Between 1769 and 1823, Franciscan missionaries founded 21 missions throughout what was known as Alta or “Upper” California. On this map of the California missions, you can click on the markers to find the foundation date and founder of each mission. Zoom out to see all of the missions, zoom in to see their locations up close or use the mouse to move up and down the map. We will be continually updating the map with more information, so check back often.
Junípero Serra was a Spanish Franciscan friar who established the a series of missions among the native peoples of what is today California. He is considered by many to be the founding father of California and is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Junípero Serra was born Miguel José Serra and baptized on November 24, 1713, in the town of Petra on the island of Mallorca, Spain. Though small for his age and somewhat sickly, as a boy he was filled with grand aspirations. The young José had developed an interest in reading the lives of the saints, fascinated in particular by the descriptions of St Francis of Assisi.
There is a great deal of information about the mission era on the Internet. Not all of it is reliable or well-researched. Below are some resources which I personally believe provide solid and useful information related to the California missions, Junipero Serra and related topics. I will continue to update this page, so check back often!
- The California Missions Foundation. The California Missions Foundation is dedicated to preserving and restoring the California Missions. The organization recently merged with the California Mission Studies Association (CMSA), whose focus is on supporting scholarship on things directly or indirectly related to the California missions. I’ve been a member of CMSA/CMF for many years now and love participating in their annual conferences.
- Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. On the eve of the American Revolution Spanish Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza made an epic overland journey from New Spain to Alta California with 240 families. Their footsteps are marked by the Anza Historic Trail, which extends from Northern Mexico, through Arizona into Northern California. Their website is a great resource for learning about the Spanish exploration and colonization of California. You can also access and download their quarterly publication, Noticias de Anza.
- The Santa Bárbara Mission Archive- Library. The Santa Bárbara Mission Archive- Library is committed to collecting and conserving historical material for the study of Franciscan Missions and Native Peoples of the Americas. The SBMAL acquires, maintains and preserves books, maps, photographs, and documents, and other sources relating to the history of the California missions, Franciscan history, and the history of native peoples in the Southwest, up to roughly 1846. The Archive-Library organizes and participates in educational, professional and community events which support its mission, and that help increase the knowledge of the California missions, their past, and the heritage of California and the Americas.
- The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. The SBTHP does a wonderful job of making history come alive by caring for historic sites all over Santa Barbara County, including the Santa Barbara Presidio, right in downtown Santa Barbara. They are also a great resource for books and other materials related to the California mission frontier. They also publish a fascinating quarterly journal for members, La Campana.
- St. Francis & the Americas (University of Arizona). Saint Francis is a recognized figure throughout the world, and the Hispanic world has a special affiliation with him. This website explores his influence today and throughout history, especially among Hispanics. SFA is cooperative and based on voluntarism.
- The 14th Colony. This website grew out of a summer seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. On it you can find well-researched information about a broad range of topics related to the California mission era. Some of today’s most most knowledgable scholars contributed their expertise to this project.
- The California Missions Resource Center. The CMRC provides a ton of easy to access information about the California mission era, including maps, timelines and images. One of the main features of the site is an online store where you can purchase books and other educational products.
- TeachingHistory.org. A clearinghouse for materials for teaching students of all ages about history, developed by George Mason University in Washington D.C.. The site is divided according to age group and theme.
Do you have any helpful resources to suggest? Let us know!