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Register of the Peveril Meigs. Baja California Research Materials
MSS 0530  
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Peveril Meigs. Baja California Research Materials,
    Date (inclusive): 1925-1979
    Collection number: MSS 0530
    Creator: Meigs, Peveril, 1903-1979
    Extent: 12.40 linear feet (5 archives boxes and 8 oversized folders)
    Repository: Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD
    La Jolla, CA 92093-0175
    Abstract: Research materials related to the Baja California studies of geographer Peveril Meigs, III. Meigs conducted field research in northern Baja California, Mexico, between 1925 and 1936 observing geology, climate, indigenous populations, mission sites, and local culture in preparation for his 1932 doctoral dissertation entitled "The Dominican Missions of Lower California" and his ethnographic monograph entitled THE KILIWA INDIANS OF LOWER CALIFORNIA (1939). The collection contains journals with daily observations of people, the natural environment and historical sites; photograph albums with black-and-white images described in his journals; and hand drawn maps, particularly of the area around Arroyo Leon. Also included are notes and typescripts on his fieldwork and published sources on Baja California and Dominican mission history; published maps; annotated publications; and correspondence with his dissertation advisor, Dr. Carl Sauer, and other notable scholars including ethnographer A.L. Kroeber, geographer Homer Aschmann, and historian Peter Gerhard. Of interest is Meigs's translation, from Spanish into English, of Dominican padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas." Also included are notes and data compiled in the 1950s on Baja California's climate history and several papers by Meigs on peninsular Indian culture written in the 1970s. The collection does not contain material related to Meigs's research on other arid deserts or tide mills. The research materials are arranged in eight series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY MEIGS, 3) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 4) JOURNALS, 5) PHOTOGRAPHS, 6) MAPS, 7) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 8) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Fragile journals in box 2, folder 11-15 and box 3, folder 1-10 are restricted. Patrons must use preservation photocopies.

    Preferred Citation

    Peveril Meigs. Baja California Research Materials, MSS 0530. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.


    Peveril Meigs, III was born in Flushing, New York, on May 5, 1903. His family moved to Santa Barbara, California, and Meigs later attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he received an A.B. (1925) and a Ph.D (1932) in geography. As an undergraduate studying with Dr. Carl Sauer, Meigs became interested in Baja California and planned his first trip to the peninsula in the summer of 1925, accompanied by fellow graduate student C. Warren Thornthwaite.
    On his first trip, Meigs and Thornthwaite travelled as far south as San Fernando de Velicata and visited David Goldbaum in Ensenada, the Johnson Ranch in San Antonio del Mar, the Hamilton Ranch, the flour mill and saltworks at San Quintin, the Meling Ranch, and the mining center of Real Del Castillo. They also made a long stay in the town of El Rosario, a brief tour of Mexicali and visited the Dominican mission sites of San Fernando, El Rosario, Santo Domingo, and San Pedro Martir.
    Meigs returned to Berkeley as a graduate student in the fall of 1925, presented his photographs to a seminar in geography and stimulated interest in the peninsula among graduate students and faculty, including Dr. Oscar Schmieder, who went on to study the Russian colony in the Guadalupe Valley. In the summer of 1926, Dr. Sauer, Meigs, and graduate students Sam Dicken and Fred Kniffen embarked upon a second trip that retraced many of the destinations of the first and concentrated on Dominican mission sites. Sauer and Meigs returned and published "Site and Culture at San Fernando de Velicata," the first installment in a Baja California series published by the University of California Press. Sauer served as Meigs's advisor as he continued his graduate studies and began work on his dissertation.
    Meigs returned to Baja California each summer for the next three years, focusing on the history and geography of the Dominican missions and the native populations surrounding them. In 1927, Meigs was accompanied by Horace Byers, a Berkeley undergraduate interested in making meteorological observations. In 1928, Meigs, under the direction of Dr. A.L. Kroeber and accompanied by his wife Yvonne, spent several weeks living with and studying the Kiliwa Indians in Valle Trinidad. He was joined by his brother Stewart on a similar trip in 1929.
    Meigs returned to the peninsula to complete his studies of the Kiliwa Indians in 1936. The results of these studies were published in 1939 as "The Kiliwa Indians of Lower California."
    Following several teaching apppointments in California and Louisiana, Meigs served as a geographer with the Office of Strategic Services (1942-1945) and the Arctic Institute of North America (1948-1949). While he spent most of his professional career studying the physical geography of arid and arctic zones, Meigs returned to his Baja California studies in the 1970s, publishing several articles in PACIFIC COAST ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY that reexamined his earlier field work.
    Peveril Meigs died September 16, 1979, in Wayland, Massachusetts.


    The research materials related to the Baja California studies of geographer Peveril Meigs, III (1903-1979), contain correspondence with colleagues and Baja California specialists; manuscripts fragments and notes on field observations and bibliographic sources; typescripts of articles; trip journals with observations on Baja California culture, archaeology and natural history; manuscript and printed maps, photograph albums documenting field trips, lantern slides, and annotated publications. The collection is arranged in eight series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY MEIGS, 3) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 4) JOURNALS, 5) PHOTOGRAPHS, 6) MAPS, 7) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, and 8) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series includes letters from other Baja California historians, geographers, and anthropologists, as well as editors, booksellers, and family members. Notable correspondents include Carl Sauer, A.L. Kroeber, Homer Aschmann, and Peter Gerhard. The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.
    The WRITINGS BY MEIGS series, arranged alphabetically, contains drafts summarizing field notes, typescripts, notes on bibliographic sources, and reprints of Meigs's work related to Baja California, including research notes for his published works on the Kiliwa Indians and several reprints of articles published in PACIFIC COAST ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY. Of interest is Meigs's translation of Padre Luis de Sales's "Noticias de la Provincia de Californias en Tres Cartas," an important account on Dominican activity in Baja California.
    The WRITINGS BY OTHERS series contains Baja California-related publications by other authors that have been heavily annotated by Meigs. This series is arranged in alphabetical order.
    The JOURNALS include Meigs's field notes from his 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, and 1929 Baja California trips. Notably absent from the series are his notes from 1936. While the journals mostly contain daily accounts of his field work, including land measurements, sketch maps, photograph captions, and interviews with subjects, the 1925 journal begins six months before he enters the field, offering a glimpse of Meigs's life as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. The final entry in the series is a copy of Dr. Oscar Schmieder's study of the Russian colony at Guadalupe Valley, heavily annotated by Meigs while he studied the Kiliwa Indians in 1929. The journals were numbered by Meigs and are arranged chronologically.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series includes two subseries: A) Photograph Albums and B) Lantern Slides.
    A) In the first subseries, over 300 photographs taken by Meigs are arranged into photograph albums. The 1925 album was created by Meigs and includes his original materials and captions. Negatives do not exist for this album. The subsequent albums were created during processing, following Meigs's example and using his numbering system to match photographs, negatives and captions. The albums contain a mixture of prints produced by Meigs and contemporary contact prints made from Meigs's negatives. An envelope of duplicate prints has been included on the last page of each album. Captions have been extracted from Meigs's journals and supplemented with additional notations found on his negative envelopes. Several holes remain in the photograph series where negative envelopes were empty or missing. In most cases, the numbers and captions of absent photographs have been noted and designated as "Missing" within each album. Some photographs remain unidentified and have been housed in folders separate from the albums. Approximate dates have been attributed to each set of unidentifed photographs. The photograph albums and corresponding "Unidentified" folders are arranged in chronological order.
    B) The second subseries contains 63 lantern slides used in a presentation by Meigs. The slides include photographs from several of Meigs's Baja trips, as well as hand-drawn maps.
    The MAPS series includes maps created by Meigs, either as copies of existing maps or as field sketches, as well as a "Baja California Sketch Map" containing C.W. Thornthwaite's signature on each leaf. The maps created by Meigs have been identified using the title he attributed to them. Untitled maps have been identified by geographic region or landmarks. The Thornthwaite map appears to be an enlarged and segmented copy of Carl H. Beal's "Reconnaissance geologic map and structure sections of Baja California, Mexico." The twelve leaves of the map are accompanied by reduced-sized photocopies exhibiting numerous annotations by Meigs. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.
    The MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS series contains newspaper clippings, pressed plants, and a postcard from Ensenada. The material is arranged in alphabetical order.
    Books, journals, and maps received in accessions of the Peveril Meigs Papers have been separated from the collection and added elsewhere to the library's holdings. To identify and list these items, conduct an author search in ROGER on the term "Meigs, Peveril 1903 1979 Former Owner."