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Transcription of Father Sigismundo Taraval Journal recounting Indian uprisings in Baja California of 1734-1737, prepared by Charles F. Lummis.

Identifier: MS-854

Scope and contents

This is the carbon of the copy Charles F. Lummis had made for the Los Angeles Public Library during his time as City Librarian. Lummis made the transcription from the original journal which he borrowed from Edward E. Ayer and is now housed in the Ayer Collection of Western Americana in the Newberry Library, Chicago. The original is missing the first four pages and several pages at the end of the document.

The journal begins in July of 1734 and describes how a San Joseph mission in Baja is reported to have been "sacked". A soldier stationed at that mission was murdered; Fathers Lorenzo and Nicolás Tamaral were also murdered. Father Taraval, along with three guards, and 50 of the loyal Callejues Indians, crossed through enemy territory to the port at La Paz where they traveled by boat to the Island of Espíritu Santo. A series of brutal attacks on the missions of Baja continued through 1737 when the rebel leaders were ultimately captured and sent to Loreto and then banished to Mexico.

Wilbur notes that the Taraval Journal was historically misattributed to Father William Gordon, a Scottish Jesuit who was stationed at La Paz in the same period as Taraval. The journal was therefore previously known as the Gordon Journal. However, Wilbur asserts that “internal evidence” and handwriting analysis prove Taraval’s authorship indubitably

The transcription’s pages are numbered (1) 4 through (324, 325) 302. The number in parenthesis refers to the original manuscript’s numbering. The second non-parenthetical number refers to the transcriber’s numbering system. I.e.: (324, 325) indicates that two manuscript pages have been included on page 302 of the transcript.

Corrections in pencil and red ink appear throughout the manuscript in Charles F. Lummis’ handwriting. It is assumed that the typing of the transcription was most likely done by Lummis’ second wife, Eve Lummis.


  • circa 1909



The majority of this transcription is in Spanish with some Latin. Notes and corrections are in Spanish and English.


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Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Autry Museum of the American West. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Research Services and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Autry Museum of the American West as the custodian of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Biographical history

The Jesuits were active in Baja, California from 1697 through 1768, a period of 71 years. Taraval’s account was written beginning in 1734 and continued through 1737. In this period Jesuit activity in Baja is described in three phases, the second, which ranged from 1730-1740, is referred to as “the age of storm and stress” (Wilbur, 1931, page 18), and was marked by Indian attacks, plundering, raids, and rebellions. This period is the one in which the Taraval journal was written and it records these events by Father Sigismundo Taraval as an eyewitness describing them first hand.

Taraval was a Milanese Jesuit of Spanish ancestry. His record describes many conflicts occurring with the native Baja population over attempts to convert them to Catholicism. In particular, there were clashes about the long-held practice of polygamy and the strong influence of the medicine man whom the Fathers believed was “the Devil in disguise” (Wilbur, 1931, p. 11).

Reference: Wilbur, M. E. (1931). The Indian uprising in lower California 1734-1737 as described by Father Sigismundo Taraval. Los Angeles, CA: The Quivera Society.


1 folder (302 typed carbon copied pages)


A transciption of the journal of Father Sigismundo Taraval, a Milanese Jesuit of Spanish ancestry, who recounts his first hand experiences of clashes with the indigenous people of Baja California. Taraval’s account was written beginning in 1734 and continued through 1737. The transcription was created circa 1909 and included editorial notes from Charles Lummis.

Custodial history

This transcription was created by Lummis while he was City Librarian for the Los Angeles Public Library. It was most likely part of the Charles Fletcher Lummis Papers and Library he bequethed to the Southwest Museum in 1910 February 28.


Bequest from Charles Fletcher Lummis to the Southwest Museum, 1910 February 28.

Related archival material

Charles Fletcher Lummis Papers, 1888-1928, Braun Research Library Collection, Autry Museum of the American West, Los Angeles; MS.1, MS.1.1.158A, Ayer, Edward E. 1902-1925.

Publication note

A translation of the Taraval Journal was written by Marguerite Eyer Wilbur and published by the Quivera Society in 1931. Braun Research Library call # 972.2 T72i, 1931.

Wilbur’s translation is complete and the volume also includes a timeline of events, an index, and footnotes thoroughly explaining Taraval’s account.

Existance and location of orginals

Taraval's original handwritten manuscript is held at the Newberry Library in Chicago as part of the Ayer collection. Call # VAULT Ayer MS 1240.

Processing history

Processing of collection and publication of finding aid made possible by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).


Finding aid to the Father Sigismundo Taraval journal transcription by Charles F. Lummis, circa 1909
Maritxu De Alaiza
November 7, 2011
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Repository Details

Part of the Library and Archives at the Autry Repository

210 South Victory Blvd.
Burbank CA 91502 USA US