1786 until the present day.
For purposes of utility and interest the Mission Document Collections are grouped as follows: The Junípero Serra Collection, 1713 to 1948; the California Mission Documents, 1640 to 1853; and the Apostolic College (Our Lady of Sorrows) Collection, 1853 to 1885.
The materials should be considered original manuscripts in Spanish, unless noted otherwise. These finding guides are the lifelong work and creation of historian and archivist, Fr. Maynard Geiger, O.F.M., Ph.D.
Click on a guide to view the collection's finding guide.
Mission Reports, Inventories, and Accounts
The following collections represent the official documents and records that the missionaries compiled to report on the goings-on at the missions. They include information on the numbers of sacraments performed, the number of livestock and crops produced, the number of Native and non-Native Peoples present, as well as other information.
Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library’s diary collection primarily consists of the diaries of Franciscan Friars at the Alta California missions during the 18th and 19th centuries.