Re-Introducing Edwin Deakin

In 2014, the Archive-Library began a conservation project to restore the series of mission paintings by Edwin Deakin. Two years later, the 19thcentury paintings have been completed!  On the night of September 24th at 6:30 pm in the Bonaventure Hall at Old Mission Santa Barbara, SBMAL will be hosting a lecture given by Frank Goss on Edwin Deakin. A reception and viewing of the newly restored paintings will follow.  We hope that you will be able join us for this unveiling!

In the meantime, watch this video that Scott Haskins and the team from Fine Arts Conservation Laboratories put together to learn more about the conservation process!

Thank you again to all of our sponsors! Without their support, this project would not be possible! For more information about the history of the Deakin paintings and how they came to the Archive-Library, you can go to these previous blog posts:

{Deakin Conservation}

Seating in the Hall is limited so to guarantee a seat RSVP to or (805) 682-4713 ext. 152

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Our Trip to …A Becoming Place

By Rachel Hatcher

Assistant Archivist, Province of Saint Barbara

Monica and Rachel outside the new Provincial Archive in Albuquerque, NM.

Monica and Rachel outside the new Provincial Archive in Albuquerque, NM.

“Wherever I find our Lord’s most holy names and written words in unbecoming places, I want to gather them up and I beg that they be gathered up and placed in a becoming place.” -St. Francis of Assisi, Testament

On the evening of Saturday, March 19, 2016, Monica Orozco (Director of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library) and I were treated to hearing these words of St. Francis spoken in four different languages from the north, south, east, and west corners of the conference space at “. . . A Becoming Place,” the brand new Provincial Archive and Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Four friars of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Province stood around those gathered at the dedication of the new archive and recited in Latin, Spanish, Navajo, and English the verse that inspired the name of the new center.

When we arrived on Friday, Monica and I were able to tour around the new archive with Provincial Archivist Cathy Pierce, OFS; Minister Provincial Fr. Jack Clark Robinson, OFM; and members of the Board of the Academy of American Franciscan History. With state of the art compact shelving, a colorful reading room, and framed photographs that pay tribute to past archivists of the Guadalupe Province, the new archive is a beautiful home for the treasures in their collection.

Keynote speaker David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

Keynote speaker David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

The Inaugural Symposium began Friday night with David Hurst Thomas, PhD, Curator of the Division of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History, who gave a talk on his work on Franciscan Missions sites of the Southeast and Southwest and the connection with the Franciscan Order in the United States. Archaeology, he posited, provides researchers with another type of “archive.” Saturday’s symposium featured a variety of presentations from archivists and scholars. Monica and I each presented talks on the collections housed within the Provincial Archive of the Province of Saint Barbara and the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. During the course of the day there was time for reflection, questions, and responses that gave the Symposium a comfortable, relaxed, yet scholarly feel. We were able to chat about issues such as the nature of working with artifacts related to native peoples and the difficulties in digitization. It was encouraging for me to hear stories from friars and lay staff about the ways they solved problems or collaborated together in their work.

After an energetic Palm Sunday celebration of the Eucharist and a feast with everyone in attendance, the weekend came to a close. The hospitality of the friars, festive dedication ceremony, and the new Provincial Archive have left Monica and me dreaming of taking a trip back to Albuquerque in the near future.

(Editor’s Note: Rachel Hatcher has served as Assistant Provincial Archivist for the Province of Saint Barbara since May 2014)

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Meet Our New Geiger Intern!


Geiger Intern Adela Contreras

Editor’s note:  Each year since 2012 we offer a paid summer internship to honor Fr. Maynard Geiger, OFM. The purpose of this internship is to support an opportunity for an undergraduate or graduate student to gain experience working in an archive. The internship is open to students considering further studies or career in public history, art history, library and information technology, archive management, or museum studies. We are very happy to announce that this year’s Geiger intern is Adela Contreras, an incoming graduate student in the History Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Please continue reading to learn more about Adela and the work she is undertaking during her internship.  And if you are interested in more information about this internship please visit .

Hello, I am Adela Contreras, a California native from Los Angeles.

I am entering the doctoral program in United States history at UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) in the fall of 2015. I am very excited to be serving as the 2015 Geiger Summer Intern at SBMAL.

I first became engaged with archival work in 2012 while a student at Pasadena City College (PCC). There, I worked on an independent project surveying the collection at the San Gabriel History Museum.

I accepted admission as an undergraduate transfer student at UCSB in 2013. A current graduate student in the history department at UCSB informed me of the Geiger Summer Internship that year. I applied for the 2013 internship and although I was not selected I received positive and constructive feedback from the director, Monica Orozco, which was very helpful to my successful application this summer.

This summer I am working on the Franciscan Father Bonaventure Oblasser collection representing over 50 years of Franciscan missionary work in Arizona. Specifically, I am helping the archive construct a useful reference of the collection’s immense photograph and postcard collection. The overwhelming majority of the photographs are undated, the subjects unidentified, and the photographs are not in sequential order. In order to give context to the photographs I reference documents in the Oblasser papers including correspondence, mission records, and school records. I am also conducting ongoing research on indigenous people of the southwest and I am working on a historiographical study of Father Oblasser.

The photographs and postcards roughly cover the last decade of the nineteenth century through the mid twentieth century. The subjects of the photographs primarily include indigenous people; everyday desert life, plants and wildlife, mission life, travel photos, and pets. As a history student, I am drawn not only to the subjects of the photographs but to the clues they give me about the interests of the photographer as they indicate what was considered significant to document.

I have many “favorite” themes but one that comes to mind after I’ve left the archive for the day is a collection of poems printed on postcards. The poems are written from the points of view of indigenous people and frontiersmen. Their expressions of the west communicate sorrow; woe, fear, romance, adventure, beauty, excitement, and conflict. So many universal human emotions and experiences are communicated in this collection of poems, inspired by a contested geographical space.

Father Oblasser is recognized in scholarship for his missionary work with the Tohono O’odham. However, his photographic collection extends well beyond the Sonoran desert and mission life. The images are mesmerizing, engaging windows to the past and significant to the study of the Southwest.

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The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco

Barb VossThe Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) is pleased to present The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis: Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco, a lecture by Dr. Barbara L. Voss (Stanford University), Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Presidio Chapel (123 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara). The event is co-sponsored by UCSB Departments of History and Anthropology, USCB Public History Program, and Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library.


Dr. Barbara L. Voss’ innovative work of historical archaeology illuminates the genesis of the Californios, a community of military settlers who forged a new identity on the northwest edge of Spanish North America. Since 1993, Dr. Voss has conducted archaeological excavations at the Presidio of San Francisco, founded by Spain during its colonization of California’s central coast. Her research at the Presidio forms the basis for this rich study of cultural identity formation, or ethnogenesis, among the diverse peoples who came from widespread colonized populations to serve at the Presidio. Through a close investigation of the landscape, architecture, ceramics, clothing, and other aspects of material culture, she traces shifting contours of race and sexuality in colonial California.


Dr. Barbara L. Voss is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. She is a historical archaeologist who studies the dynamics and outcomes of transnational cultural encounters in the Americas, especially those related to colonialism and immigration. Voss’ work also forges new dialogues between queer studies and archaeology. Her research is guided by a deep commitment to public archaeology and community collaboration. Her books Archaeologies of Sexuality (co-edited with Robert A. Schmidt) and The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis were each awarded the Ruth Benedict Prize by the American Anthropological Association.


The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis:  Race and Sexuality in Colonial San Francisco

Lecture by Barbara L. Voss, Ph.D.

Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: Presidio Chapel, 123 East Canon Perdido Street, Santa Barbara
Cost: Free for SBTHP members, SBMAL members, and UCSB students with valid student ID

Non-members $5

For more information:  Visit or call (805) 965-0093


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“Island of the Blue Dolphins Revisited: A Search for the True Story”

Steve Schwartz Please join the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library and Old Mission Santa Barbara on Sunday May 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm for the presentation, Island of the Blue Dolphins Revisited: A Search for the True Story” from Steven Schwartz.

Recently retired, Steven Schwartz was the Navy’s senior archaeologist on San Nicolas for the past 25 years.  Due to this unique position, he has become one of the leading experts on the Lone Woman story, the true story behind Island of the Blue Dolphins.

During his time with the Navy, Steve oversaw the excavation of dozens of archaeological sites spanning several thousand years of island occupation.  He also has a keen interest in the history of the island and has conducted studies of the various historic themes from sheep ranching through the Cold War. He continues to research the story of the Lone Woman and publish his findings.

Steve’s talk will recap what is known of the true story behind the beloved children’s novel ‘Island of the Blue Dolphins’, and will present the latest archival and archaeological findings. Much new information has come to light in the last few years; recently discovered Russian documents add to our understanding of the circumstances of Lone Woman’s abandonment, the tragic start of the story; on-going archival research into church and census records document the history of the rest of the tribe’s removed in 1835; and new historical research adds to our understanding of her life in Santa Barbara, the tragic end of the story. Also highlighted are exciting new archaeological finds that add details about her isolated life on the island: the search to find the cave where she lived, and the amazing discovery of a cache of artifacts that show how she lived and survived.

Steve has walked where she walked, is one of the leading experts on the story, and has many insights from his 25 years of experience on the island.

Sunday May 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm, Bonaventure Hall, Old Mission Santa Barbara, 2201 Laguna Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Admission is $10.00 for members of SBMAL, OMSB docents, and students with valid ID. Admission is $15.00 for non-members.  All proceeds from this event will benefit the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library (Tax ID: 95-6220730) and Old Mission Santa Barbara.

For more information or to RSVP call (805) 682-4713 ext 152 or email Reservations can also be made by completing this Reservation Form and sending it in with payment.

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Happening soon at SBMAL!

Join us on Saturday April 11, 2015 for a presentation from Rose Marie Beebe and Robert M. Senkewicz, authors of Junípero Serra, California, Indians, and the Transformation of a Missionary. The talk begins at 10:30 am but we will serve refreshments beginning at 10:00 am. Books will be available for purchase. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Admission is free for members and Santa Barbara Mission docents. Reservations are required. RSVP by emailing or by phoning (805) 682-4713 ext 124.


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Save the Date!

Serra bookThe University of Oklahoma Press is releasing soon a new book on Fray Junípero Serra by Robert M. Senkewicz and Rose Marie Beebe and SBMAL will be hosting the authors on Saturday April 11, 2015 for a talk and book signing event.  Stay tuned for more details!

Robert Senkewicz, a Professor of History, and Rose Marie Beebe a Professor of Spanish Literature, “interpret Junípero Serra neither as a saint nor as the personification of the Black Legend. They recount his life from his birth in a small farming village on Mallorca. They detail his experiences in central Mexico and Baja California, as well as the tumultuous fifteen years he spent as founder of the California missions. Serra’s Franciscan ideals are analyzed in their eighteenth century context, which allows readers to understand more fully the differences and similarities between his world and ours. Combining history, culture, and linguistics, this new study conveys the power and nuance of Serra’s voice and, ultimately, his impact on history.”

Follow the link below for more information from the publishers.


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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

AniphonalChristmasCardWebAnd wishing everyone one all the best in the New Year!

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Deakin Conservation Project: Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad in the Spotlight

Painting in regenerated frame. Photo by Virginia and Robert Guess. Cannot be reproduced without permission.

Painting in regenerated frame. Photo by Virginia and Robert Guess. Cannot be reproduced without permission.

By Virginia and Robert Guess

Edwin Deakin (1838-1923) developed his artistic talents in depicting landscape and architecture scenes before he set out to paint the twenty-one Missions of Alta California. He completed three series in the late 1800s, two in oil and one in watercolor. In each painting, Deakin documented the structures remaining at the Mission by the end of the nineteenth century, and captured the landscape to reflect the mood of the time.

In 1955, one of the two series in oil was donated to the Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara with the proviso the paintings remain on view at Old Mission Santa Barbara and that the set never be broken. In 2014, Dr. Monica Orozco, Director of Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library, initiated a conservation fund to preserve these paintings on display at the Archive-Library by seeking donors to sponsor a painting of their choice.

We chose to sponsor Deakin’s painting of Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad as he portrayed it in its ruined and abandoned state. This window into the past reminded us of the hardships of early mission life and of those who participated in the colonization of Alta California.

Mission Soledad endured numerous disasters. The original church built at the perimeter of a quadrangle was damaged three times by flooding of the Salinas River before being abandoned. In 1828, religious services were transferred to a small chapel at the opposite end of the quadrangle that was utilized until 1834 when the Mission was finally closed. In his painting, Deakin captured the ruins of this chapel and the adjacent convento. He most likely depended on earlier images and other artists’ renditions, using the remaining adobe walls of the Mission chapel as inspiration for his work.

With sponsorship came the opportunity to observe the conservation process, as well as to view the verso or back of the painting where Deakin added information to personalize his work. Fortunately, the painting had no cracking on the painted surface, and required only meticulous cleaning to reveal the original colors.

At Fine Art Conservation Lab ( in Santa Barbara, owned by Scott M. Haskins, a team of expert conservators used up-to-date technology and materials to stabilize the painting. Conservation involved cleaning the surface of grey matter, mainly the soot and grime collected over the years and the old varnish yellowed through aging. After careful cleaning, the conservators applied new varnish using a product that will not yellow over time. Once stabilized, the painting was returned to its original frame that had been strengthened and the paint regenerated. The removal of dust layers and addition of a protective coating restored luster to the wooden frame. Conservation is expected to last for generations given the proper conditions of controlled lighting and minimal exposure to atmospheric pollutants that Mission Santa Bárbara Archive-Library provides.

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On the verso of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Deakin signed his name, the date the Mission was established, “October 9, 1791,” and those Franciscan friars present at the founding: ”Lasuen” (Fray Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, Presidente of the Alta California Missions from 1786 to 1803); “Sitjar” (Fray Buenaventura Sitjar who was assigned to nearby Mission San Antonio de Padua at the time); and “Garcia” (Fray Diego García who directed Mission Soledad until 1797). The latter Franciscan friar is not to be confused with the first bishop of the California missions, Bishop Francisco García Diego y Moreno (1785-1846).

In addition, Deakin included on the verso what is purported to be a Deakin “coat of arms” above his signature. Little is known about this heraldic symbol other than some art historians suggest that Deakin, born in England in 1838, had a penchant for English aristocracy and invented his own “coat of arms” or “family crest” that he often drew on the back of many of his paintings.

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Today, Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad appears quite different from his painting. In 1955, restoration of the chapel was completed under the auspices of the Native Daughters of the Golden West using only one front corner of the adobe wall seen in Deakin’s painting. The attached convento, reconstructed in 1963, now serves as a museum. Only a few foundation stones and floor tiles remain at the site of the original church. Although Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is one of the more remote and least visited of the California Missions, it represents the difficulties the Franciscan friars faced in establishing mission communities, and then their rapid deterioration following secularization.

[Editor’s note: Fine Arts Conservation Laboratories has generously offered free access to their e-book, Save Your Stuff: Collection Care Tips. The e-book is available at ]

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A Birthday Celebration

A 17th century reliquary of St. Barbara donated by Harry Downie.

A 17th century reliquary of St. Barbara donated by Harry Downie.

By Monica Orozcco

We recently celebrated not one, but two, important birthdays. December 4, 2014, the Feast Day of St. Barbara, marked the 228th anniversary of the founding of Old Mission Santa Barbara. It also marked the launch of a year’s commemoration leading up to the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Province of St. Barbara.

Approximately 75 guests shared this occasion with us by attending the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library’s open house. We had on exhibit items from our vault that symbolized important founding moments or transitions in Franciscan Mission history and early California history.

On display were two sacramental registers and three documents that helped tell the story of the founding of Mission Santa Bárbara. One register from April 21, 1782 and prepared by Fr. Junípero Serra, allowed patrons to see evidence of the change in plans which postponed the founding of the Mission until after Serra’s death. The second register prepared by Fr. Fermín Lasuén marked the establishment of Mission Santa Bárbara on the Feast Day of St. Barbara in 1786.

This celebration gave us an opportunity to exhibit items rarely on display such as the Papal Bulls isssued in 1840 by Pope Gregory XVI establishing the Diocese of California and appointing Francisco García Diego y Moreno as the first Bishop of California.

Also on display were two painting by James Madison Alden who served on a US Survey ship in the 1850s as well as a map of California from 1848 used in the California Constitutional Convention of 1849.

Guests were also given special access to the Mission museum and its new exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the Province of St. Barbara. Former SBMAL intern and new Assistant Archivist for the Provincial Archives, Rachel Hatcher, and SBMAL intern Brittany Bratcher worked together to prepare this exhibit, “A Franciscan Legacy in the West.” They also had assistance from SBMAL volunteer Jenna Jordan during installation.

Among the Franciscan Friars in attendance were Fr. Kenan Osborne, Brother Brian Trawick, Fr. Richard McManus, Old Mission Santa Barbara Guardian Brother Angelo Cardinall, and St. Barbara Parish Pastor Fr. Charles Talley. Many friends were also present including Marc and Pauline Sylvain, Mary Louise Days, Prof. Heather Keaney of Westmont College, and UCSB professor of History and Anthropology James Brooks, the newest member of the Santa Bárbara Mission Archive-Library Board of Trustees. But we also enjoyed meeting many new friends, some who had never visited the Mission before! Guests were guided through all the activities by SBMAL volunteers and Old Mission Santa Bárbara Docents.

Many thanks to all who came out to this and all our events this year! We are looking forward to many more exciting events to share with all of you next year!

Be sure to visit our Facebook page, visit our website, or sign up for our electronic newsletter by emailing, to be updated about our future events.

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